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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First year KTBH beekeeper here. I feel so guilty with the heat so high and my girls with what appears to be little or no flowering vegetation. Should I feed them sugar syrup through this drought?
 

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And I wouldn't. My TBH is actually doing pretty well despite the dry... (severe here, my shrubs have died this year...) but I just quit feeding all hives. No point in building up for a nectar flow that cannot happen. If you artificialy build them up, they will not be able to manage saveing enough very well.
Might PM Michael Bush... he is a wizard at TBH and dang good at manageing bees also, I would sure listen to him on this question!
 

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I would hold off feeding for a while. They might be able to bring in something you're not aware of.
Keep an eye on them. They should slow their brood rearing in response to the dearth.
We went through this last summer here in Texas. Everything dried up, even the crepe myrtles
dropped their leaves, but the trumpet vines around the area kept producing a little bit.
 

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This is my first year - so this really isn't advice but this is what I came up with when I struggled with the same question. I have not started feeding mine again yet. I went through the hive about a week ago to see what stores they had and it seemed like they were not going to starve. I plan to do a "heft test" when I check them again and if they seem light I might do something different.

They were bringing in pollen this morning but I can't imagine there is a lot of nectar available. My mentor said that there is usually always something available...

Steve
 

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Not a tbh person but I guess we share the same issues. Gmc - hadn't thought of the fact that feeding was equated to building. I was thinking more of just surviving. But the hives do have honey (unlike ME :) ) so I've been wondering where that leaves me. The heft comment - I just need to be watching for how much stores they use up. So.... I know queens go dormant for a while...Been there, done that. How long? Till next flow? Till winter? What will I be watching for other than honey, since I can't expect to see eggs or larvae.
 

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I've been trying to figure out if I should feed or not myself. I installed a package mid-May and they have only drawn 4 full and one partial bar of brood comb and most of a bar that they are storing nectar and pollen in. The brood bars have a band of pollen and nectar at the top. They seem to be doing well, just not expanding. I made up some syrup (bee tea with camomile) and put it out in an open feeder on the other side of my backyard from the hive a couple days ago. They seemed to leave it alone for a few days then tonight when I got home I found they had taken all of it and were working on the crystallized sugar that was left. At least one bee wasn't from my hive though, because it was small and black (feral?) and mine are Italians. Should I keep filling the open feeder or should I put it in the hive now that I know they want it?
 

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colleen....I would stick it in the hive, make it easy on them! I'm still feeding my weak hive and they are finally taking hold albeit slooowly after going queenless My strong hive is to a point I'm going to take a bar or two out this week for more room, stopped feeding it over a month ago now and they continually are expanding. Gonna finally work on a hive and new feeders this week also....finally get a couple days off shew! My weak hive has been slooow to draw them out also, I have only a couple full bars and a bunch of partials......
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the responses! What goes thru my mind is that I don't treat with chemicals as I want to develop good genetics, so why wouldn't I do the same when there is a dearth? You all are great. Thanks.
 

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Colleen - I'm reading on here that in a dearth it's better not to add any additives to your syrup that could make it easier for robbers to smell. Dearth brings out the robbers.

Jack - I am a no treat philosopher too. And it does follow thru to my feeding practices. That said, fwiw - in my 2nd year I learned a very valuable, very hurtful lesson. I was told to stop feeding and let them fend for themselves. This was a huge, HUGE, bustling hive from a partial swarm I had caught. Dearth set in and i can't remember exactly how quickly, but just a couple of weeks later they were all dead. There was a chemical spray on the streets and I was hopping mad, certain that they had killed my hive. I spent hours on the phone with the disease place in MD (?) and our state apiculturist. Final answer was I starved them. It happened so fast. I was absolutely crushed. I say all that to warn you that you may have a philosopical crossroads ahead. Don't know ur zone but I'm sure TN has some parts that get very droughty. May come a point that you should feed - if you want to keep them alive. Just something to be planning for. I'm just trying to delay it as long as possible while keeping their best interest in mind.

Bees are livestock. Cows are livestock. I wouldn't withhold feed from my cows if I were raising organic meat.
 

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Feed? I would say not: bees can feed themselves, and generally should... But water? Yes.

We got several metal chicken-waterers at a farm supply store, and filled the trough with large river-stones. The bees (which can't swim...) stand on the stones and sip from the shallow water which never runs dry. They're set a short distance away, perfectly leveled, in deep shade.
 

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there is a difference between a bee keeper and a beHAVER. people who have bees like to preach and say things like" In the wild_____" nothing against them, but thats not your question. Beekeepers are manageing the hive for production of something. (it varies from queens to packages to pollination to honey)
TO feed or not is going to depend on how bad your weather is. Hives with a good food source will continue to build, and thus use stores when you don't feed enough or nature is not provideing. The queen will not stop entirely, she will just slow down. instead of 8 frames of good brood, you may only have 3-4.....
My issue right now is super severe. 50 miles north or south may make a huge difference. I am ACTUALLY useing dead leaves in my smoker. Maples are dead, my river privets and blueberries are all gone. Our blackberries vanished.... we have not had rain within 2 miles of town in well over 6 weeks. that siad, my fall flow will probably not exist unless I move hives.
If your yard is still green (I have only mowed 1 time this year) then you may expect a good fall flow, and want to feed up to it. I do actually normaly feed in july for AUG sunflowers (none planted here this year) so you need to look around and see what you want from your hive. How strong is it? how strong do you want it to be??


