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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any issues with putting out a pan of sugar syrup when you have a day or string of days warm enough for bees to fly in the winter? Is there no benefit to doing so? Does it create issues within the hive? Would it be better to just place out a some dry sugar where they could find it?

I figure I could provide a supplemental energy source to help them through the winter, but maybe my logic is not sound.
Thanks
 

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Any issues with putting out a pan of sugar syrup when you have a day or string of days warm enough for bees to fly in the winter? Is there no benefit to doing so? Does it create issues within the hive? Would it be better to just place out a some dry sugar where they could find it?

I figure I could provide a supplemental energy source to help them through the winter, but maybe my logic is not sound.
Thanks
What problem are trying to solve?

If it ain't broken - don't fix it.

If you have specific problems, then solve them specifically and in most effective manner.
If you are bored - feeding the bees now and in the fashion you propose is not the solution to your boredom.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think you will confuse the bees as to how to respond to the weather and the season. They think something is blooming when it is not. They may start rearing brood when they shouldn't.
That makes sense.

I just thought if I could help any hives that were light on stores going into winter by providing them a food source if they were naturally out foraging that it would help them out.
 

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That makes sense.

I just thought if I could help any hives that were light on stores going into winter by providing them a food source if they were naturally out foraging that it would help them out.
This time a year bees are not naturally foraging (maybe getting water if it is really warm; that is - maybe).

There is nothing natural out there to forage for (not in Jefferson Co., KS; I lived many years in Shawnee, Douglas counties).
 

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I have had times when I had a lot of bees flying around in the winter and noticed that quite a few of them didn't make it back to the hive. Thinking I was doing a good deed I rescued a number that had become immobilized on the snow and restored them to some semblance of health and brought them inside and gave them food and a place to crawl around in. After a few days they all up and died. I suspect that the reason they were coming out of the hive is that they were ill and we're taking the warm weather as an opportunity to leave. On the other hand maybe I just killed them. It's hard to say. Someone who knows more about keeping bees alive indoors in the winter than me would have to weigh in on that. At this time of year, the easiest way of making sure that your bees don't starve is giant sugar cubes. You can make these by mixing a cup of water with 12 cups of sugar packing it down into some sort of pan and waiting until it dries. The sugar will stick together and you will have the biggest honkin sugar cube you've ever seen in your life. Put that on top of the top bars on the top of your hive. Of course you need to make space for it and insulate that space and all that good stuff which I'm sure you can figure out, and then you just have to hold your breath and wait until spring.
 

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Look up Lauri"s sugar bricks if you are concerned that they don't have enough food for the winter. Follow the recipe. Its very simple to do. J
 

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:)

It is winter out there, folks, and the bees supposed to be "asleep" OR dead - in most Zone 5 places and colder.
No need to save the dead or about dead.
Those bees trying to "forage" now are unfit idiots or about dead.

This is December and there should be enough stores for the next 2-3 months, at least.

IF no stores NOW, then I am not sure what have you (and your bees ) been doing the preceding 2-3 months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am a new to the bee game in general. I just made the assumption that bees that were out flying around on warm days were possibly looking for food. Figured if they were I would give them something to feed on. However, I can see how creating a food source might trigger the bees into thinking that spring was coming and create big issues within the hive. I will just let the bees remain as is and check on them in a few weeks to see how things are fairing in the hive.

Is it ok to open up a hive and pull out frames on a warm winter day, say 60 degrees? Or is there a less intrusive way of monitoring how much they have left for stores?
 

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I am a new to the bee game in general......

Is it ok to open up a hive and pull out frames on a warm winter day, say 60 degrees? Or is there a less intrusive way of monitoring how much they have left for stores?
You will learn.

Sure - open them up and don't worry too much (IF must).

But, you ought to be able to just quickly look from aside to have all your answers (no need to pull the frames in the winter; extra stress for the bees too).

The main questions until the spring (March or so) are:
- are they alive (if not - clean the hive out to prevent the mold)?
- do they have enough reachable food, if still alive (if no reachable food - provide)?

For these you do not need to pull the frames.
 

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>Or is there a less intrusive way of monitoring how much they have left for stores?

Bees don't weigh much. Honey does. Heft the hive. A gallon of bees weighs about 3 pounds. A gallon of honey weighs 12 pounds.
 

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I am a new to the bee game in general. I just made the assumption that bees that were out flying around on warm days were possibly looking for food. Figured if they were I would give them something to feed on. However, I can see how creating a food source might trigger the bees into thinking that spring was coming and create big issues within the hive. I will just let the bees remain as is and check on them in a few weeks to see how things are fairing in the hive.

