Time to stop feeding?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Skyhigh, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    I know that while the rest of you (northerners) are getting ready for winter, this may sound like an untimely question, but... My two swarms/hives have been downing the sugar syrup for four weeks now. As of three days ago, they just stopped. There's maybe an inch gone from both quart sized feeders in all that time (one took a quart a day the other slightly less prior to this). One hive is probably all filled out with comb now, the other not as much. So, should I just stop? Remove the jars and replace the feeder lid with a regular lid? I've read various things about feeding swarms and packages, 4 weeks sounds short, but not overly so. ("Don't feed!" "Feed 8 weeks." "Feed one month." "Feed 25 lbs of sugar." "Feed only till comb is drawn." :dontknow: )
     
  2. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Bees will stop taking syrup as temps get down in the 50's F. Is it getting that cool now where you are?
    A couple years ago my bees abruptly stopped taking syrup inside the hive once temps hits the low 50's at night, it was quite noticeable that they suddenly stopped. (I don't feed in autumn now, so not an issue for me anymore)
     

  3. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    If you are concerned that they are still light and need more feed then maybe you just need to switch to a more concentrated syrup, or just go with granulated sugar or fondant.
     
  4. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Well...It seems nice and cool to me, but I'm not sure if lows in the upper mid 70s (and afternoon temps still anywhere from mid 80s to low 90s) count. I'm way south. However, what isn't typical is that we'd had two days of constant rain. Usually, when it rains here, it's for a very short time (minutes to usually less than an hour.) But wouldn't they take more syrup while stuck inside? I'm not so much concerned they're light, but that they had enough to give them the start they needed. (And how long before I have to worry about the syrup going bad?)

    When starting with packages or swarms, how long do you all normally feed? Most of the info I read tends to think the beekeeper has some experience to assist them in "knowing". If the wind stops blowing so hard, I guess I'll take a look and see if they're okay. (Fun for me anyway.) Not that it'll do more than tell me if they are there, doing their stuff (have brood and eggs and stores) and if there are beetles. Still, need to build up that "knowing."
     
  5. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Bees need as much food as brood to survive Winter. Most recommendations are 60 pounds of honey/nectar for Southern states. You can encourage bees to take syrup with Honey-B-Healthy, nicotine or caffeine. Bees have been shown to be addicted to the latter two just as humans. I started leaving the coffee filter in with used grounds when I heat water for syrup last year.
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I open feed on my back porch. They were taking it regularly until the asters bloomed. They aren't touching it now. They will work flowers when available, sugar water at other times.
    If you can lift the back of the hive with one hand, continue feeding 2:1 mix. 1:1 mix is for startup and spring feeding.
     
  7. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    I'm not certain I'm ready to add the caffeine! :eek: And, certainly not nicotine. I've been using 1:1, maybe I should up it to 2:1. Odd, in that I was thinking it was time to stop entirely.

    In many ways I think it would be so much easier to be in a northern area. More information seems available. (Besides, raising one's own queens sounds like great fun.)

    Thanks!
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Have you tried to lift it? You may still need to feed it.

    2:1 is for feeding the hive and storing.

    1:1 is to entice the queen to lay more eggs.

    You need to know if either or both is needed.
     
  9. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    I'll give it a lift tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be as windy and rainy. I walked by the hive a few minutes ago and they're all on their afternoon orientation flight and not interested in my coming too near. (I was buzzed.)
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    As of three days ago, they just stopped.

    tecumseh:
    perhaps there is something coming in the front door that appeals to them more? I would guess this + the available storage in the hive may now be limited.

    how long you should feed a starter hives is totally dependent on your location and the flows you experience. I typically tell folks to feed a starter hive at least until you have a (1 full) box of bees.
     
  11. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    :shock: This comes back to the, "What do you mean by a "full box of bees"" question from a different thread. The hive looks like it has lots of bees to me, but I'm thinking "lots" is a subjective term. Until I have more experience, every time I look in there I see "lots". I feel better able to determine comb. The box is full of comb now. I'll check tomorrow to see if it's also filled comb. That I feel pretty confident in determining. But numbers of bees...there are "lots". :roll:

    I'll try to find out if there is something new blooming. The royal and queen palms have been for the past couple weeks and the bees are all over them, but whether there is enough nectar or not, I have no clue. (I'm kind of hoping they found something, of course.)

    Thank you everyone for all the advice and info! (As I compile it all in my brain and hope the processes don't freeze up before something is determined.)
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    To determine how many bees. Smoke the hive lightly and remove the cover. Look down at the spaces between the frames.There re 11 such spaces in a 10 frame box. If 10 or 11 spaces are full of bees, the box is full of bees. If 5 of the spaces have few or no bees, then the box has only 5 frames of bees. If all spaces have bees in half the space, IE: the front half of each, the box is half full of bees. Again, 5 frames of bees. The measurement will always be approximate.
     
