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I started some new hives this year and becasue of poor honey flow it looks like they won't have enough supplies in the hive body to overwinter very well. I've never fed during the winter and I'd like some suggestions. This is the Chicago area so temperatures go below freezing for extended periods.
 

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In your location, you need to feed during the late summer through the Fall. The goal is to get them to store your feed to use during the winter. Depending on how light the hives are will deternime the amount you will need to feed.
One mistake I have seen with people feeding, but not feeding enough. You will need to be making gallons of feed to get some weight on your hives. Shop around and see if you can get sugar in 25lb or a 50 lb bag. Target seem to have a 10lb bag at a good price right now.
 

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Start feeding sugar/water now at a 1:1 ratio, they might suck down 1/2 gallon to a gallon of syrup a day so to save some money buy a 25 lb bag of sugar! Wouldnt hurt to put some pollen substitute patties in the hive as well. In few weeks check inside the hive to inspect the progress! If you still need to feed later on remember that the sugar ratio for fall feeding goes to 2:1 ratio..(2 parts sugar/1 part water) Right now your bees should be atleast bringing in pollen, sometime walk out to your hive and watch your bees go in and out of the hive and see what they are bringing in!! Good Luck!
 

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This year I went for bees instead of honey and expanded my apiary from 3 to 8 hives and 3 nucs. The bees have drawn over 100 frames of foundation and another 20-30 foundationless. That being said, there is very little honey in each hive so I'm feeding 2:1 right now. They are definitely taking a gal every 2 days. I've put 15 gal on 6 hives since last Saturday. The queens are all still laying like crazy as all of the hives have over a super of eggs/larvae/brood and the workers have packed several frames of pollen per hive. The flow has just been poor and there was very little honey left after making all the comb.

Remember to feed early enough that they can cap it before it gets too cold. I'm planning on feeding another 200lbs of sugar before end of Sep.
 

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Your winters start abit later than ours. We start to feed early September. Closer to Sept 1 as possible. Our bees take in about 5-7 gallons of feed 2:1 ratio. Get it on earlier rather than later so the bees can dry it down and prep it for winter. Feeding too late will create condensation in the hives. We use pails inverted on the tops of the hives.
When we had only a few hives, we fed sugar syrup. When that got to be an un-manageable thing for us, we bought HFCS. This year with our change in companies we supply our bulk honey to, we are going with sucrose.
I have heard of guys using a 5 gallon pail to feed. And they take it in really fast, which is good. For me though we use 2.5 gall pails and refill. 5 gall pails are just plain to heavy for me to lift.
Some beeks use hive top feeders. I have learned that a hive that is on the bit weaker side will not be able to use the hive top feeder especially if it gets colder. They do better on inverted pails. That said, I have learned alot the last few years and will not winter weaker hives. They just don't make it and feeding gets costly. I will be more inclined to combine two weaker hives, pinching the weaker of the two queens (sometimes that is a guess) rather than feeding two hives. I have had better luck this way. By the way, that is two healthy but weaker hives. Weaker because they got a late start, not weaker due to mites or disease.
If you are a treating beek, this is when we treat also. Remember if you are using strips to treat mites...like Apivar (not sure your brand), it works on contact with the bees. So placing it in the top brood box is pointless since they will fill it with feed and move lower down, reducing the effacy of the strips considerably.
We winter in doubles and wrap and provide windbreaks for the hives.
 
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