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Author Topic: How viable is never feeding?  (Read 4699 times)

Offline Culley

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How viable is never feeding?
« on: January 10, 2015, 11:58:09 pm »
At the moment I've got 3 hive and 3 nucs at home, and 2 hives at another location. I've never fed them, and it's never been a problem. But I'm interested in making nucs, increasing the number of hives quite a bit, and down the track maybe even making some money from the hives. Can I do this without feeding?

Is there anyone keeping a reasonable amount of beehives who never feeds? I just leave enough honey for them over the winter, and give nucs a frame of honey from a stronger hive if they need it. Is this a viable way to continue? I'm thinking it is, but I'm interested in people's thoughts. It's a warm area and they rear some brood and collect a little bit of pollen and nectar all winter here.

Feeding means robbing, from what I have read. It means extra equipment, extra work, extra expenses. In a good warm area does it really pay off? Should I learn how to feed them sugar just in case or can I just carry on with modest increase and generous honey left for wintering? We have good pollen and I've never even thought of feeding pollen patties or supplements or anything.

The only times I'm thinking feeding could be useful are during queen rearing, or for making smaller nucs (make 2 frame (deep) nucs instead of 5 frame nucs, and feed them up?)

Online kathyp

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2015, 12:08:31 am »
Quote
Feeding means robbing, from what I have read. It means extra equipment, extra work, extra expenses. In a good warm area does it really pay off? Should I learn how to feed them sugar just in case or can I just carry on with modest increase and generous honey left for wintering? We have good pollen and I've never even thought of feeding pollen patties or supplements or anything.

Robbing happens when other critters want what your hive has.  that can happen with or without feeding.  Nothing is needed but some jars with holes in the top.  not much extra work.  pop one jar off and another on.  I mix sugar with hot tap water, so there's not much work to that.

pollen patties are not usually needed.  people do it to boost production, but by the time you want to boost production, there's usually enough around naturally.

as for not feeding at all, that very much depends on where you are and it can be different in very close locations.  the only way to really know is to try it.  you might over saturate your own area, or maybe not.
you will have to really stay on top of it and take into account weather, etc.
?Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.?


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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2015, 08:36:47 am »
Curley,
I keep between 10 to 20 hives. I only fed my bees the first year but I do not strip off all of the honey. I make sure they keep enough for dearth periods, mid summer, and the winter.
We are in the middle of our winter and my bees, in my observation hive, have been bringing in lots of maple nectar and pollen and building brood. This is not normal for most areas nor even here but this is my 5th year and I have not had problems with the bees wintering over. BYW, our cold snaps will probably come soon. Usually does.
One thing that I do do, in the fall, is move frames of honey and sometimes bees to the weaker hives.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline OldMech

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2015, 10:40:07 am »
In a good situation you shouldnt "need" to feed. Not every situation is good.  Every year is different, the rainfall and flow changes. Having four or five hives your bees should be able to find enough forage, provided there is a flow.
   EVERY year I deal with new beekeepers who took one of the "NATURAL" beekeeping classes that advocate NOT FEEDING EVER!!!  They claim sugar is bad for your bees, it is not natural, and if the bees die, then all is as nature intended..    Bull$#!&
   It seems to me that DYING is way worse for your bees than sugar or sugar syrup.

   When starting a nuc or a hive, putting 1/1 syrup on them gives them a jump start. They have the resources they NEED immediately available. Feeding with an entrance feeder is more likely to start robbing than if you feed from the top of the hive. Put an entrance robbing screen on, or at the least lean a board across the entrance to stop robbers from zipping in past the guard bees.
  You can read more here;

http://outyard.weebly.com/feeding.html

   What you choose to do is obviously up to you, and is dependent on your situation.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Online Michael Bush

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2015, 04:53:53 pm »
>At the moment I've got 3 hive and 3 nucs at home, and 2 hives at another location. I've never fed them, and it's never been a problem. But I'm interested in making nucs, increasing the number of hives quite a bit, and down the track maybe even making some money from the hives. Can I do this without feeding?

