Question on feeding a newly installed package

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Steve777, May 4, 2013.

  1. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    Probably nothing to be concerned about, however I am puzzled by the feeding, or perhaps I should say lack of feeding, for this hive in which I just installed a 3# package about 9 days ago.

    After about 3 days I did check and the queen was out of her cage, and they had gone through the quart of 1:1 syrup I have in an empty 9-1/4" box, over their main brood chamber, which I refilled. Refilled just jar again ~ 3 days later, again they had emptied it. Part of the reason I checked them at that time is it was the last warm day before a snow storm. After 3 rather stormy cold days it was almost 50F so I thought I should refill the feeder jar again, as that seem to be the interval they were using it up in.

    Well I went into the top box with the feeder, and they had only gone through maybe 1/3 of the quart in the 3 days this time. I was surprised, as I was expecting them to go through even more syrup with the cold weather and not being able to fly and all. The hive seems OK, there were bees moving around under the hole in the inner cover that I could see. So I think they could get to the feeder even with the cold temps (highs of 30-35F, lows of 15-22F those three days).

    It has not been good weather for opening the hive up further, and it is a bit early to do so too; so I haven't done much else other than wonder why the bees suddenly reduced their syrup intake so much. I should mention that there has been snow on the ground since that last feeder jar replacement and cold weather, so no chance the bees were bringing in any nectar on their own during this time.

    Any thoughts on this? Any conditions this might indicate which would warrant opening up the hive sooner than normal?

    TIA
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    They will not touch sugar water that is under 50 degrees F. Replace it with 90 degree water and they will move it until it cools to around 50 to 55, then they will stop again.
     

  3. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    Thanks Iddee. I would have thought that being right over the cluster (over middle hole of inner cover), that the heat from the bees would have kept it warm enooug. But it seems not.
     
  4. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Bees only heat the inside of the cluster, although there would be some heat rising from the cluster it would not be enough to make a difference in the sugar feed temp.
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    If you use a spacer ring to give room for ziplock bag of syrup laying flat directly on top of the frames and under the cover the syrup will stay much warmer than in a jar standing up on top of the cover. This is the first time I have tried the baggies and they work super; no leaking except when you try to pick them up. Have to slide them onto a piece of tin or ply if you want to pull frames. Next ones I will put the slits up nearer the zipper instead of all down the bag and should be able to pick them up easier.
     
  6. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "I would have thought that being right over the cluster (over middle hole of inner cover), that the heat from the bees would have kept it warm enooug. But it seems not."

    no, it does not. what iddee and riverrat said.
    riverrat: "Bees only heat the inside of the cluster, although there would be some heat rising from the cluster it would not be enough to make a difference in the sugar feed temp."

    you have been getting some crazy weather, similiar to ours. the bees will cluster until the weather warms up enough for them to move or to take feed that is above them. this applies to anything that is placed above them, and they will not feed from this until weather warms enough for them to break the cluster to do so.

    when i put syrup on, 1 gallon pails, i will put a deep over the hive and pack it with insulation or hay, to slow any freezing of the syrup, it does help to a certain degree, with late spring cold temp fluctuations. but again, if the bees are clustered they cannot utilize any feed until temps permit them to move and do so.
     
  7. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    That explains why my newly hived swarm has stopped taking sugar water the past two days when the temps fell to 40 degrees at night and barely into the 50's for a high. Thanks for that info.
     
  8. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    So the replies leave me with a question. If the bees will cluster tightly below 50F or so, will they even take warm syrup at those temps? Sounds like the answer is no. And that warmed syrup is great if the temps are just under the flying temps but not too cold (say 45-50F). But if it is much colder than that the bees won't leave their cluster to go to the syrup, even if it is warm.

    Is that right? I am just trying to figure out when it is worth the disturbance of opening things up to put in warmed syrup.
     
  9. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    steve,
    when the bees cluster, they will not leave the cluster until the temps permit, so even if your syrup is warmed up, they will not leave the cluster to feed from it, or as i said earlier, anything placed above them in the way of feed. for example, for me, in my climate, i would not disturb a hive much under 50 degrees to add a warmed syrup container when my day temps aren't above 45 (so clustering bees) and nighttime temps are dipping in the 20's and thirties. what you could do, just a thought, i don't use quart jars, but maybe add a warm jar during the day when the temps are above 50 degrees.
     
  10. Steve777

    Steve777 New Member

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    Just wanted to follow up. Had a couple of "warm days" (in the 50'sF), and now it's back to cool temps and rain/snow again. So I went in and replaced the feeder jar with a warmed quart of syrup. The remaining 2/3rds of the old jar were gone, and the bees seems fairly active, even got challenged by one bee as I changed the jar out. So it does appear that the lack of taking feed was due to the temps before. Thanks for the advise.