How to know when to feed.

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Yankee11, May 7, 2012.

  1. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    How can you tell when to put out the sugar syrup. I'm sure its different for all areas
    but is there a way to tell from watching the hives, watching the weather, etc.

    I'm curious because I have 4 new hives, 3 swarms and a cutout. It hasn't rained here for a while and all
    the fields of flowers I was seeing are gone now. So, I am trying to figure out if I need to supplement
    now until it rains again or just not worry until fall or so. How do you know.

    Thanks again. great forum.
     
  2. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    A swarm brings with it some stores from the parent hive. These stores are used to satisfy the swarm's urge to produce wax and build comb. I presume you have provided foundation for the bees to build on.

    A couple of days after I hive a swarm, I like to give them 1 to 1 syrup via a slow contact feeder. If they don't need it, they will ignore it or only take some. I like the swarm to continue to build comb and slowly expand. In very adverse conditions a swarm can starve.

    Even though you may not see flowers, the bees will find whatever is available. Watch the entrance. Bees leaving like rockets usually means they have found a nectar source. Bees returning with pollen is an indicator that brood rearing is on the cards.


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  3. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    For new colonies, without comb, I usually feed until they have enough drawn comb to overwinter on.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    since their is a long list of variable and none are easy to absolutely determine for most new bee keeper I tell then to feed until the hive grows to 1 full box of bees. after that learn to tip or heft to determine weight and then base feeding on that information/data.
     
  5. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    Yeah, I do the same.
     
  6. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    a new hive generally needs 3 things to survive the first year Feed, Feed and more Feed until they have drawn out enough comb and stores for your area to make it through the winter
     
  7. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I usually don't feed at all. But if i make a new hive and they don't have frames of honey to eat, I'll feed sugar syrup for a couple weeks or so until they get their new foragers up and running. I don't like to feed.
     
  8. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    My experience has been that bees prefer natural stuff rather than my feeding, but will take the feeding when they don't have a natural source so, I let the bees tell me.

    Every spring, in the late fall, and during the really awful drought periods we get here in Colorado in late June and July, I give all my hives a feeder. If they keep emptying it, I keep refilling it. If they just sip at it, and it's taking 3-4 days to empty, I take it off.
     
  9. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Dang,

    A quart gone in one day. I did a mason quart jar and punched a few holes in the lid and put it over a hole in the top cover.
    Did they eat all this or did it maybe run out. I used a very small nail.

    If they did eat a quart, guess I should give them more huh? Does this sound normal or might I have a mess in the hive now?
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    yankee11 writes:
    Did they eat all this or did it maybe run out.

    tecumseh:
    there can be a bit of confusion here. I like to think of this as them moving the syrup from one container to another (from the feeder device to cells) and then sometime later the syrup is first reduced in moisture content and then even later consumed.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Look for sticky syrup maybe w/ants under your frames to know whether the jar leaked.
    As Tec said- they may simply have taken all the syrup from the jar and stored it in the hive, not necessarily eaten it yet. Be sure no outside bees have easy access to the syrup or robbing may occur.
     
  12. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    and feed until they stop taking it....
    in a nectar dearth feed, and as tecumseh said, the feed will sometimes be moved "from one container to the other", and later consumed.:grin:
     
  13. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Thanks everyone. that make sense now.

    I put our 3 more quarts out this morning. 2 sitting on top of my weaker hives so they have it all to themselves and one quart sitting out in the open.

    Learning a lot here. Good Stuff.
     
  14. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Just a reminder-
    You should keep in mind that when you open feed, you will be feeding all the bees in your area within 4-5 miles of you in all directions. If there is someone 3 miles away who has their honey supers on now, they will be harvesting and eating/selling 'honey' that contains a percentage of your sugar syrup. That's not pure honey then. If there's a nectar flow on and other people (or you) have honey supers on, it's not good to be open feeding. You should also read about how open feeding encourages bee robbing frenzies, so that you are informed about that as well. :smile:

    Feeding bees is all well and good under many circumstances, but we should be aware of the down sides of feeding too so we can avoid them.
     
  15. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Ok Omie,

    You just gave me a bunch of info I need to start finding out about. What exactly do they do with the sugar syrup? First I thought they just ate it, then I found out they stored it to eat later and now they make honey out of it, but not pure honey? Plus many more questions.

    Where would I need to start looking/reading to understand this. Feeding, making honey, etc.