Yes.  Just give the nucs enough capped honey.

>Is there anyone keeping a reasonable amount of beehives who never feeds?

Never?  Probably not.  Seldom?  Sure.

>I just leave enough honey for them over the winter, and give nucs a frame of honey from a stronger hive if they need it.

That's what I do.

>Is this a viable way to continue?

Yes.  Until a fall flow fails and they are going into winter without enough stores.

>I'm thinking it is, but I'm interested in people's thoughts. It's a warm area and they rear some brood and collect a little bit of pollen and nectar all winter here.

I've never lived in such a place...

>Feeding means robbing, from what I have read.

Well, I'd say feeding is the leading cause of robbing but that does not mean you can't do it while avoiding robbing.  But you need to approach it from the point of view of preventing robbing.  Reduce entrances on all the hives and feed all the hives if you really need to feed.  Or just feed the strong ones and then steal capped stores for the weak hives.

>It means extra equipment, extra work, extra expenses. In a good warm area does it really pay off?

I convert solid bottoms to feeders for the occasion when I have to feed.  It's not the best feeder but it's free and I usually don't feed.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#BottomBoardFeeder

> Should I learn how to feed them sugar just in case or can I just carry on with modest increase and generous honey left for wintering? We have good pollen and I've never even thought of feeding pollen patties or supplements or anything.

Sooner or later you will need to feed if you keep bees.  Maybe it will only be once every few years, but it beats letting them starve.

>The only times I'm thinking feeding could be useful are during queen rearing, or for making smaller nucs (make 2 frame (deep) nucs instead of 5 frame nucs, and feed them up?)

If there is nectar coming in there is no reason to feed them.  If you did a split and now there is no nectar coming in you may need to feed them to get them built up for winter.  As far as queen rearing, again, you don't need to feed if there is nectar coming in.  But in a dearth it's difficult to get them to build cells and feed them well.  Frankly it's not the best time to rear queens anyway in a dearth...

My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
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Offline Culley

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2015, 08:04:09 pm »
   EVERY year I deal with new beekeepers who took one of the "NATURAL" beekeeping classes that advocate NOT FEEDING EVER!!!  They claim sugar is bad for your bees, it is not natural, and if the bees die, then all is as nature intended..    Bull$#!&

Haha, that's not me. I learned beekeeping off dad and I think he used to feed them once but when I was growing up we were usually too busy doing other stuff on the farm and didn't feed for years, and the bees were doing great (untill SHB turned up, but that's another story).

I tried putting some dry sugar on the inner cover of a nuc last autumn as an experiment and the nuc just ignored it and kept building up nicely over the winter.

Thanks for the replies everyone.  :smile:

Online Michael Bush

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2015, 09:40:43 am »
>...and if the bees die, then all is as nature intended..

The two problems with that philosophy are that:
1) it's often not the fault of the bees because we (the beekeepers) took their stores.
2) it's often not the fault of the bees because nature threw them a curve with a totally failed fall flow and most of them will starve without our help. (and maybe if we hadn't harvested so much last year they would still have a bit more to work with).

Bees hoard nectar/honey to get through hard times which is why we usually get to steal from them without them all starving.  It is what gets them through hard times and those times usually don't happen.  But sometimes they need what they have hoarded...
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
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Offline OldMech

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2015, 10:17:59 pm »
I concur wholeheartedly!
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline nietssemaj

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2015, 01:53:21 pm »
I always have more honey than I know what to do with. So if I have to feed I will feed them back honey that was taken if they need it.

