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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new and just have one hive which was a package I installed back in April. I fed it for a week after install and it went well. Haven't fed any since then. Today I decided to put a jar of sugar water feed out about 30 feet from the front of the hive as an experiment to see if a dearth was happening here assuming if one was on they would take the feed. Well to my surprise they took the feed but then an hour or two later I went out and there were bees everywhere flying in circles and seemingly very agitated. They would come at my face as soon as I left out the back door. They seemed to come at me and even chase me. It was so bad I had to put my bee suit on to go out and remove the feed jars. It took about an hour for them to calm down after this. Can anyone explain this behavior? I thought maybe they were acting like I was a robber or something. Obviously I figured out we must be in a dearth here now.
 

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Congrats sounds like you just started your first robbing frenzy, good news is if you ever have a queen go on a mating flight it sounds like there are other hives close by
 

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During a dearth open feeding can draw bees from many miles around and it sounds like that is what you experiences. The bees can be quite agitated during this feeding frenzy, also what you appear to have experienced. I prefer top feeders or if using jar feeders to place them within the hive; like inside an empty box so that they are isolated from any bees outside the hive. I find that works much better especially during a dearth.
 

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Scout bees give a general location, other bees come in and start trying to rob any bee related thing that smells of honey, but most of the bees just have a general sense of the area where the 'food' is located so they get pretty riled up and if there's other hives nearby it can create quite a comotion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies I thought it must be robbing I did see some fighting near the feeder now that I think back. The bees that were all flying around away from the feeder and harassing me would those be the bees from my own hive in panic mode from the invaders maybe? Maybe they were pissed at me for drawing the neighbors in so stupidly. Anyway lesson learned.
 

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My suggestion is, simply ... don't "feed."

Don't try to "help them," earnest though your intentions of benevolence might be. Supplies of nectar will naturally ebb and flow throughout the season, and that's why they store honey. If there's a dearth going on (and there will be, from time to time), they'll uncap and eat some of their own honey until the next wave of flowers comes in. At the end of the season, there will be a surplus, some of which you can safely take.

If you "feed them," not only can you trigger robbing, but that sugar-water that you "benevolently" supplied them with is going to wind up in your mouth. They will store it, and they will cap it, but it won't be honey. It can spoil. I suspect that it invites diseases.

One thing that I can positively say for my honey is that it never "sugars up." The bees do something to that sweet stuff such that the sugar never precipitates out of it. Whereas, if what you've got is actually sugar-water, the crystals precipitate out of solution very easily. Which is what we actually see in so much tasteless, bland, commercial "honey."

Letting the bees proceed at their own pace with their own food supplies will mean that you don't get "gallons of honey." However, just taste​ it . . .
 

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As an FYI - I never feed. My first year I fed maybe 4 quarts of sugar water and that is it, 3 or 4 years ago this was. I currently have a 5 gallon bucket about 3/4 full of honey that is totally crystalized. Extracted July 4th, 2013. (last year..) I also have 4 or so gallon plastic containers crystalized from the same extraction. Every year I get honey that crystalizes, though I do not feed. On the flip side of this before I got hives that produced, I bought quite a bit of honey from Costco/Sams Club. That never sugared up....
 

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I currently have a 5 gallon bucket about 3/4 full of honey that is totally crystalized. I also have 4 or so gallon plastic containers crystalized from the same extraction.
@Dan....I understand you dont feed....I agree unless it's an extreme starvation situation.
but couldnt you give this honey back to the bees to be used instead of sitting around going to waste??? Just courious and wondering.
 

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If the bees needed more food, I would give back to them gladly. They dont need it.. Its not going to waste. Its going in my belly.. Slowly but surely. I reconstitute it and set the jar at work for snacks during the day. I also have been consuming it since extraction.

I had so much honey last year I didnt take off a fall flow. This year not so much, yet. Im going to sell a bit of this years harvest, especially since I have a good amount leftover from lastyear to keep me going.

My point for this post was 1) "Real" honey does crystalize and 2) You can get good amounts of honey without feeding. Its not always needed but I will concede does have its place. The OP did a good job sounds like and learned about open feeding. I learned from this as well, thanks to those whom posted on this thread.
 

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How much and how soon honey crystallizes is dependent upon the amount of pollen or other "nucleation" particles are in it and the amount of glucose present. Glucose is less soluble than fructose, and will precipitate out fairly readily. Some nectars contain quite a bit (Brassica species in particular) and that can cause lots of sugar crystals in honey. Buckwheat, I think, will do the same thing, and so will fall honey from most of the asters like goldenrod.

Honey with more fructose will not "sugar up" so much.

Commercial honey these days is often heated and superfiltered, removing the pollen, and I suspect also quite often adulterated with high fructose corn syrup. Imported honey is particularly bad about the corn syrup, I would suspect. The heating dissolves the micro-crystals of glucose usually present in the honey, and removing the pollen gives a clearer product with far fewer "nucleation" sites for crystallization to start from, so is much less likely to "sugar up". Tastes different though.

Of course high fructose corn syrup never "sugars up".

Peter
 

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This year ive been making bees to replace last years losses. The issue with me is that there is no nectar, capped honey, or uncapped liquid. I need them to also draw comb. It hasn't rained in over 2 weeks and moisture in the ground is minimal. Flowers need moisture to make nectar, and while I understand the robbing issue. I have restricted openings on all my hives. If they have no food, ill have dead bees. While the cold last year got some of my hives, I feel the majority were lost due to starvation( I did have parties on top). Bees do best with honey in their belly over capped sugar water. I will feed until it either rains or I have 4 frames of capped "honey" in my hives. I also realize that I could have capped sugar water that could get into my honey. Ill avoid that by not having supers on or feed any that is capped in a super while I'm feeding. I have 4 nucs that have a frames out of a super above the inner cover. They are eating and moving it down as needed
 

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There are times when I feel that I have to feed, and in those instances, I do feed. But I don't feed unless I deem it necessary. In brief, I hate to feed and hope that I never feed again. In my opinion, most beekeepers are way to quick to feed. When I feed, I use a boardman feeder on top of the inner cover with a empty medium super on top of it.
 
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