Advice on timing of feeding dry sugar

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    We had an unseasonably warm day today (50s), so I went to peek in to see how the supply of emergency dry sugar was looking, that I had fed earlier (Mt. Camp style). It was completely gone. I had put it on well after the frost, but we continued to have plenty of warm days after that. I suspect they just dragged it all out as debris. Oh well, live and learn.

    We are supposed to have another above-50F day here tomorrow, and then around 40 or much lower for the foreseeable future. My question is, if I continue with this feeding strategy, should I go ahead and put some more sugar on tomorrow, or wait until we're solidly in the cold temps?

    As a side note, the hives were pretty active today, one even bringing in pollen (from where, I don't know). The most active hive seemed the lightest via the heft test, and the least active hive was the heaviest. I guess that's expected, but still interesting to observe and confirm.

    -Dan
     
  2. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Last year I did Mt. Camp thing after the first frost, same as you did.
    Girls started consuming it in mid February.
    Because of warmer weather this year I will wait with Mt.Camp 'till mid January.
    My $0.02
     

  3. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    I've never really fed dry sugar with any success, so take this with many grains of salt... but I would think that once it gets really cold, the bees will not move up to get to the sugar. I've wanted to try the Mt. Camp method in Feb or so, but have always been afraid to open the hive when it was so cold out. I've tried putting it on top of the inner cover and they do not go there to get to it.
     
  4. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks for the input. It sounds like I needn't be in a rush to get it back on there. Heck, if they need emergency feed on the first of the year, they've got a long road ahead of them.

    Hobie, it's often just as useful to hear someone else's failures as much as their successes. I say this with the utmost respect and gratitude: I'd rather learn from somebody else's mistakes than my own.

    -Dan
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I would never feed by the calendar or the weather. I would feed by the heft test. If they need it, put it on. If not, don't.
     
  6. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    It got up to 61F here in east TN today. I wanted to look inside my hive to see if they had found the sugar I put in there about a month ago, but I didn't get to it. Tomorrow should be around 60F and I am going to try to get out there for sure. It has been mostly lows 30s (with some 20s) and highs 50s for the past month. However, it is going to turn really cold next week (highs in the low 30s), so I want to do everything I can to assure their survival. I don't know what I'll find in there. Hopefully buzzing bees! I have noticed some flying in and out whenever I go by there, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
     
  7. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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  8. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    That is a great rule, no extra work and expenses. :thumbsup:
    However, if your apiary is 100 miles from your residence, and you have to walk 1/2 mile through 2-3 feet of snow from the road to your hives, then "just in case" feeding makes sense :p
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""However, if your apiary is 100 miles from your residence, and you have to walk 1/2 mile through 2-3 feet of snow from the road to your hives, then "just in case" feeding makes sense""

    Buying new bees in the spring makes sense to this southern boy. :eek:
     
  10. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    I made it out to the hive today. It was around 60F (15.5C) and the wind was fairly strong around 20 mph (32 kph). The bees were very active (one coming in every 5 seconds or so), bringing in red pollen. I took the top off and it had more clusters of Asian ladybugs in the top and the inner cover. I knocked them off, but I bet I'm gonna loose that battle over the long run. There were bees crawling over the top bars, so I know they know the sugar is there. However, I don't think they've used any of it yet. It looked like the original amount and the surface was smooth. I had put a pollen patty in there as well (I figured if they needed it, they'd use it, and if they didn't need it, they wouldn't use it). The patty was about half gone. I didn't go into the hive, as I didn't want to disrupt and possibly kill bees. I was going to take a few pictures, but they were buzzing pretty good and I didn't smoke them and only had a veil on, so I didn't tarry. But, from what I saw, they look like happy bees, so I'm happy, too. :)
     
  11. herblover

    herblover New Member

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    I had the same kind of experience today in S. cental Pa. 54 degrees , a bit windy, but much activity. I went into panic mode thinking today might be it for opening to feed for 2 months. I gave them some peach jelly. They were very interested. I put it in foil on the sides of the deep which I have on top of 2 mediums. I removed 3 frames of wax to enable the jelly jar (freezer safe) and the foil pans I made. Also wrapped the hive with foam insulation on three sides only. It is going to get very much colder tomorrow and maybe for quite some time. I used no smoke and did as little invading as I could. They were docile yet busy with the warm temps. They were bringing in clear and liquid looking wax on their legs.?? Any thoughts on what that substance might be?
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You will need to remove those things before they start drawing wax in the spring. The very first wax they draw will be comb in that area, causing you more trouble than you want, especially when it is still that cool.
     
  13. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I would be careful feeding such things as jelly. Increased impurities, additives, coloring, by-products, all increase the build up of matter within the bees gut and the need for frequent cleansing flights. Without these cleansing flights, dysentery can develop.