Is it ok to open up a hive and pull out frames on a warm winter day, say 60 degrees? Or is there a less intrusive way of monitoring how much they have left for stores?
Start doing a "lift" test. Grab the back of the hive and lift it up. Either guess the weight and note that value or just do a wow this one is heavy and O Boy this one is light.
Then note the ones that starve out and your recollection of how the lift went. note and logs are helpful. In time you will know from a lift if they make it to spring with out help. Granted it will take time but in 3 or 4 years you will just know if they have enough. One could devise a scale to be accurate, However I am a slide rule type and just use the grab and lift. Lift an empty hive in the shop to gauge how much the wood and comb weigh. some clues,, if you can barely lift it you are likely fine. if you could grab the whole hive and walk away easily you are likely not making it to spring. For me in Michigan I try for 90-100 pounds of bees and honey in either 2 deeps and a medium or 1 deep and 3 mediums . I know I am about 1 medium over on space, but the extra space keeps the bees up higher and away from frost, and draft.
Really you need to get a "Feel" for it, this is what worked for me, started with bees in 1978. took me till 1990 or so to "master" the lift test, then it has been a good indicator of necessary stores. welcome to the Forum. Lots of Ideas here and many ways do accomplish the same thing, pick what works and let the rest go until you are ready to try new things. If you like toys and cost is not an issue the Flir camera is a nice winter tool to determine where the cluster is in the hive, if it is up to the lid in dec, jan, then feeding is likely in your future. the dry sugar suggested is a good stop gap. If you simulate a flow during a warm spell the bees may start brood rearing and that would be bad during the winter, I would not advise open feeding during warm spells in winter. Only open the hive when there is ample time for the cluster to reform , prior to dark/cool temps. IF you open the hive and play, and you smash the queen in mid winter this would also be bad. Realize every winter hive inspection has some risk, you judge if the risk is worth the need/reward, and is recovery an option. Mid summer they can make a queen or you can buy one, if you accidentally smash her, mid winter not so much. Check the entrance area for mouse droppings and/or partial bees. For me Mice are a winter danger and I cover entrances with .5 inch Wire mesh. read up , act when necessary, have a plan before you crack the lid. Good luck
GG
 

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We live in North Carolina piedmont area. Our daytime temperature during winter day is around 50 degrees and nighttime temps are in 30's. This is not all the time but it about 60% of winter. We do have several weeks of 30 degree weather only in spells. Attached is feeding of syurp and pollen substitute until somewhere around the blooming of maple trees in late January or early Feburary. These cold spells kill of any hive beetles in hives that you do not see. This because bees have tightened hive ball to keep warm pushing hive beetles outside of hive ball.
 

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Best advice is from Gray Goose: Have a plan before you crack the lid in winter. You can add a sugar block or winter patty in 30 seconds if you have a plan.
 

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Best advice is from Gray Goose: Have a plan before you crack the lid in winter. You can add a sugar block or winter patty in 30 seconds if you have a plan.
You are right about Gray Goose advice.
Your weather in US is different where the cluster of bees do not break cluster months on end. Here our weather is different and cluster of bees do break cluster on regular basis. I do check weight of my hives to make sure they have plenty of stores to last a winter even if they do not break cluster. We do have plants that bloom in winter and they produce a red pollen. There are other winter plant species in our climate that bloom but not to a flow.
 

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Welcome to the wonderful world of beekeeping!
A word of caution on hefting only: here in upstate NY I aim for 5/8 of the combs to be full of honey (yes we overwinter many nucs on 8 deep frames, so a target weight is misleading). Some colonies chimney up very quickly, leaving their stores behind. I don't know why. Right now some of the colonies are right under the lid and the hive is still heavy. Usually they have enough honey up there still to get them through the January brood up. I make sure to put some dry sugar insurance on in February so they don't cold starve. If I only hefted and did not know where in hive they are I would miss some.... I have had colonies "starve/freeze" in no time when we get an unexpected cold snap in April and they have brooded up more than they can keep warm. A similar thing happens if they don't have enough honey above them when it's cold. Hence the insurance. I have other colonies that stay low and out of sight until spring. They have a good amount of honey above them all winter and I have to open it up when I put supers on in spring.
To assess stores and location I go out on a nice calm, sunny, 25F day and pop covers. If they are up top I check for stores around the edges. Experience will tell you how long a certain volume of honey will last at which point in the winter. When in doubt, feed them dry sugar or brick. You should be able to rest easy until March. If you are not, add enough sugar to last until spring. Then don't worry about it until spring. Good luck!
 
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