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Retired after 45 years. I have treated thousands of animals and raised animals including endangered species.Started bees 3 years ago and have had some success and some bad problems but thought this year was my year to shine. 4 hives, 3 strong and saskatraz bees.We had a tremendous amount of rain this spring and I live out in the corn ans soybeans fields of central Illinois. Have 1/4 acre of tall grass prairie. Rain delayed planting of crops. In the past I had a neighbor that planted huge sunflower field for planting.Huge plants. This year plants about up to my knees and small flower heads.Prairie plants are not blooming yet and bees dont seems to be attracted to them. About 1/2 mile is a huge garden of about every food plant you can grow around here. Problem is since the begining of spring I have been feeding sugar syrup to bees non stop. I dont think they are bringing in hardly any nectar and I am very concerned. Sunflower field which I think is a big source is nothing. Garden looks good but wildflowers just arent blooming. I love bees and I dont plan on any honey this year. I just want to save the hive . Bees have a great population,larvae,eggs,capped brood, but low on honey. I am just concerned on whats going to happen. Dont know of any bee vets except you people. i love bees but sunflowers gone,wildflowers not blooming,not feeding good on what little clover i have. Getting ready to plant two acres of clover in fall. I have been in critical situations with animals but my education and experience pulled me out of this. No bee vets. rainy spring has made this a no nectar zone or my bees are just taking down the syrup and not going after nectar that is out there. Lot of bees but not a lot flying out in my opinion. If I dont feed sugar how is anything going to be fed. Feeding sugar every day or two. In past when they found nectar they wold stop syrup.I have dealt with other problems much more serious with bees and solved the problem but this little problem has me in a bind because I dont see a lot of nectar sources out there.Please what can I do.Had nectar last two years.HELP I LOVE BEES. RETIRE AND RELAX RAISING BEES
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Don't feed; just don't.
Force them fly and find food, it is out there - you just don't know.
They will not die as it should be enough forage to at least self-sustain (if not to store any away).

Those wild prairie plants are mostly useless no matter what they say (except for the goldenrod and asters - should start mid-August and on).
I got plenty of wild prairie here - bees don't care for it but for the clovers/thistles and goldenrod/asters.

End of August/September evaluate and feed them specifically for the winter setup.

Long-term:
- spread plenty of yellow/white sweet clovers everywhere you can - for June/July flow
- spread goldenrod/native asters everywhere you can - for August/September flow

Canada thistle (any thistle, really) is great too (don't care what people will say - yes, I know these are noxious weeds for most people).
I don't care of the thistles in my potato patch, to be sure - but thistles are great on any scrap land as good insect forage.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Greg, why are you saying not to feed the bees? Just curious...
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Dogmechanic, I live in an area that has a true dearth. So unlike GregV, for me, not feeding would result in failing or dead hives, especially the ones I harvested honey from. To feed or not to feed, one must first evaluate the stores in the hive. I have feeders on some hives, but not on others that have more reserves. I expect that I will end up with feeders on most of the hives by August. I do not keep syrup on them continuously though, they get a gallon or so just twice per week. Pretty sure most of the gallon is gone in 24 hours, but I want them to go out and forage too. I also have pollen sub (UltraBee) out for the girls (open feed) as there is little to no pollen to be had either. It is well known that bees will not forage pollen sub if the real thing is available.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

My second year, my mentor told me to feed my bees or they were going to die. This was in July, typically a great time of year for foraging where I live. It was very rainy but I didn't really didn't notice there was a problem until he pointed it out. He saved my hives because I had no plans to start feeding.
If you can easily pick up the back of the hive, you MUST feed.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

If you have a truck, it is usually cheaper to move bees than to feed them, depending on the number of colonies you run. It's your personal math problem involving miles to nearest nectar flow, miles per gallon on your truck, price of fuel, versus price of feed.

Mid July and many of us are taking honey off the hives, then on go the robbing screens and they are in preparation for Winter. Fall is when a lot of us spend big bucks on high quality food. The goal is for a 2-brood box colony to weigh 130 lbs going into wrap-up time. Feed them if you have to, but do your math first.

Personal;ly, I use Honey-B-Healthy in the liquid sugar feed or BeeSweet, and MegaBee pollen substitute patties. Closest thing I can find to a guarantee that I'll have bees in the Spring.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Greg, why are you saying not to feed the bees? Just curious...
1) Because this is Illinois, just south of me and we are very similar in general.
There is a flow through most of July, largely dependent on Sweet clovers, Canada thistle and such (which are found pretty much in every ditch and country road side).
Depending on the weather, 2-3 week dearth in August is possible.
Then flow again. For sure there is some supporting flow as long as summer is not super hot/dry (not lately; it is the opposite lately - floods).
This is a general picture and it is different from Appalachian region (VA, GA, etc).

