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Hello to all. Here is the question. Even if the hive is full of honey does it help to feed the hive in the winter time? Does it hurt? This is my first year so Im trying not to over do it. But I would also hate to lose the girl's from something that I could have easily fixed.
If you do feed over the winter what do you pefer? Thanks
 

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I lost two hives to starvation last year. They had honey on the frames right along side of the cluster, literally the next cell over. They simply worked their way to the top of the frames and did not move to the side at all. The pattern of the eaten cells were like an upside down funnel, starting wide at the bottom and getting narrower and narrower to the top. This year I am going to try using an in-hive frame feeder using reserved honey after it gets too cool to keep the hive top feeder on and I will also know that when the cluster nears the top of the frames I will need to put some frames of capped honey directly above them. Hopefully they will jump to the next frame up. I do not know if this is helpful, just sharing my experience as a beginner with you that placement of the feed is relevant to the location of the cluster. The bees will not take syrup that is too cold (under @ 55*F)
 

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With my lack of experience I cannot be certain of all of the answers. When I checked in to it with the available resources I felt confident that they starved. Their heads were buried into the empty cells and they were still in a tight cluster formation only on the two faces of adjoining frames. They were two Italian nucs that I had purchased in September, barely any time to gather enough honey so I had them on syrup up until the coldest part of winter. The y did not build beyond one deep hive body. I do not have sub zero temps but do dip into the teens here. I feel badly that I was not successful but am doing much better this year with Russian/Carniolians that I started from packages in April. We have had a very good year with the local wild flowers and I had one hive build out two deeps and two mediums full of honey and the other two deeps and one partial medium. Thank you for guiding me to other possibilities but I am not confident that the Varroa was or was not an issue. I am learning every day from this forum, the books and magazines. Oh, yes and of course the bees have taught me a thing or two as well!
 

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With my lack of experience I cannot be certain of all of the answers. When I checked in to it with the available resources I felt confident that they starved. Their heads were buried into the empty cells and they were still in a tight cluster formation only on the two faces of adjoining frames. They were two Italian nucs that I had purchased last year in September, barely any time to gather enough honey so I had them on syrup up until the syrup temps were too cold. They did not build beyond one deep hive body. I do not have sub zero temps but do dip into the teens here. I feel badly that I was not successful it is a hard price to pay. i am doing much better this year with Russian/Carniolians that I started from packages in April. We have had a very good year with the local wild flowers and I had one hive build out two deeps and two mediums full of honey and the other two deeps and one partial medium. Thank you for guiding me to other possibilities but I am not confident that the Varroa was or was not an issue. I am learning every day from this forum, the books and magazines. Oh, yes and of course the bees have taught me a thing or two as well!
 

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This year I am going to try using an in-hive frame feeder using reserved honey after it gets too cool to keep the hive top feeder on and I will also know that when the cluster nears the top of the frames I will need to put some frames of capped honey directly above them.
Much simpler method is to place a sheet of newspaper on top and dump 5 pounds of dry sugar on top. If bees work their way to the top this emergency supply will hold them over until the weather breaks. I am certain it saved several of my hives last winter. I do it for every hive, regardless of honey stores. Last thing I do before putting them away for the winter. Cheap insurance.
 

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Feeding bees in northern climates/states.

"Bees should be fed early enough in the fall so that the sugar has time to cure--that is, the bees have time to reduce the water content near to that of honey [about 18%]. If the syrup does not cure, it could ferment or freeze." >> "The Beekeepers Handbook",..Sammataro and Avitable.

"If you determine that feeding is necessary, do it between the end of the nectar flow and the onset of really cold weather. The bees need warm weather to process this food. If they are still flying, it is warm enough for the processing to be done".> "Beekeeping" by Richard Bonney.

I have found this to be the best policy when feeding, otherwise too much moisture [condensation] is added to the hive, even when trying to feed too late in the fall when cold weather arrives. It may be a difficult mindset for new beekeepers to overcome, but do not feed liquid sugar syrup in winter, where winters are relatively cold.
 

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Much simpler method is to place a sheet of newspaper on top and dump 5 pounds of dry sugar on top. If bees work their way to the top this emergency supply will hold them over until the weather breaks. I am certain it saved several of my hives last winter. I do it for every hive, regardless of honey stores. Last thing I do before putting them away for the winter. Cheap insurance.
I did that last winter too. One hive barely touched the sugar and the other at it all. Acts as a good moisture absorber for the hive too.
 

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May i start this post by saying I know nothing!!!! But, a proven beek I talked to said, normally bees will not starve when there is honey available. If the numbers going into winter are too small, they can not produce the needed heat. As for the dead with head in a cell, he says the bees will actually go into a cell, head first, dislocate their wings :eek:, and pump away trying to produce heat. Just adding someone elses 2 cents lol
 

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When you say that you place the newspaper/sugar "on top"... exactly where do you mean? On top of the frames in the middle deep box?
Take off the inner cover, put down newspaper on top of the frames and pour sugar on the newspaper. You'll want either a few shims or a baggie feeder box so you can put the inner cover back on the hive. It helps to slightly moisten the sugar with water in a spray bottle.

If your winters are not that harsh, you can put the sugar on top of the inner cover, but that will require the bees to break cluster to get to the sugar. I did that for one hive last winter, but there were very few days that did not make it in to the 40s.
 

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http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm

"Q. When is the best time to feed the bees?

"A. The best thing is never to feed them, but let them gather their own stores. But if the season is a failure, as it is some years in most places, then you must feed. The best time for that is just as soon as you know they will need feeding for winter; say in August or September. October does very well, however, and even if you haven't fed until December, better feed then than to let the bees starve."

--C.C. Miller, A Thousand Answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917

In my experience in my climate feeding in winter does not work. If it warms enough for them to take the syrup, the syrup will still be too cold. If it warms long enough for the syrup to warm up (or you warm it up for them) then when the cold sets back in there is too much humidity in the hive. Feeding in winter in Northern climates simply does not work.
 

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Now is a great time to feed!

Summer feeding is just as important, bees have a lot of work to do; reg. hive temp., taking care of nursery, you still have foragers, house cleaning etc... However, they will start to dip into those honey stores that they gathered in the spring to do so. You would rather have them use the sugar feed as the source of energy they need now and save the honey for later.

Another important aspect to taking care of your bees in this summer heat is to provide them with a fresh water source. If you do not have any lakes or streams close by, put out a bird bath or something they can get water from without drowning.

Your fall feeding as mentioned above will need to be done to give the stored sugar feed time to cure.

Hope this sheds a little light and adds to the thread.

Matt
http://collinsbeefeeder.com/ :thumbsup:
 

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Is summer feeding a normal practice in southern states? I can see how promotion of summer feeding would benefit some feeder companies, but, if you manage your bees properly, is it really necassary? Is it drought or derth related? Is that why Collins is supporting the practice?

How do you know when to remove your summer feeders so syrup doesn't go into the honey supers?
 

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Mark -

Yes, feeding is a common practice in the Atlanta Georgia area. Their flows are very different than yours or mine. Bizzybee has explained this to me several times. I don't see the need to question the motives of a supplier in this case. I don't see any "sales" talk taking place.
 
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