Mild winter lite hives:Emergency feeding

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I'm still kind of a newbeek, so please nobody listen to what I say.  But I put an empty deep super above the inner cover in the fall and on warm days I've been checking/adding sugar syrup (mixed as thick as I can get it) with a Boardman feeder inside the empty deep.  They seem to be taking it down and doing fine so far.  But then I read feeding sugar syrup in winter can cause dysentery!?  I hope I didn't give the girls the poops!  But like I said they seem to be doing quite well this winter.

By contrast, I lost 5 hives last winter, all apparently to starvation.  I just remember last winter thinking that if I had an empty super as a feeding chamber up top, I might have been able to get emergency food to them and they might not have starved.  So I made sure to put the deep up top this fall.  I'm actually wondering if anyone has ever taken this to the next level insulated their feeding chamber?  In other words, cut pieces of styrofoam insulation and line the inside of the feeding chamber with it.  You could even replace the wooden inner cover with a replacement made of styrofoam insulation.  This might give them a nice warm place to hang out and have a mid winter snack.  Anyone ever tried this?

I put a piece of blue foam board EPS on top of the inner cover.  The foam had a hole cut to match the cover.  Then on top of that went a medium I'd cut in half.  Then on top of that medium went another piece of foam, then the outer cover.  Then I put foam around the whole hive (including this top box) and held it on by wrapping it in roof felt.  I know, I know, totally overboard and nuts...but I think on those uber cold nights, even though there weren't that many this year, the girls didn't have to work as hard to keep warm.  I'll do it all again next year.  The upper box is now where I have a big chunk of fondant which is being eaten rapidly on some hives, only picked at on others.  Another reason I did this was even though the notch in the inner cover was providing some ventilation, I wanted that inner cover hole to have a nice outlet for moist air to go, and if it then condensed on the foam that was right under the top cover, very little would drip back on the bees, it'd just drip back down into that top area.  One more detail...I did all this in early November and we still had flying days.  I didn't want the bees doing much in that top box, so I used a little piece of hardware cloth to cover the inner cover hole, and put it between the inner cover and the foam.  That kept the bees out of the top area until I was ready for them to be there a couple weeks ago, but allowed that moist air to get up there all winter.

Thanks for posting this.  We had a really mild winter and a very bad summer.  Im sure this all played a roll in me losing over half of my bee hives.  I wondered why they were eating so much.  NEver thought about a mild winter playing a roll.

With nice weather this weekend in the NE it might be a good time to bump this.

little john:
I ran overhead (inverted jar feeder) syrup for much longer than usual going into winter, as it was going down so well into an August swarm. When the uptake rate slowed down I swopped over to overhead 'dry' (well, damp) sugar in the same jars - that's also going down well.

As I see it - there's no need to make, or buy extra kit. With pierced lids, run syrup. Without the lids, the jars can be used for sugar, candy, fondant or pollen patties. (Even mix 'n' match)  1 to 4 jars, depending on rate of uptake:

Top right hole has a 15mm dia vent installed during a period of very warm weather - now bunged-up as it's turned VERY cold.



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