    Here is a simply method of feeding dry sugar.

    http://www.pennapic.org/feedingsugar.html
     
  14. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Feeding sugar and any success with it, depends upon where the bees will starve. If they starve in cluster on brood in a lower box, feeding sugar has little impact.

    But with the right bees (those that shut down when they should), and especially those shutting down and actually moving in the early part of winter, these bees will eat their way to the top box. This assumes that no empty frames or extra boxes are sitting on the hive, and the beekeeper properly prepared the hive the way it should be.

    So the bees eat their way to the top, and this is where early brood would normally start in late winter. This is also the place where bees should end up if starving. Many times, bees at the inner cover is an indication of light hives. I know if I have a cluster in November in the top box at the inner cover hole, this is not good.

    So feeding at this location allows the bees to maximize their use of trapped heat. The top of the hive is where starving bees should be anyways. Will they all go to that location? No. Sometimes they have no clear path to eat to that location. Sometimes, they are stuck on brood. And sometimes they simply do not need it. But I have found it to save many hives. And this year in the northeast, there are many light hives.

    Bees dead in cluster three boxes down from the top are for reasons of a small cluster (freeze out), disease, or a cluster (too few bees) starving due to the dynamics of not being able to get to the food. A healthy cluster with a properly stocked and prepared hive should die at the top. So feeding sugar at the top only really saves those hives healthy enough that would of survived anyways, but for the lack of food.

    I hear many say they fed, and their bees died anyways. That was not due to the feed or location. That was due to other circumstances.

    Hope that was clear enough.
     
  15. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    After reading some posts after my post, I thought I'd clarify (if anyone is interested). I put newspaper on the top bars of the second deep and put 8 lbs of sugar on the newspaper. I put an empty medium on top of the two deeps, then the inner cover and telescoping cover on top of the medium box.
     
  16. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Put the paper inside so it makes a trough for the sugar to lay in. Otherwise, should you bump your super, which is on top of the paper, the sugar could spill out.

    Whenever I have fed dry sugar, and I have fed tons over the years, I always used a feeder rim about 1 1/2" tall. Remove the hive cover, install the rim, lay the sugar in the rim and dump a 5lb bag of sugar onto the paper, replace the cover.

    Five lbs of sugar give a colony another month of feed, the same as a deep frame of honey. Both contain 5lbs of feed.

    I have applied sugar in this manner in SC in Nov. or Dec. and returning in March have found some colonies w/ burr comb full of honey in the rim where the sugar used to be and some colonies had hardly touched the sugar, but they had completed the crossword puzzle. Smart bees. But I don't know where they got the ink from.

    The right amount of honey in a hive, in the right place, is better than dry sugar. Dry sugar is insurance. Sometimes it pays, sometimes it don't.
     
  17. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    [quote="BjornBee"
    ............Hope that was clear enough.[/quote]

    Yes Bjorn it was clear enough :thumbsup:

    New BK's should copy/paste Bjorn's post.
    From this post one can learn a lot.
    How to feed dry sugar, which hives will benefit from it, what are realistic expectations, and some physics of the winter cluster. Excellent.
     
  18. Larus

    Larus New Member

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    I never quite understood how to do the "heft test" or how to interpret the results. If I grab the back of the bottom board with both hands and try to tilt the hive, but cannot, does that mean they are okay on honey stores, or does that mean I have to get back to the gym and get some muscle on those noodle arms? :confused: And if your hive is close to the ground, you have to squat down just to get in a proper position to lift it (from a weightlifting point of view), and then you are not really "hefting" it with your arms, but with your legs. Even a notorious gym avoider like me can lift a couple hundred pounds with his legs.

    So, while this may seem like a ridiculously nitpicky question, how exactly do you lift the hive (with one hand? With both hands? From a squatting position? Bent over, with legs straight?) and at what point do you draw the line between the hive feeling "heavy enough" and "not heavy enough"?
     
  19. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Add to that, the same amount of honey will feel heavier or lighter depending on where in the hive it is stored and which edge you choose to lift.

    I think this is an "experience" thing. You do it enough and you come to know what "feels" right. It's an art, not a science. And you never know when the weather will snap cold and the poor little bees will starve with plenty of honey 2 inches away. Been there.

    If you are gadgety, I have seen somewhere a home-built rig with a scale to remove some of the guesswork.
     
  20. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I walk up to the side of the hive with the entrance to my left. I lay my arm on the top front of the hive and lift the back of the hive with my right hand, while putting pressure on my left arm to keep the pressure off my back.
    Then I approach the hive from the opposite side and reverse the procedure to lift the front. No straining of the back, and doesn't take long to learn to compare hives and determine which are light.