Feeding Sugar

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by brooksbeefarm, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Went to 3 bee yards today to check stores, 58F. cloudy,windy, and misting rain. Ok, ok, i know your don't bother bees on this kind of day, but it had to be done and the only time i had before the first of the year (hives 60 miles away). Put 10lbs of sugar (each) on 2 hives that i thought was a little light, maybe 40 to 50lbs each of stores. One hive in each of the other two i had put 10lbs of sugar on about a month ago, had ate all the sugar except a hard clump about the size of a golf ball and they were all over it, there wasn't even any paper left? These 2 hives also had 40lbs or more stores when i put sugar on them, and by looking down between the frames it didn't look like they had ate any honey stores? I didn't pull any frames, but the bees were spread out all over the top bars, with some on the landing board and a few were flying between showers (and mean).My question is why would they eat the sugar before the honey stores? It has been warm here fore this time of year 40's and 50's that might be the reason but i thought it a little strange. :confused: Jack
     
  2. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    They're still in the mindset of building up stores for winter, that's not a bad thing, especially since it sounds like you're going to need to feed them again... 40-50 lbs is what I would consider really light for this time of year and given the likelihood of a long, wet, warm winter.
     

  3. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Most times in our area 40lbs will make it through till mid Feb. (the Maples and Willows start budding) and i start feeding the light ones. I like to have 60 to80lbs on going into the winter, but with the warm temps. were having, there eating more. :roll: Jack
     
  4. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    exactly why I think 40-50 lbs. is light for this year and this time of year. I also expect winter to drag on a few (2-3) weeks longer than normal, so I'm figuring that into how much I fed and left on the hives as well. Fortunately I robbed early this past summer and left them to the rest of year's haul which left them heavy (80-120 lbs. each hive) by late fall and I've continued to feed them since and will continue feeding with dry sugar until the weather no longer permits me to slap more feed on them. Plus with as few hives as I have I've been able to get some really good deals on sugar so it hasn't cost me much to feed this year. By the way, Food City has Domino sugar on sale this week for $2.50 / 4lbs and there's a $0.75/1 Domino Sugar coupon still in circulation which brings the price to .44/lb. there... if you have the coupon... if not you can probably find a coupon clipping service that'll sell you a bulk qty of the coupons for 8-10 cents each which still leaves the total cost below .50/lb. of sugar.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    jack writes:
    My question is why would they eat the sugar before the honey stores?

    tecumseh:
    my guess is that not all the sugar was consumed but was merely reconverted to a liquid form of sugar and essentially stored (in cells). some gross weight measurement before and after would confirm or refute this hypothesis.
     
  6. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    My own small experience with dry sugar...
    When I put 10 lbs of dry sugar on top of the frames of one hive a couple years ago in November, I then watched bees methodically leaving the hive carrying little chunks of white sugar in their mouths. Bee after bee after bee, all day long on warm days. I now suspect much of the sugar it looked like they had eaten was actually just removed by them and dumped as intrusive debris.

    That hive died during the winter anyway, and there seemed to be lots of dampness and condensation when I examined it in the Spring. They still had full frames of capped honey everywhere, too. I think condensation got them.
     
  7. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Hmmm.....I think the advice of waiting till cold weather sets in, was not followed. Having a bad experience in using dry sugar, really is not a reason to forever somehow suggest it's not worthy, but perhaps a cue to ask why this happened, how can it be stopped in the future, and take the steps to improve upon this idea.

    Of course bees will clean out dry sugar. Not always, but it will happen. Especially if bees are still active. I see it in maybe 1 in 10 hives. And if they are dragging the sugar out the front door, I would suggest that that is not really "cold" weather as I would suggest waiting for to place dry sugar. Dry sugar is considered "emergency feed" and is to be used as a final attempt after other feeding options have been used in warmer weather periods. Once cold weather sets in, then you use dry sugar if still needed.

    Here is some info on feeding dry sugar.... http://www.bjornapiaries.com/feedingoptions.html

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Yes I agree with you Bjorn. Dry sugar should be an emergency measure, and applied in cold weather.
    It was very cold when i put it on, but then a warm spell came along and the bees started hauling it out. lol
    I was so worried about not doing enough to 'help' my bees at that time. Everyone seemed to advocate feeding, feeding, feeding....and I felt compelled to do as they advised.
    Now 2 years later I'm a little less likely to follow everyone else's advice...I've adopted more of a 'when in doubt, don't' attitude.
    I have no doubt I will wind up being a stubborn old she-goat eventually.

    Hmmm...maybe I'm actually there already.... :roll:
     
  9. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    You won't get an argument from me..... :lol:
     
  10. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Bjorn -

    Do you make your own fondant? If not, what do you use as a source for your fondant?

    Thanks.

    Mike
     
  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Call your local bakery supply store. Dawn products is what I believe he uses (me too). Use only the type made of nothing but the ingredients shown in the picture (sugar, water, glucose), no colouring no flavours, etc.


    [​IMG]
     
  12. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    From reading your post, i must be lucky or my bees are gluttons. :mrgreen: I've fed sugar for a surplus going on five years now and have never seen them throwing it out, or seen any signs of it. :thumbsup: Feeding sugar has been a life saver for me, my wife said if you ever make another mess like the last time you made fondant in my kitchen, i'll kill you. :shock: Jack
     
  13. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    lol! It's all good!
     