Offline iddee

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2015, 05:41:58 pm »
All natural and never feeding is great for the package sellers. Maybe they are the ones putting on the course, while feeding their bees so they can harvest more packages for the suckers.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

*Shel Silverstein*

Offline Maggiesdad

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 11:13:35 pm »
Tha's funny!   :cheesy:

Offline Lone

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2015, 11:36:35 pm »
Hello Culley,

I only fed syrup my first year, but that was more to do with poor queens and basically murphy's law beehives.  There was also a dearth in the bush which lasted about 3 years.  Since then I've never had to feed.  You shouldn't need to worry about winter in Queensland which is probably the same as summer in Texas.* If you are in the city then there will be flowers out all the time.  I also don't bother about leaving much honey in the hive at any time of the year.  I think it's more important to reduce space till they've built up enough to protect it, and introduce frames of brood if needed, as you are doing.  I've got 17 hives now since the swarm last night, half in town and half in the bush.


*I met someone from Texas the other day.  I commented that our weather was probably pretty similar.  He laughed and said Texas is nowhere near as hot as this!


Lone




Offline amun-ra

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 01:47:11 am »
lone where ya been girl
meeting this weekend ???

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Offline Lone

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2015, 08:15:12 am »
Sorry, Mick, the Slave Driver has kept me on the ball and chain.  I'm not sure about this week again.  If I don't get there, would you please put in a proposal for a meeting here around aug/sep?  Naturally there will be a couple of awful movies at the drive in on Saturday before the meeting. Or you can have a Magic Lantern movie night here like we did tonight.  The slides are about 100 years old so it's more of a blur, but we'll cut the ticket price. Anyway, it's my best chance of making it!  I've been busy here and everything broke down at once.  I still haven't put in a report following the native bee workshop...

Honey is pouring out our ears (think it's the wax in them).  We extracted a couple of weeks ago and now the bloodwood has started to come out.

Back to the topic (blame Mick).  No, Queensland must be the best place on earth for beekeeping as most of the time you can get away without ever feeding.  Just don't tell anyone.

Lone


Offline richh1224

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2015, 10:15:44 pm »
I am treatment free and I do not plan to fed..... sugar. I kept almost all the honey I harvested last fall (about 5 gallons) for feed this year (if needed). I left about 70 lbs on each hive so hopefully they will not need any. I know it is not treated and exactly what the girls want. I put it all in mason jars, when I need it I will just pop a few holes in the lid.

Offline Joe D

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2015, 11:33:14 pm »
I try to leave more than enough for my bees.  Year before last, when it came time to do the first extracting, they had some but not much.  So I didn't take any, in July when we extract our second time, it was the same.  Didn't pull any honey that year, now I am just a hobbist, but they had plenty.  Last year, I am running 5 hives, I pulled honey off of three hives in May and got 10 gallons, didn't take anymore from any hives. 
There has been a couple of years I would get to wandering if they had enough honey left and would give each hive up to a gallon of sugar syrup, until it got warm enough to check their stores.  I do sometimes give a little before flow to help promote build up of the colony if they need building for flow.


Joe

Offline Culley

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2015, 11:58:11 pm »
I am treatment free and I do not plan to fed..... sugar. I kept almost all the honey I harvested last fall (about 5 gallons) for feed this year (if needed). I left about 70 lbs on each hive so hopefully they will not need any. I know it is not treated and exactly what the girls want. I put it all in mason jars, when I need it I will just pop a few holes in the lid.

Wow. Sounds like extra work. I've never fed extracted honey back. If I'm not sure I just leave it on the hive.

Offline nietssemaj

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2015, 12:04:21 am »
Wow. Sounds like extra work. I've never fed extracted honey back. If I'm not sure I just leave it on the hive.

Can't do that here. Small Hive beetles will slime the hive. Any comb that isn't covered by bee's has to be removed.

Offline CBEE

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2015, 11:59:42 am »
Well,
I found out the hard way that unless you live in the garden of Eden you will eventually have to feed or get out the check book to pay your package supplier

Offline jayj200

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Re: How viable is never feeding?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2015, 08:59:32 pm »
we didnt feed this year