2) Feeding them only prompts them to maintain an un-sustainably high population through and through.
Good bees will shut down into a survival mode, but they need to get the message (very little income).

3) Yes - if you are in corn/soy green desert - pretty much forget the crop - it is more about survival.
But - they should be able to find enough income from road sides and such to just stay afloat (while properly maintaining the population, IF they any good).

4) I personally own some "lazy" bees.
While other units have been capping real honey and building combs like crazy (we have strong flow as we speak), the "lazy" unit is doing.... unsure what they heck they are doing.
Not much except sitting about.
So, yes, some bees will sit about and keep sucking on your sugar syrup and make more babies.
Especially, if you let them.
I personally don't want these bees.

I know that part of IL pretty well - corn desert to the horizon - we used to go there in winter to shoot some rockets up.
But there are plenty of ditches and road sides with some sweet clovers and thistle to get by if must.

Anyway, I am unconvinced the things are so dire that bees will actually starve to death in mid-IL right now.
Personally, I would scout every road within 3-4 mile radius and see what's up and go from there.

PS: I told about the "lazy" bees in my own thread over the winter;
the only reason I have them - they did not die, unlike most others - good, I guess;
otherwise, all they did through the last warm season - kept making babies and saved no honey for winter (some almond pollination breed, I hear they bred some of these on purpose);
so, indeed, some bees will convert all the stores available into population and will never have anything saved up (flow or no flow);
feed them I guess, what else is there to do?
:)
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

GregV, I disagree on one point. Soybeans can be great. They bloom a long time and bees love them. Research even shows improved production of soybeans if bees are nearby. This year is way behind though. Soybeans should be blooming now, but in fact are still only a few inches tall. Nice weather now anyway.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Dogmech - as a vet, you'll be familiar of course with the concept of a Basal Metabolic Rate - and for all intents and purposes, a honeybee colony can be considered to have the same. So - if you were to feed a relatively small amount of sugar syrup each evening (so that the foragers don't go barreling out of the hive on the mistaken assumption that a flow has suddenly started), that should enable them to 'tread water' pro tempore, without encouraging brood rearing. Also, suggest no form of pollen in the feed for the same reason.
LJ
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

There use to be another veterinarian on here who kept bees. He knew a lot and I learned a lot from reading his Posts. Have not seen any for quite a while.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

GregV, I disagree on one point. Soybeans can be great. They bloom a long time and bees love them. Research even shows improved production of soybeans if bees are nearby. This year is way behind though. Soybeans should be blooming now, but in fact are still only a few inches tall. Nice weather now anyway.
Well, then we actually agree!
There should be forage to be had in the Upper/Mid Midwest, like I said (unless indeed proven otherwise).
:)

It is simply at my location I do not depend on corn for pollen and soy for nectar.
There are better choices here.
After dropping off the kids at the summer school classes, I on purpose drove via a different route (more farm-like).
Yes, lots of corn and the road sides were pretty useless were I drove.
But I know just a mile to the North there are very good thistle pastures (I know because I live there).
So yes, I could scream of no forage based on my drive this AM (but I won't - there is forage).
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

GregV: ”PS: I told about the "lazy" bees in my own thread over the winter;
the only reason I have them - they did not die, unlike most others - good, I guess;
otherwise, all they did through the last warm season - kept making babies and saved no honey for winter (some almond pollination breed, I hear they bred some of these on purpose);
so, indeed, some bees will convert all the stores available into population and will never have anything saved up (flow or no flow);”

My “lazy” bees ended up having nosema cerana; I did nothing for them hoping they would die on their own and they have survived 2 years now, even through winter. Deb
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK some things I have. I have a lot of bees,larva,eggs and capped brood. I feed my bees in a empty super on top. There are always a load of bees up there just clinging to jar or anywhere but load of bees there. I have a load of bees. Not a lot of stored honey which worries me. Wildflowers not blooming, sunflowers about knee high with small blooms, farmers mowing ditches and most canada thistle gone to seed. This should be my flow and am feeding. I think I will follow Greg and stop feeding. I see a lot of bees foraging but not many honey bees. In vet medicine they would go over problems like this in our heads over and over how to find out what is wrong and what to do. I appreciate every
answer and hope for many more. I love bees but not dead bees. I REALLY APPRECIATE THIS.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

........

My “lazy” bees ended up having nosema cerana; I did nothing for them hoping they would die on their own and they have survived 2 years now, even through winter. Deb
My "lazy" bees look quite healthy (save for a couple of DWV bees I noticed in May yet - technically they should collapse this summer).
Among the few who made through the brutal winter (thanks to a pile of dry sugar).
By many indications they should just die off; and yet they stay afloat.
So I still keep them around as a curios sample and to clean up old frames.