  14. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    I have to disagree with you on the point that dry sugar shouldn't be used normally. I have two reasons for making it a normal part of my winter regimen, first because it is hydroscopic it will suck moisture out of the air in the hive which reduces the liklihood of getting chaulkbrood or other condensation issues; and second because it serves as emergency feed even if I'm oblivious to the emergency. I don't check my bees in the winter, so if they go through their honey stores quickly, I am unlikely to know about it until it's too late, but if I have 10+ lbs. of sugar on a hive I don't have to worry about that situation either.
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    bens writes;
    I don't check my bees in the winter, so if they go through their honey stores quickly, I am unlikely to know about it until it's too late, but if I have 10+ lbs. of sugar on a hive I don't have to worry about that situation either.

    tecumseh:
    this is the primary reason why dry sugar is considered an emergency food. the fact that it sucks up water and doesn't add significant water like syrup is one 'advantage' of feeding sugar in the dry form. this advantage is much more important (I would think???) at jacks or bjorn or any of the canadian beekeepers location than here or in Tennessee.

    long ago I did see bees dragging dry sugar out of a hive but this was always associated with some small flow coming into the hive very early in the spring time. at the time this was not view as such a bad thing since the hive in question had the sugar poured into it because it was very much on the edge of starvation and the sugar being dragged out indicated to us that it had made it at least till the first spring time flow. another 'advantage' of plain dry sugar as emergency feed is it doesn't call out the robbers as most liquid feeds do.
     
  16. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Actually, it makes sense to me that it wouldn't be as important to northern beekeepers since the colder the air is, the less humid it is so they may not have condensation issues to think about like we do here, where we get more rain than snow in the winter and everything seems to stay damp all winter long.
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    well the moisture problem (relative to a beehive) is not external to the hive but created thru the bee's biological activity (respiration). at certain time you can see this directly... typically just above the winter cluster and accumulating on the inside of the top cover you can see a wet spot (splash area). at those locations farther north this can slowly accumulate in the form of an ice. when this ice begins to thaw it is the ice water that can and does kill a hive.

    at those location not adding water or having something to wick up the excess water is extremely important for winter survival.
     
  18. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I usually don't see chalk until springtime and brood is in full swing.

    You can dissagree if you want. Not everyone in beekeeping will be correct. :D

    I personally think that if the hives are heavy enough and based on my beekeeping experience and knowledge, just the same that any beekeeper could utilize, that 10 pounds of sugar would be overkill in 90% of my hives. My management is too leave enough honey for the bees to survive without making adding 10 pounds of sugar a standard practice. Not sure the "sleep factor" if you dump 10 pounds on a hive that already has 90 pounds of honey.

    And while sugar does soak up moisture, I'm not sold on the concept that this is a reason to dump sugar on every hive. Yes, when your talking about moisture impacts of the hive, dry sugar far outweighs the detrimental impact of feeding sugar syrup all winter long, which does pump in tremendous amounts of moisture in the hive.

    So how much moisture do you really think 10 pound of dry sugar really soaks up? Does it do this constantly, and spits out the water like a dehumidifier? No it does not. It is a constant material increasing in moisture content as moisture in the hive increases or decreases. The hive puts off tremendous amounts of moisture. And with the air flow on rainy days being 70-100 moisture and adding what the bees are putting off, I really thinks it's misguided to think some dry sugar is doing much at all. Yes, the sugar soaked up moisture when you put in the hive. After that, it would be unreasonable in my opinion to think this is some "control" of moisture from that point forward.

    Some promote moisture management with special tops with newspaper, sawdust, and the idea of a cloth liner, etc. But I venture to say this is great for keeping moisture from collecting and dripping on bees, and much less in removing moisture from inside the hive.

    I've never seen a study of moisture levels between hives without sugar on top, and hives with sugar on top. Or any other material for that fact. And while the concept is an easy sell on the surface, (this idea of putting on sugar and controlling or lowering moisture levels), I think that a study would show otherwise when seen throughout the entire winter season.
     
  19. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    When putting sugar on a hive, i will smoke the bees down off the top bars. I then lay a sheet of newspaper over the top bars with 1/2 in. gap all around for the bees to have access to the sugar, i then (with a spray bottle of water) spray a light coat of water on the newspaper, (in the center) i then spread a bag of sugar out making it about 1 in. all around. I then spray a light coat of water on top of the sugar, then add another bag of sugar and another light coat of water. This makes the sugar cake up, making a roof over the cluster.I found that the cluster will eat the paper in the middle ( That's why i spray the paper lightly) and eat the sugar up the middle and out the sides. Bjorn, i've been saying 10 lbs of sugar, actually they are two 4 lb. bags, they were always 5# bags when i was growing up. :mrgreen: Now you guys tell me the pros and cons of why i should or shoudn't feed sugar this way, it just seemed natural to me. :confused: Jack
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I try to prevent excessive condensation inside the winter hive by 1) keeping a small upper entrance for ventilation, and 2) adding a 2" foamboard under the outer cover to prevent condensation from forming when the warm humid air from the cluster rises and hits the frigid cold top cover. It acts like an insulated attic with a ridge vent.

    The one time I had no upper entrance and no insulation layer under the top cover, but instead applied 10# dry sugar on newspaper and sprayed it down slightly just as you describe Brooks, that hive died ...in the Spring the frames were covered with mold and wet dead bees, and the dry sugar remaining was like a big rock-hard wet slab. Maybe they died for other reasons, but I just don't want to repeat the same conditions to find out. To each their own! :)