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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started a TBH in July and have been feeding 1:1 sugar water for the last seven weeks. Here's my question. Do the bees eat the syrup and use the energy to build comb? Or do they take the food from the feeder, put it in a cell (like they would nectar) and then eat it later as "honey"? Just wondering if they can use the syrup as food straight from the feeder.

Thanks!
 

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Sugar can be directly converted, but the preference is to store and convert sugars for the greater nutrition of honey. Before they can store sugars, they will directly use the syrup for conversion to beeswax scales on their lower abdomens. When you see bees festooning, just hanging in strings and clumps, they are generating wax in this situation. That is a long time to feed. If they have not started storing honey yet you have no choice but to continue or let them starve. When they are able to forage, make them work for their food.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay. Thanks for the information. But your advice to stop feeding directly contradicts other advice I've been given. Since this is a brand new top bar hive started late in the year, I've been told by several people to "feed, feed, feed" since the bees are starting from scratch. The bees seem to be doing well, but I thought they would've built more comb by now. I have eight full bars of comb, with two more started (with festooning bees on both).

I opened the hive a week ago and the bees are storing honey. Some of the newer combs are about half full of capped honey. Is your advice to stop feeding? I've also been told that the bees will stop eating from the feeder as soon as they have other resources outside the hive. They empty the feeder every day (about three cups of sugar) and I see bees going in and out the entrance. Some have pollen, and I assume some are carrying nectar. I know they are rearing brood, too.

I have read everything I've found on bees and spend a lot of time reading this forum. Conflicting information is frustrating. I don't see that is issue would be any different if I were using a Lang hive.

Thanks for your comments. I look forward to more. I see that you have about 40 1/2 years of experience on me!
 

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Beekeeping and feeding has nothing to do with hive type. Sure you have to be more careful inspecting TBH. When to stop feeding is really variable by region and individual hive. The clue for me is they have honey. If they have food you should wean them off artificial feed. If they start consuming more than they store, feed again. The hive is still young, but it is growing by your description. Top bar hives are tailored for all natural beekeeping. What would the hive be doing if you were not there to modify the natural conditions? They would be busy as bees looking for food.
 

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this time of year, people are thinking about food for the winter. So are your bees. The ratiobnal thought is to have enough Stores in the hive for them to survive on until next spring. but they need to have a place to store it too. If they have stopped making wax and just filled what they have, something else is wrong. how is your queen laying right now. she should be going strong if there is a flow of some kind. I would say you need atleast 60 lbs of stores on the bees for winter there. that would translate into a good deep in a Lang. 10 frames full, and you only have 8 total frames. sounds like a problem to me. but IDK I am a Lang keeper myself.
 

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I waited until they had two frames of capped honey before pulling feed from two packages started in April this year. They were not ready at the same time so I did them at different times. Are your bees capping food stores?
 
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