  13. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Thank you, Iddee! That sounds understandable/doable. :D I'm going to put that on my list of "what to look for when inspecting". I figure there are generalized things that one should learn to automatically take note of in order to determine health/strength/etc. of a hive. This is much more concrete than "lots...more or less".

    Now I'm off to find out, under ideal circumstances, how long it would take a hive, starting with a package/swarm, to reach "full box" status.

    :wave:
     
  14. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    I can hook my bees on caffeine? greeeeaat, I wont leave the house if my coffee maker wont work last thing I need is the girls feeling the same way :lol:
     
  15. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    :goodpost:
    Me too, Zoo
    :thumbsup:
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    skyhigh writes:
    I know that while the rest of you (northerners)

    tecumseh:
    you are killin' us southern boys with that one sky high.

    another skyhigh snip...
    I figure there are generalized things that one should learn to automatically take note of in order to determine health/strength/etc. of a hive.

    tecumseh:
    well actually this observation is a most significant things (not of minor importance) that when you line up like aged hives (one next to the other at a specific location) tells you quite a lot in almost an instant. population density of bees in a hive at a particular point in the season provides a lot of information to us old hands. most time this instant flash of information tell me to "close 'er up and move on" and some times it tells me to poke about and see what is wrong. actually at this point in my life as a bee keeper I have a pretty good notion of what is wrong before I remove one frame.

    I suspect for most new bee keepers also developing a a sense of the proper 'heft' of a hive is extremely important. this is a sense that needs to be practiced also.
     
  17. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    :eek: Sorry, Tec! I wasn't reeeallllyyy inferring that only the northerners were preparing for winter. (Give me a moment and I'll come up with something witty to distract you... :lol: Not enough caffeine yet.)

    This comparison thing, however, seems really obvious with my two hives, though what it means... :confused: I have the two hives, started very closely together, and one is nearly twice as full as the other. Two days ago I went in to check the lesser one (Eaves hive). 7 of the 11 spaces filled with bees. 6 frames filled out and filled with stores and/or brood. Good brood pattern (really solid, it was cool to see that). I saw eggs (but really only on one frame, the rest had capped brood and there didn't look to be space for eggs on them). I had removed the feeder jar last week (this is the hive that would barely take in half a quart jar of 1:1 at the best of times, and was down to 1 jar in 1 week, so I figured they didn't really use it.) So, to see what would happen, I reversed frames 2-3 and 8-9 (1 and 10 were pretty much empty foundation still, 2 and 9 with some drawn out comb on one side only) and added a quart of syrup. The next day the jar was totally empty. I replaced it and this morning it's totally empty again. I'm hoping they're finally taking off as far are building up and such. This is the hive that is so gentle, they let my dog sniff the entrance without stinging him, so I am reluctant to requeen it unless absolutely necessary. Otoh, I'm starting to think that, rather than leave this as one of my two main hives, it might be worthwhile to do a split (once it's filled completely) and start a nuc colony with this queen. I could throw in a drone frame so that it will mainly be putting mellow drones into the air and I could use it to build up the other hives rather than use it as one of my "real" (hopefully honey producing) hives.

    As for lifting the boxes and getting a feel for weight, er, there is heavy, a little too heavy, and really heavy. 8 frame mediums are beginning to sound like a good idea! ;)
     
  18. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    if your raising hives to make other hives through splitting then you will be somewhat limiting your honey harvest as a large field force will be split between 2 colonies, and sharing duties other then foraging. While it is many opinions that more hives mean more honey ( assuming that is what your doing this for ), then it makes sense to keep your workforce intact and provide adequite storage space for nectar, and brood rearing..
     
  19. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    The next day the jar was totally empty

    tecumseh:
    and likely you have some more drawn comb.

    there is nothing wrong with splitting (for one it is an excellent swarm control method) but just starting out excessive splitting should be discouraged at least until a hive is fully established with a good population dynamic (all ages represented). it is quite possible to split one thinking you will have two and end up with 0.

    if your goal is honey and not numbers then barry post above is right on target.
     
  20. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    Weeeellllll... I want honey, of course. But I also want to learn how to do all sorts of things with the bees. Like Omie... :D I am willing to not maximize honey production in order to learn. Making splits is one of my goals. (Actually, I have interested at least three other people in my homeschool group to take the bee class next summer, and I thought how fun it would be to have nucs ready for them at the end, so now I have a reason for making the splits, not just a desire to do them.) I think I'll leave my Flower hive to make lots of honey ('cause that's what I decided so it will be, right? :beg:) and use the Eaves hive to make splits and such. That's my plan as of Friday, October 28th. :write: