when to start feeding liquid?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I thought my question was different enough from the previous post so here goes:

    When would you say it is OK to start feeding syrup, as opposed to other winter feeding methods (dry sugar, fondant, candy boards...)? I'm looking for more of a temperature range than a date on the calendar. It's been an unseasonably warm winter; however I still expect lows to dip below freezing for some time now. The real nectar flow starts around mid-April around here.

    My hives definitely still need supplemental feeding, and are getting it in the form of dry sugar now. I wouldn't mind switching to 1:1 if it's easier for them to store, but I'm not trying to stimulate brood rearing at this point. I also don't want to be making trips to refill every week if they suck it down.

    I recently went to a meeting just a little south of me, and was astounded to hear that everyone's been feeding 1:1 since mid-February. In my county's club, I'm sure dry feeding in some form is still the norm. The climate's really not that different, I suspect it just goes to show how much trends can vary from club to club.

    -Dan
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I don't know your area well but if it is still dipping below freezing I wouldn't be switching to 1 to 1 just yet. That is a lot of moisture they have to get rid of. Bees usually won't take syrup until it's around 50 F or higher (The fahrenheit # was just for you Rat ;) )
     

  3. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks Perry, I appreciate the "fahrenheit" too.

    Those were kind of my thoughts about feeding and moisture as well. I was surprised to hear a room full of people all saying they start feeding 1:1 on Valentine's Day every year. Maybe it's just nobody was disagreeing out loud (I guess I'm guilty of that too).

    -Dan
     
  4. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    As an experiment, I put some 1:1 (with a little HBH) out in a ziplock last Friday. The weather has been in the 50s, 60s and 70s and the bees have been flying and bringing in pollen. To date, only one bee has sniffed around on it, but none have had any of it.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Good for them. :cool:
     
  6. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Omie, I deeply regret that it is so difficult to convey sarcasm online.
     
  7. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    sorry, I don't want to be misunderstood- I am sometimes baffled by folks who seem to want to feed all the time whether their bees actually need it or not. Do they just like buying sugar? Me, I'm waiting for the willows and skunk cabbages.
     
  8. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    No, I gottcha Omie.

    Like I said, I think it just goes to show the group-think that can develop within a club. Oh well, I guess the lesson is to seek your info from more than one source. I worry a bit about the newbees there that jot down that bit of info ("start 1:1 on Valentine's day"), and take it as a rule. OK, now I really feel guilty for not speaking up....

    -Dan
     
  9. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    That's where the smilies can help a lot :twisted:
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip...
    Those were kind of my thoughts about feeding and moisture as well. I was surprised to hear a room full of people all saying they start feeding 1:1 on Valentine's Day every year.

    tecumseh:
    for here in Texas that would be Valentine's Day of last year and no I do not like buying massive quantities of sugar... nor cooking it up 10 gallons at a time... nor hauling it about and pouring it into hives. I also do not like dead bees.

    at one time (not that long ago) I could not have imagined Omie's warning... but having seen this good idea go way over the top, I now understand completely.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    And we have to remember that everything in beekeeping is very regional.
    In areas like the midwest where mono-culture farming leaves only one or two types of crops for hundreds of acres around, bees will have little natural forage at certain times. Here where I am it's small diverse farms with varied crops, lots of rolling fields with wildflowers, forests, roadside flowers, residential gardens and trees, wetlands. Our winters are long and cold, but once things begin blooming in the Spring there is plenty of wild forage for bees right up until the frosts of winter. I feel lucky about that and it gives me more leeway to be able to choose not to artificially feed.
     
  12. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Dan, It can be very intimidating when you/we are just starting out and go to these larger gatherings (be they beekeepers or whatever) about which we may know very little, and even just ask a question, never mind questioning something that seems peculiar or odd. Been there, done that.
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a classic Perry snip..
    never mind questioning something that seems peculiar or odd.

    tecumseh:
    like bee keepers as a group are NOT (???) somewhat peculiar and odd.... excluding myself from this crowd without a doubt. :confused:
     
  14. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    I have learned that, in my area, it is better to feed sugar bricks or fondant a bit longer than switch to liquid feed to early.

    Generally, I don't start feeding liquid feed until temps are reliably over 55F. It can still get pretty cold here at night even when it is that warm in the day. I also feed 2:1 initially, until the nights stay above freezing - the reason is because the thicker syrup is less likely to run out of the bucket (I use buckets over the inner cover to feed). I learned the hard way a couple of years ago that it doesn't matter how warm it is during the day - if the syrup leaks on the bees during a cold night, it can kill them fast.

    So, I feed solid feeds (bricks or fondant) longer than probably most.
     
  15. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    :thumbsup:

    Same here, Tundra beekeeping is on different schedule.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I really suspect Dan's original question hinges on two things that are connected...

    1) when do you wish to encourage extra brooding in a hive...

    and

    2) when is the risk of low temperature for extended periods of time somewhat past..

    in some places a date like Valentines Day might be a good general answer. there are local geographical consideration that WILL effect #2 above... so a 'good general answer' may only apply for some majority of folks, but not for everyone.

    as a side note... I have decided that feeding 1 to 1 or thinner syrup somewhat increase the activity of a hive if the cluster has full access to the syrup no matter what the temperature. so the method of feeding likely has some effect on this question also.
     
  17. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    Today is day 9 and the syrup hasn't been touched yet. The temps have been as high as 80F, and this morning it was 26F. Maybe once the temperatures stabalize some, it will change. I will keep everyone updated.
     
  18. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    That's just it, in my location (where I heard this Valentine's Day recommendation made):

    1) mid February is a good 2 months before the real nectar flow here. That struck me as a bit too early to try to bump population. Would about a month prior to flow be more appropriate? I honestly don't know, as I've never really gone out of my way to stimulate in late winter.

    2) Around here, February is most definitely still Winter in a normal year (as if normal years happen anymore). I'd still say in an average year, we could expect below- or near- freezing temperatures to sustain for several days in a row any time in Feb.

    Anyway, perhaps we're beating a dead horse, and have established that there are some sugar-happy beekeepers out there, who may or may not be wrongly influencing newbees at meetings.

    -Dan

    ps- as noted in another of my posts, I recently found a dead out with lots of uncapped nectar/syrup in the hive, and mold starting to form. I'm confident that feeding any liquid would have exacerbated any issues in a hive like that.
     
  19. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Aggressive management philosophies encourage feeding 1:1 syrup and pollen/protein patties to begin 40 to 42 days before the first nectar flow (so, about 2 months prior to the first nectar flow). The idea is that when the first flow begins, you already have a sizable population of field bees to take advantage of it.

    I don't have any problem with this strategy - but I think that it really works best for southern locations where the weather and temperature 2 months prior to the first flow are relatively mild.

    Two months before our first flow here in ND is 1 March. Last year we had sub-zero temperatures and a blizzard on Easter and then again the first week of May. Our weather/temps are too highly variable for me to risk trying that aggressive strategy (and I learned this because I tried it one year - I ended up with HUGE populations of bees - all dead). So, my spring strategy is to help them to keep going, slow and steady until the good weather is here to stay. Then I start worrying about building up populations.

    You will know your spring weather better than anyone, and so you can best determine if this is something you can try.
     
  20. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Sm, something seems strange there...to me. Your temperature range and bee activity sounds much like what I'm seeing down here in south central Alabama. I've got a little nuc in an 8-frame box that just emptied a quart jar of 1:1 in 2-3 days. I don't use HBH, though, just cane sugar syrup. I feed directly through the hole in the inner cover. I guess it's probably the close proximity of the syrup to the house bees or something, but they definitely will take it. ???

    Ed