The fuss is - they end up converting all the foraging they do into population.
Now that is "lazy"!
If you judge by them, there is never a flow to put away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK some things I have. I have a lot of bees,larva,eggs and capped brood. I feed my bees in a empty super on top. There are always a load of bees up there just clinging to jar or anywhere but load of bees there. I have a load of bees. Not a lot of stored honey which worries me. Wildflowers not blooming, sunflowers about knee high with small blooms, farmers mowing ditches and most canada thistle gone to seed. This should be my flow and am feeding. I think I will follow Greg and stop feeding. I see a lot of bees foraging but not many honey bees. In vet medicine they would go over problems like this in our heads over and over how to find out what is wrong and what to do. I appreciate every
answer and hope for many more. I love bees but not dead bees. I REALLY APPRECIATE THIS.
 

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....... I have a load of bees. Not a lot of stored honey.......
A lot of bees eat a lot of honey.
Then they make even more bees because it is summer and there is non-stop "flow".
They may even swarm on you if this continues.

Somewhere in May you should have stopped feeding cold.
That was a mistake to keep feeding syrup non-stop.

I kept dry sugar on well into the May (due to the weather) and they used up well (really was helpful).
But keep in mind - dry sugar does not imitate a flow.
They switch away from dry sugar immediately as soon as they can (dry sugar is a last-ditch survival means and only used if must).
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

My "lazy" bees look quite healthy (save for a couple of DWV bees I noticed in May yet - technically they should collapse this summer).
Among the few who made through the brutal winter (thanks to a pile of dry sugar).
By many indications they should just die off; and yet they stay afloat.
So I still keep them around as a curios sample and to clean up old frames.

The fuss is - they end up converting all the foraging they do into population.
Now that is "lazy"!
If you judge by them, there is never a flow to put away.
These bees look healthy also, I could not tell they were physically light in weight. What alerted me to have them tested was the aimless milling around at the entrance.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

GREG V I hope you are still there. Took all food away and things seem to be ok except for one thing. Bees are going out and coming in from foraging trips so I think they really didnt need all that sugar syrup. 7 days ago had plenty bees,capped brood,larvae,and eggs. Was feeding sugar from a large plastic jar in a empty deep on top. Took feeders out about 5 days ago but left empty deep on top. Bees just coated the inner walls of the deep. Didnt take empty deeps off until yesterday and a lot of bees were scattering. After things settled down I checked one hive and all those bees were crammed in between the top cover and the telescoping roof in that real small space. Not knowing what to do about that I added a super. 3 supers with frames. One super just had 4 frames. On that one you could see bees on side of super. It seems like they have been on these walls and never moved but they had to. They dont seem to be doing anything. I am not even going to bother them today and tomorrow to see if they can get things straightened out. I am concerned of a swarm but 2 hives are first year hives and other has a new queen about 2 months ago. I plan to leave them alone and then go through hive in four days. Oh do I regret feeding. I also am going to try the mighty mite for varroa, Plan to do this in August when temps are high. All bees need to be in two deeps. Guess I can just fume the super and bees will go down. I have talked to the owner of the company a lot.Do not want to use chemicals. Got wiped out with a varroa bomb and severe robbing end of fall dearth last year. Well I guess I will take a look on Saturday. I hope the dont swarm. I dont know what else to do. Could I take a frame of capped brood or larvae and in put in a weak hive. What is strange is those bees up in the feeding deep dont even act as they are part of the hive and go down into lower deep. They stay up as high as they can. Any solutions or much needed advise.
 

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Re: Retired veterinarian bees have no nectar sourcears

Well, you certainly ran up lots of population by all that feeding. Hahaha!
Chances are pretty darn high for now - your bees will be alive and well without all your sugar syrup.

I would take the hive apart as soon as possible and evaluate the situation for the QCs (queen cells).
If QCs any found that look big and long (especially IF capped QCs) - I would just break the darn hive into 2-3 new units now - this is still an OK time to split your bees.
Ideally, I personally would do an immediate a fly-back splits with all that workforce in place to take advantage of it.
But I will not be explaining here what "fly-back" split is - you will need to search - there are plenty of examples.

In short, your priorities are to
1)prevent losing a potential swarm (feels as if one is building up) and
2)try to make some new hive(s) since you already ran up lots of bees - use them to your advantage.

You could even try for some crop yet (doing the fly-back/cut-back variations and based on the pasture scouting results) - but let's keep it simple.

PS: as far as mite treatments - I don't chemically treat and will not give advice in that department;
I am simply running the #'s game by ongoing expansion/fetching few swarms, and trying to breed local/feral bees.
 
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