Collen, you want to feed to get them strong enough to winter! as for that black bee, Better look close at your hive, there will ALWAYS bee some crop outs!
 

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feed them cane suger not that white one , there is nothing wrong with feeding your bees once or twice a week, also if you have any doubt they not feeding and you not sure then sit in front of the hive and observe them to see if they are bringing in any pollen or nectar to the hive, i live in the tropics everything green but if there is no flower producing pollen or nectar then you bee will starve to death ,feed them
 

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Collen, you want to feed to get them strong enough to winter! as for that black bee, Better look close at your hive, there will ALWAYS bee some crop outs!
gmcharlie, thanks for the advice. Yes, I had decided the same thing. I don't really want to feed but I do want them to build enough to make it through the winter so I am doing it. I watched that black bee take off and it went over my house, away from where my hive is, so I don't think it is one of mine. That helped me decide to put the feeder in my hive instead of out in the open. I put the feeder in the hive this morning. When I put it in a black bee showed up and one if my Italians jumped it and they rolled away wrestling each other. Pretty much confirmed my suspician about them being from another hive. I've only got one entrance and it is small so hopefully they can ward off the robbers.
 

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I used light syrup in a five gallon poultry waterier and added sponge for them to climb on. I used two gallons of 1:1 and topped the feeder off with water just to make it more inviting.
gmcharlie, thanks for the advice. Yes, I had decided the same thing. I don't really want to feed but I do want them to build enough to make it through the winter so I am doing it. I watched that black bee take off and it went over my house, away from where my hive is, so I don't think it is one of mine. That helped me decide to put the feeder in my hive instead of out in the open. I put the feeder in the hive this morning. When I put it in a black bee showed up and one if my Italians jumped it and they rolled away wrestling each other. Pretty much confirmed my suspician about them being from another hive. I've only got one entrance and it is small so hopefully they can ward off the robbers.
 

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Here's my two cents: I just made a triple queenless split about a month ago, taking one strong TBH to 4 nucs essentially, one with the strong queen, the others left to raise their own. Now I have one new queen laying, one new queen not yet laying, and one queenless nuc. I decided with the lack of rain we've had that feeding the splits might be beneficial. First I put a quart feeder of 1:1 with about 2 Tbsp of honey in it, on the hive with the non-laying queen. The greedy little farts drained it in less than a day, and packed it all in empty cells. If the queen did want to lay, she can't now! That's fine, I pulled the feeder and they will eat it as needed and move it when she is ready to lay. I wanted them to use it to build comb, not just stockpile it.
So I moved the feeder to the new split with the laying queen. I know she has almost every available cell laid, so they don't have anywhere to stockpile it. My hope again is that they will use the feed to draw more comb. In the first day they only took about half the jar. By night they had just about finished it, so I replaced it. If they can't stash it, but are still taking it, my thought is that they are using it to build. But now I'm out of town for 5 days and have no idea what they are doing.

Moral of the story: feed for your needs. I should point out that all of the hives have sufficient stores, so I'm not concerned with starvation. My goal is to make them build. Best of luck to all!
 

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Well then it does look like an interloper! probably not the only one then! I run several types, but any hive I open you can find crop out bees. the Queen is such a cross, and she mates with multiple drones so the genetics can run quite a swing!
 

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there is a difference between a bee keeper and a beHAVER. people who have bees like to preach and say things like" In the wild_____" nothing against them, but thats not your question. Beekeepers are manageing the hive for production of something. (it varies from queens to packages to pollination to honey)
TO feed or not is going to depend on how bad your weather is. .... My issue right now is super severe. 50 miles north or south may make a huge difference. I am ACTUALLY useing dead leaves in my smoker. Maples are dead, my river privets and blueberries are all gone. Our blackberries vanished.... we have not had rain within 2 miles of town in well over 6 weeks. that siad, my fall flow will probably not exist unless I move hives.
Clearly, everyone's hive-management decisions have to be made with reference to the conditions that prevail where they are, and the status of their hives, "all things considered." Clearly, the drought conditions in your area are extremely severe, flowers aren't present, trees are shutting down, and so on. Clearly you have an agricultural emergency on your hands. Around these parts, that's much less common. (Furthermore, we are managing our hives attentively, but for pleasure, not for a crop.) Every case is a little bit different.

So, when I suggested, "Feed, I wouldn't ... Water, yes," well, that has to be understood to be both a fairly general comment, and a rule-of-thumb. "Your Mileage May Vary.™" "To thine own hive be true."
 
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