Feeding in winter depending where you are can be tricky. In Michigan if you used sugar syrup it would freeze and the bees can’t break cluster to get at it. In late winter I put newspaper down and pour dry sugar in it.
I put newspaper down and pour dry sugar in it.[/QUOTE]
I've read that objections to this method is that one can't look in hive with the newspaper on it.
Why couldn't a person lay the newspaper on top of a queen excluder on top of the frames? Then just lift the excluder if you wish to look inside.
I try to feed in the fall if I think the bees will need food in the winter. Some beekeepers here in Maine are now leaving a medium super full of honey on top of their double deeps to ensure the bees have enough. I have candy, fondant and sugar (mountain camp method) over the years, and the only thing I've really determined is that I'd rather feed the bees in the fall.
I heard a talk yesterday (I didn't take notes) that using plain sugar as a winter feed may do more to feed Nosema (if you already have it) than it helps the bees. The increase in Nosema spore counts after feeding plain sugar was appalling. That said, I fed sugar to several hives last winter that seemed like they needed more food in February and 50% of the colonies didn't touch the sugar - I guess they didn't need it.
I fed my 2 hives some stored frames of last year's semi-crystallized honey this month, they appreciated it. Didn't give syrup. Other than that, they have their two deeps each jammed with lots of honey and I'm now going with the idea that honey will be the best food for them this winter.
Last year I learned that they won't take sugar syrup anyway when it's colder than 50F, and my last year's hive died despite dry sugar piled on top of the frames on a newspaper sheet. This year I see they have some good honey supplies laid in so I'm letting them feed themselves this winter.
I try to make sure the girls have enough stores to make it through winter. That means honey in both brood boxes plus an extra box on top. Since bees fly here all winter long (lots of 50 degree days; some 60 degree days), they can really go through stores and starvation is a big problem, so starting January, I start hefting my hives. If they get light, the hivetop feeders go on and I feed 2:1 cane sugar.
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