Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,274 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was having a conversation with a fellow beekeeper on the use of sugar blocks in winter. He always puts the blocks on at the beginning of winter as an insurance policy. I much prefer to wait until it is needed. Both of us keep the hives at home so access in winter and spring is not an issue. My theory is that the use of the blocks causes the bees to eat them first. Blocks are not seen as stored food so it gets eaten first. Come spring, I want a fair amount of the cells in the hive empty so there is plenty of room for the queen to lay. In my area we often have a killer maple flow and the bees can easily fill a full deep with nectar in a few days if the weather is good. Making space for it is essential. My opinion is that without enough space, and a hive full of nectar, swarming is a major issue. I have seen that over and over. For some reason, I can never get bees to use supers for maple, even with drawn comb and checker boarding. He is of the opinion that the more honey in the brood boxes going into the flow, the more they will need to use the supers for storage which gives a better honey harvest.

I would appreciate any opinions on the subject. FYI, I am not trying to win the argument with him. We have very different goals in beekeeping which may be the reason for our different styles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,987 Posts
Bees will liquify sugar bricks and store them but I have not seen or looked for evidence of them using the sugar before stored honey. If this maple flow is at a known date, it would seem that you could manage your hive space to get the nectar stored in supers. Always fascinating how different beekeeping is in different areas.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,296 Posts
My outyards are not plowed out. I hiked in once through 4 feet of snow with 200 pounds of sugar bricks. never again. I put them on when i put my quilt boxes on. I bring extra in freezer bags and store them in the corner of the quilt box should i need them. It would be interesting to make colored sugar blocks and see if that color shows up in any of the cells.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,244 Posts
I usually have a sugar block on hives throughout the winter. They typically are not touched until late winter. It is not unusual for the sugar blocks to not be touched at all. I suspect the sugar blocks do not increase my survival rate at all. But, they are something I can do.

Tom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,874 Posts
I add a sugar block to each of my topbar hives around December (if I add it in Nov, they have eaten it by December so I have to add another one). We have mild winters here in Virginia and the bees are constantly busy and not in a winter cluster (I have windows in all my hives to observe them daily). The bees tend to work the sugar block first and leave the honey stores until late January. So far, I've not ever had an issue with them swarming early due to the combs being full of stored honey. I can usually tell when the maples have started to bloom because the windows show condensation from the nectar being brought in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,274 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Bees will liquify sugar bricks and store them but I have not seen or looked for evidence of them using the sugar before stored honey. If this maple flow is at a known date, it would seem that you could manage your hive space to get the nectar stored in supers. Always fascinating how different beekeeping is in different areas.
I could not be sure they are eating it directly or if they are storing it but when the hive weight is dropping slowly and the blocks are disappearing, I assume that is what is happening. They may be storing it and eating something else but at least the sugar is getting used. I have had hives survive on mostly sugar blocks in emergencies but not recently. As far as managing hive space, for the maple flow, I have heard other beeks in the area see the same problem I have. I finally did find a very workable solution even if it was not perfect. I put the supers at the bottom of the stack and let the brood nest work its way downwards. The overwintered deeps became the honey supers and the mediums underneath became the brood boxes. Of course, it only works with drawn comb, not foundation.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top