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Discussion Starter #1
I live in the Piedmont area of NC and this is my first winter beekeeping. Daytime temps have been below 56 for the last two weeks and night temps into the 20s. I use a "Rapid Feeder" which holds two quarts of syrup which the bees access through the opening in the inner cover. Lifting the outer cover of the hive, I could see bees feeding on the syrup when the weather was above 55. The syrup has not frozen. Am I correct in assuming that the cluster will break and feed on the syrup as long as it doesn't freeze and temps allow? Is there any point in switching to dry sugar via newspaper as long as the syrup is viable? I am trying to resist temptation to do an inspection. As always, thanks for your help -- I have learned so much from the forums.

Debbie
 

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Debbie,

Came to the right place. Syrup doesn't freeze as easy as water because of the carbohydrate contents. So long as the average daily temps are above freezing, should be OK to continue feeding. We've discussed many times the "Mountain Camp" dry sugar feeding method. Simply remove any syrup feeder and place a few layers of newspaper on top of the 10 or 8 frame super just above their normal clustering spot (if you know). Then pour dry sugar in a thin layer across most of the paper, replace the inner and outer covers, done.

They'll get moisture from the varying temps & condensation within, food from the dry(candy) sugar and excess moisture will be absorbed by the sugar to make the candy and protect them from cold water drops.
 

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Is there any point in switching to dry sugar via newspaper

The posted photos of the Mountain Camp method shows the bees working the sugar on newspaper over the top bars. You can not get the sugar closer than that at this time of the year.

Good luck.
Ernie
 

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Thanks, SwedeBee. I think I will be able to do the "Mountain Camp" feeding if it becomes necessary, but hopefully we will sail into ""warmer" weather in another month. I am a NC transplant via Vermont and upstate NY, so I have had a belly full of the cold and snow. Daffodils in February are definitely an improvement and makes life easier for the bees, as well as the keepers.

Debbie
 

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The syrup has to make it above 50 F before the bees will take it in any amounts and with colder nights and mid 50 days, it never does. Dry sugar will not be stores per se, but will be eaten when they are starving. How heavy is the hive? That is the real issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Michael and Ernie:

This was a nuc-size hive going into fall. I had a laying worker and had to dump and requeen in August which was successful. Between October and November the bees exploded (from nothing to a full eight-frame hive body), and I added a second hive box in early November that was worked. I am estimating that I have a fairly small population of bees to preserve, and not a great store of honey, although they were bringing in pollen and taking syrup into early December. I won't be crushed if I end up with nothing come spring, but it would be great if this small hive does survive. I would be willing to do Mountain Camp dry sugar if you recommend it now. I could remove the inner cover, put newspaper and sugar on top, and probably allow syrup feeder to remain with a slit in newspaper to allow bees to ender syrup feeder. What do you think?

Debbie
 

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The syrup won't get touched now. I have trouble picturing what you mean by a "slit on the newspaper" to let them get to the syrup, but you don't want all the sugar to fall through. Make sure it's clumped before you cut any slits. I'd skip the slits and the syrup feeder at this point and stick with the dry sugar slightly wetted to clump it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The Rapid Feeder is mentioned in Michael's website. It is a closed system which is nice for amateur beeks, although probably a little pricey for commercial operations. It allows the bees to access the syrup from the center hole of the inner cover, and you can refill without opening the cover (less protective clothing needed). We do get occasional daytime winter temperatures when the bees will break cluster and feed on the syrup, although we haven't had any warm days in two weeks, and don't expect any next week. I guess I will remove the syrup feeder, put on the newspaper and clumped dry sugar, and wait for a warm spell to reintroduce the syrup. I am concluding that your opinion is that the bees will take dry sugar below 56 degrees to avoid starvation, when they would not take syrup (although it is not frozen) -- ?? My thought was to leave the Rapid Feeder on the newspaper as well in case they would take it on warm days. They would have to have an opening in the newspaper to get to it, thus the slit. I understand that they will chew through the newspaper to get the dry sugar. Presumably they would not chew through to get at the syrup.

Debbie

Again, thanks for the advice.
 

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I have a hard time introducing change into something that already appears to be working. The way you have them now appears to be working, no? The bees have built and have made it with activity up until now? They appear to be able to access the syrup as you have it setup now, you see them using it? Are temperatures this time of year normally colder than now from here on out or are they normally stable to warming from here on?

We are past the winter solstice, the change of days, the queen will be laying now, a little at a time, which means brood nest will be kept at 94 degrees. If the syrup is right over the broodnest then it will be warmed perhaps?

Don't get me wrong, I think the Mountain Camp method sounds like a great idea, but if you already have something that appears to be working, is it worth changing at this time or would it be better to wait and monitor the situation as it develops the way it is?
 

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I agree with Ray but would add that, if the bees stop taking the syrup AND if you're worried about stores, it won't hurt to use some dry sugar. You'll just need to plan your effort on a warmish day. It was in the 40's around here today. Sugared a few hives. Found one dead out and one almost gone. The dead out was almost a goner in the fall. The other one surprises me.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, Ray and Ravens. I just lifted the outer cover (5 p.m., 50 F degrees) and was surprised to see them feeding on the syrup! They were doing some housekeeping -- a couple of dead bees on the landing area. I think the syrup must be heated by the cluster. I will hang on a bit longer before adding the dry sugar, but will keep it handy.

Debbie
 

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Hi Debbie,

I'm pretty near you, nice day today:)
I put out a bucket of syrup they worked pretty well
I've had pretty good luck with dry sugar, I'd add a little to your current setup if it were me, helps a lot with moisture
sounds like they might be kinda light and the weather forecast is not good for Jan and Feb (although I think they forecast warm and not much snow for the mid-west :doh:)
your feeder may not stay warm enough if we get a cold spell

here's a video of mine taking dry sugar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZYtGNa6S6c

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Dave:

Neat video! I see your newspaper/sugar didn't completely cover the frames. I think I could leave the syrup feeder on and still get enough flat space to put on some dry sugar. The video helps me think this through. Thanks.

Debbie
 

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absolutely,

you can do both
a little dry sugar is good insurance for the moisture they produce from the syrup you're feeding and a nice backup for a 2 week cold spell to boot
I'm going to put on pollen patties and start syrup in entrance feeders in a couple of weeks. I'll bring the feeder jars in overnight to keep them warm. I'll definately have a little dry sugar on the topbars for insurance and moisture control. nice tricks you can do when you only have a few hives:)

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Dave:

I've been mesmerized by your photos and videos -- "The swarm" was great. Good website! I didn't think about entrance feeders for syrup. I gave up on these this summer due to robbing and yellowjackets and had much better luck with the Canadian Rapid Feeder. Bringing jar inside at night would ensure it starts out warm in the a.m. and critters aren't likely to be a problem. You've got some good ideas! Thanks.

Debbie
 

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top feeders are nice to stop robbers and such, I'm just too cheap to buy them
the ones I built drowned a lot of bees:doh:
in late summer (for buildup), I just put out a bucket of syrup somewhere away from the hives. I think they burn it all raising brood:rolleyes:
in winter, the mix of entrance feeders and dry sugar on top seems to work well for me
they sound light, give em carbs, spring is on the way:)

Dave
 

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Ok - Admittedly I'm very new at this, before new really. But...

Is there anyone who feeds ONLY dry sugar when they feed? Is there a reason not to do that?

Thanks for indulging the ignorant newbie!:rolleyes:
 
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