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Dry sugar works well for me. I put it on inner cover and smooth it out level around hole in center and make a path with my finger from hole to vent. After a couple days its hard as a rock from condensation. Strong hives take about a cup every two weeks or so. So far so good
 

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i have added some picture of weight equipment in the photo section (bees naturally). ideally the fish scale for tipping the front and back of hive should be used along with the heft method to build experience to quickly build experience in being able to field test for hive weight.

the hefting method usually works out this way for me... if it feels like a brick or solid bag of concrete then stores inside the hive are fine and if it feels light as a feather the hive is dead.
 

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It is not necassary to lift, weigh or heft a hive in order to make a decision on feeding dry sugar or not.

If your cluster bees are observed near the top, feed them. What do you have to loose by doing so?

When it comes to timing, don't apply the sugar too early or it will get taken out by the bees. That being said, this year, in PA and points North, I would say that Thanksgiving time would have been a good time to apply sugar on newspaper above the cluster.

I have not fed much in the North. Most all of my experience has been in SC, where it is naturally humid and rain occurs during the winter, which helps wet the newspaper, which I leave hanging out the sides of the hive, under the cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thanks guys,
After checking all of my hives, about 50% had been cleaned out of the sugar I had placed on top. I'm not sure if it was eaten, or "cleaned" out during our warm-late fall, but at any rate I put another 5 lbs. on any colonies that could take it.

I'd like to go back, sugar bags in hand, to top up any that could use it again soon. The forecast for this weekend has highs in the upper 30's. How warm would you say it needs to be to pop the top and put some sugar (and maybe more newspaper) in?

-Dan
 

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I usually top mine up when it is above 50°F and the conditions are favorable. There is usually quite a bit of hive activity in these parts when the temps rise.
 

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Slowmodem said:
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.
It was 49F today and it's been 20 days since I've looked in the top of the hive. I figured I'd check to see how they were doing. There was not much activity (one finally climbed up to see what was going on), but it was cool. They haven't ate the sugar yet (they may not) and they've ate about 1/2 the pollen patty, but it's been a warm winter so far. But I took a few pictures:



 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Quick update:
Temps were around 50 today, so I went out to 2 yards to check on the state of my hives. I had to top off the dry sugar in about half of them. All but one had bees showing around the edges of the sugar above the top bars.

All in all, I have to say I'm liking the dry sugar method of feeding. No mixing candy, cheap, and pretty quick to install. I learned my lesson not to put it on too early; I'm convinced 3 of my hives just carried it out during our warm, late fall.

-Dan

ps- I found one dead-out out of 8 hives. There were lots of stores (at least one full super left), but a relatively small, dead cluster about half way up the hive (2 deeps, 1 med). I saw a few dead SHB near the cluster, but not a lot. There were not many dead bees on the bottom board, so I'm guessing a dud queen in the fall that I failed to pick up on. If I don't lose more, I'll be pleased as punch, but I know we've got a couple of months to go here.
 
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