    So I probably should be feeding only within the hive and not when I have honey supers on?
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    yankee11,
    do not feed sugar syrup when you have honey supers on, as this syrup will be stored in the honey supers. if you must feed, leave supers off.....

    you asked: "what exactly do they do with the sugar syrup?"

    there are many variables to this question as to what the bees do with this syrup.
    in late winter/ early spring they will consume this syrup if they have no honey stores or their honey stores are low.
    in spring, they will consume/store the syrup as they are building up in population to feed the new generation's of bees
    when we hive packages, divide, or create a nucleus hive, you will give them sugar syrup to supplement because they don't have the foragers or work force available to bring enough back to the hive for all to survive on.
    when we have new foundation to be drawn, we feed the bees syrup to stimulate them to draw the foundation.
    during a nectar dearth we will feed syrup to get them through.
    in the fall we will feed syrup to supplement winter stores, to get them through winter to spring.

    there are many times bees store the syrup in any of the above and consume it later.
    i may have missed something here, so others chime in......

    hope this helps to answer your question, there are many beginning keeps books that detail 'feeding bees', many of us can give you recommendations....
    for new keeps i give them 'the beekeepers manual, written by diana sammataro and alphonse avitabile, many read 'beekeeping for dummies, but i have never read this book. find something in print, that suits your needs to help guide you, written material will help you, but experience will teach you.....:grin:
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  17. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Yankee - I think what Omie was getting at was that you want to avoid *open* feeding. As in, a feeder that other types of sugar lovers could access other than just your bees. If you have a jar inside a hive, where your ladies can get to it but other bees and things in the area would have to enter the hive itself, you likely have nothing to worry about.

    As for pure honey, I personally feel the amount of honey that could be affected by supplemental feeding is so small as to be meaningless. IF the only source of food bees have for a significant amount of time is sugar water, and by significant I mean weeks at a time, then they'll be making concentrated syrup that's kinda like honey, but it's not honey, thus it's not "pure honey".

    I've read over and over that 1 bee produces 1/12 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. How many worker bees live in a hive? How many teaspoons are in a gallon of honey? Let me do some napkin math...

    *grabs a napkin*

    *does some math*

    *has a beer*

    *tries some more math*

    *has another beer*

    *throws away the napkin, because math is hard*


    Let's just say that it's okay to supplementally feed bees a couple times a year, so that they can survive, just don't have a honey super and a sugar feeder on your hive at the same time if you're worried about pure honey.

    ...

    *has another beer*

    Weee...math is fun!
     
  18. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    heinlenfan.....
    i think from yankee11's post to Omie, yankee11 is seeking advice about the following:

    yankee11 asked omie:
    "You just gave me a bunch of info I need to start finding out about. What exactly do they do with the sugar syrup? First I thought they just ate it, then I found out they stored it to eat later and now they make honey out of it, but not pure honey? Plus many more questions. Where would I need to start looking/reading to understand this. Feeding, making honey, etc.So I probably should be feeding only within the hive and not when I have honey supers on?"

    forgive me if i misunderstood your reply to this question, and with regards to feeding with honey supers on. keeps do not place supers on if we are feeding our bees. if we are feeding our bees during spring and summer months, then that hive is not strong enough for a honey super. (well, i might replace the 'we' in this statement with i) honey supers are not placed on a hive that is being fed sugar syrup, and any amount of sugar syrup fed to bees with a honey super on that is stored, extracted and sold to a customer as 'pure honey' from a honey super......is not honey. to me this is not meaningless.
    i sincerely hope i have not misunderstood what you have said? :confused:
     
  19. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Heya riverbee,

    I think I know where the communication disconnect might be. I am talking about my feelings on supplemental feeding. Just a bit in spring, in a new hive, or in a dearth or in fall, things like that. Like what yankee has right now with so many new hives. Supplemental feeding of this nature, in my opinion, is such a small percentage of a hive's total intake as to be meaningless.

    Heavy feeding, feeding all year, feeding through winter for year long production, feeding while there are supers on, that type of feeding is a whole different beast and you're right, it's not meaningless. And I don't advocate that at all, and it's why I stopped buying mass produced honey years before I actually started keeping bees.


    The impression I got from the discussion flow was that yankee seemed comfortable after a few answers to their first question about feeding. (They posted basically "thanks, I'll go feed my bees!") Then Omie posted about open feeding and pure honey, and it felt, to my reading, that yankee's next comment seemed a little more back to being slightly bewildered, with concerns about feeding and pure honey, and how bees may store sugar syrup to use later.

    I did not want a new keeper to worry that if they used sugar water at all, like at any time of year, that the honey would then be unpure in their hive all year or that they could be adversely affecting other keepers with their supplementing, and then possibly stop feeding when bees really could use the boost.

    So, I started my comment with trying to clarify 'open feeding' so that yankee would know what exactly was meant by that. And then I tried being silly about pointing out how small a percentage supplemental feeding actually is to a total hive intake for a year, in an effort to say "hey, it's okay to supplement them!" And I ended by saying that you shouldn't feed while a super is on, to try to stress I was talking only about supplemental.


    I was not clear in my response, obviously, and I apologize for the confusion!
     
  20. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Both are correct, in my opinion.Feeding large amounts in open feeders during a flow is damaging your and your neighbor's honey, so riverbee is right.

    Feeding a new swarm a gallon during the flow isn't going to make any more difference in your strong hive's honey than empty coke cans in the trash affect city hives, so heinlein is right.