"Mountain Camp" sugar method - how to prepare?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Hobie, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    If I am considering feeding dry sugar (on newspaper, a.k.a. the "Mountain Camp" method), do I need to put a spacer or an empty super or something on the top of the hive now?

    I do not want to create too much empty space. All I have to work with are shallow supers and shims that are essentially inner covers with the center cut out.

    Also, when you open to add the sugar, how do you keep from chilling the bees?
     
  2. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    This 'mountaincamp' method was intended as an emergency measure when bees did not have enough honey supplies stored. There seems to be a current trend where people are feeding their bees during more and more times of the year. Personally I'm not sure how beneficial this is.

    Try using either one spacer or two spacers, or a shallow super. Using one spacer of about 1" to 1 1/2" height will give you enough room to pour on about 5 lbs of sugar. If you are putting more than 5 lbs, you need more than just one spacer.
    Notice in this photo that I left gaps all along two sides so that the bees could move up around the newspaper if they wanted, but mostly to allow ventilation. I trimmed the long side flaps of newspaper before closing the hive.
    [​IMG]

    You keep from chilling the bees by putting the sugar on when the temp is above 45F or 50F.
    The idea is to put this on in late Fall and then leave the hive closed for the winter. The hive not like a refrigerator that you keep opening and restocking with beer all winter. :lol: Don't open the hive when temps are below 45F... that means for several months in mid winter if you live in the northeast. Opening your hive during frigid cold, even briefly, can kill your bees.

    I did this dry sugar method on my one hive last winter, but it died. I found wet dead bees and mold in the hive in the Spring. I suspect the layer of damp hardened sugar on paper didn't help much, and this year I am not using this method. Instead, this year I just left the bees with their own honey in their two deeps, I've put insulation foamboard above the inner cover, and am leaving an open screen bottom and a small top entrance to improve condensation control.

    hope some of this helps.
     

  3. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    We have used the bag that the sugar comes in and just cut and X across the top of it pulling the tabs that created out to expose the sugar and set a shallow super over the top of it all. We have never had any kind of problems with feeding the bees this way, but the winter that we had sugar syrup on the hive we had issues with condensation inside which caused mold to grow inside. That hive did not make it through the winter either :(
     
  4. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Hmmm. I was thinking of having this as an option if the bees felt light in stores come February and March. (Which is when I lost both hives 2 years ago.) Perhaps I have the wrong idea. I don't take fall honey and I generally do not feed. But winters here are too cold to be tearing their roof off.

    Guess I'll just stick to the original plan. Maybe add sugar in spring if we get a warm day.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Hobie writes:
    I was thinking of having this as an option if the bees felt light

    tecumseh:
    If I used dry sugar (which I don't) that is how I would deploy the mountain camp method. There is really little downside to opening a hive at the temperature Omie suggested and putting a newspaper on top plus sugar. Without a doubt at the same temperatures you would not want to dismantle a hive. In places where gaining access or where day time temperatures are alway low then doing this as 'fall preparation' might add some insurance.

    I 'may' have unintentionally been the person who coined the term 'mountain camp method' some time ago and have been somewhat chastised once or twice by exceptional northern tier beekeepers for 'promoting' this idea. It is not the end all strategy for confronting all the problems of overwintering bees in the most northern climates. In almost every aspect of beekeeping planning pays and northern beekeepers would be much better advised to plan to feed early (in the prior fall) rather than lean to heavily on the meager rations of dry sugar to get their hives thru a winter.

    I would like to know what Hobie's 'wrong idea' was in regards to this strategy?
     
  6. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    What I meant was that I had previously assumed that the dry sugar method was a way to add feed in an emergency situation in climates where syrup would turn into an ice brick. However, I doubted my own assumption, because I could not figure out how people got the sugar into the hive when the air temps were cold. This was my "wrong idea."

    From what I gather now, the dry sugar method is just an alternative to feeding other ways, during milder times of the year when one can access the hive.

    The whole basis of this post was a couple years ago, when I saw all my bees flying on a warm day (maybe 45F and sunny) in February. Then we had a 2 week cold snap, and, come spring, every bee was dead from starvation. Broke my heart. Maybe the thing to have done was add sugar on that "warm" day.

    What I need to invent is a short hive box with a tray and an external hopper for pouring in the dry sugar. Sell it to all the northern beekeepers and make millions of dollars. Okay, maybe more like "ones" of dollars! :lol:
     
  7. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    One thing I might add;

    Speed is important, dittybopin around is not allowed !!

    If using this method, have every thing prepared, a single sheet of newspaper {actually a couple so if the wind blows you will still have one}, spacer ready to install, sugar bag opened ready to pour.

    Pull top cover,
    Place newspaper {which will cover/close hive}which should take about 10 sec.or so,
    Set spacer on top of paper,
    Take tool and punch a few cuts along the sides,
    Pour sugar in middle, quickly smooth sugar to a degree,
    Replace top cover.

    No need to look for bees, honey, or what ever. They are either there or not.

    Remember, all the old bee books did not call it " Mountain Camp " it was generally referred to as
    " Emergency sugar feeding "

    Good Luck
    Murrell
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :goodpost:

    I would precut the paper about 16 X 18, then you wouldn't have to cut slots in it in a 10 frame box. If using 8 frame equip., measure and cut to size, leaving an inch all around.
     
  9. Bitty Bee

    Bitty Bee New Member

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  10. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Excellent article! Very good point about newspaper sticking out between the boxes.
     
  11. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I brought some hives through last winter with the mountain camp method and was impressed. Like others have said, it's an supplement feed in late winter, not ment to be a total feeding process. Good luck. Jack
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    perhaps Jack might provide a bit more detail of when and how much in regards to his implementation of this technique???
     
  13. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Last year was the first time i used the mountain camp method only on hives with light stores. Two hives i put sugar on in Nov.that i estimated had 30# to 40# of stores (by lifting the back of the hives),i laid newspaper on top of the frames with a 1/2 in.gap on the edges and dumped 15# of sugar on it, i sprayed water around the edges (with a squirt bottle) to make the sugar set up.Catch a day when the temp. is above 55 deg. (60 is better) when you do this. In my area i check my hives by lifting the back of the hives in Feb. (the maples and willows start budding out) they will use up what stores they have left in a hurry raising brood, and if needed put more sugar on (it's still to cold for them to take syurp). I had 5 other hives i put mountain camp on in Feb. and they came through fine. My wife loves this method, it keeps me out of her kit. making fondant :mrgreen:

    PS. A normal winter in my area 50# to 60# of stores will get hives through. Jack
     
  14. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    :doh: spraying the edges with water!!!! I got so frustrated by the sugar cascading down on the sides that I ended up just laying the bag down and cutting an X across the top and then peeling the X apart to make an opening that the bees could use :oops: Sometimes I wonder if I wasn't meant to be blonde for a few more years??!! :p
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks for the description Jack.

    mamabeek writes:
    I got so frustrated by the sugar cascading down on the sides

    tecumseh:
    Years ago when we use granulated sugar for emergency feed we just poured a bag down the side of the box. no paper, no water......
     
  16. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Tec, and no screen bottomboard. :lol: Jack
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    WHAT"S THAT YOU SAY JACK... screened bottom boards? Ha.

    the bottom boards on that operation were a nightmare but you didn't need to worry about the sugar pouring out the bottoms either.