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Author Topic: Feeding bees for winter  (Read 778 times)

Offline StefanBohm

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Feeding bees for winter
« on: May 03, 2021, 07:33:49 am »
Hi
I have two small colonies with just 1 brood box each, about 5 frames of bees and no honey. They didn't stock up on nectar in summer as it was a very poor season here around my backyard in WA I think this year.
I have about 3 to 4 months of winter, they still forage and it never goes below zero degrees.
I'm trying to figure out how much I have to feed with the less possible disruptions.

I'm reasoning that in a healthy hive you leave 2-3 frames of honey, about 8Kg, correct? So if I feed 2kg of dissolved sugar in 1L water for about 4 times, and then leave them alone, would that be a safe bet?
Thanks.
Stefan B?hm

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 08:16:10 am »
Stefan,
Welcome to Beemaster.
Feeding during winter is different than doing summer and fall.
If the temperatures are below 50 F. You do not want to bee feeding them sugar water. It causes too much condensation which if it fall into the bees is deadly.
During the winter you want to feed them either fondant or dry cake sugar. The easiest way is to pit newspaper on top of the frames and pour sugar on top of it. Spray a little water on it to make it a cake.
Jim Altmiller

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 10:29:27 am »
Thanks for that Jim. Yes although I never had to feed in winter before I was aware of feeding dry sugar. We?re still in autumn though and just realised the thread title is misleading, and was hoping I can get the feeding done now, before winter, so I won?t open the hives in the cold months.

In any case, how much weight in dry sugar roughly I should be aiming at feeding?

Offline Beelab

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2021, 06:23:34 am »
Hi Stefan. We had the same situation last year, no rains ever, fires raging.
I never harvested from most of my hives. Just some.
Some colonies were going gangbusters and started bearding just before winter.
I did a couple of splits, one didn?t make it. I know with extra food they would have made it.

I usually do baggie feeding. You can check that often.

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2021, 08:52:57 am »
I didn't harvest a drop of honey here. One of the hives got honey in each frame, but not a single frame is fully capped and am leaving all the honey for them. Other hives are either low, or have none. Been an amateur beekeeper for 6 or 7 years now and this is by far my worst year.

Offline Beelab

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2021, 08:50:47 pm »
WA copped it this year. We still have a good flow on where I am on the east coast.  The rains in summer made all the difference. The flooded gums are full of flowers and will keep giving for a while yet.

Last year, I put the sugar syrup baggies under the roof, on top of the crown board or the lino mat. That way you can quickly check in winter without the bees getting cold.
It works well if you just have a few hives.

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2021, 09:39:51 pm »
I really need to go and have a chat at my local apiary store and enquire what others are doing around here. I thought it was just my particular location that copped it. My bees rely on mostly weeds in winter and spring, and native red gums in summer. The red gums flowered as usual but must have been low on nectar production. Some say if it rains in summer it will wash the nectar away but it always rains a bit in summer and I don?t think that was the issue.

I have a wooden tray on top with a round plastic feeder that takes 1.7L of liquid feed. One of the hives gobbled that up in less than 12 hours and had to make sure it was not cracked and leaking.

Offline Beelab

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2021, 01:08:43 am »
I think Skeggley is in WA, not sure if near you. Maybe he will chip in with some experience.

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2021, 08:10:23 am »
I was on a local WA beekeepers Facebook group with some 2000+ members but it was full of nasty and unfriendly people so I mostly get my updates from my local apiary supplies shop. Not a great beekeeping community here in Perth unfortunately.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2021, 09:39:56 am »
Stefan,
You can ask as many questions as want here on BeeMaster. We have a lot of very experienced beekeepers and a lot of new beekeepers who are wanting to know the answers to the questions you ask. We love to answer questions no matter how basic. We had to start out and ask questions in order to learn beekeeping.
Jim Altmiller

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2021, 09:48:32 am »
Stefan,
You can ask as many questions as want here on BeeMaster. We have a lot of very experienced beekeepers and a lot of new beekeepers who are wanting to know the answers to the questions you ask. We love to answer questions no matter how basic. We had to start out and ask questions in order to learn beekeeping.
Jim Altmiller

X2 and welcome, (Im still asking by the way) lol
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline crispy

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2021, 06:27:32 pm »
Hi all i managed to harvest just 2 frames last week was hoping for 4 but decided to only take two , there was an article in the paper the other week that said honey production is down by 49% this year and what with fires ect i can understand that , my bees have been busy but not able to supply a lot of honey .

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2021, 07:20:53 pm »
Hi all i managed to harvest just 2 frames last week was hoping for 4 but decided to only take two , there was an article in the paper the other week that said honey production is down by 49% this year and what with fires ect i can understand that , my bees have been busy but not able to supply a lot of honey .

Well two is better than none. Savor every drop. 😊
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2021, 07:10:26 am »
honey production is down by 49% this year and what with fires ect i can understand that

Hi crispy, no fires here though. Not within my bees' foraging grounds anyway. The trees flowered like any other year and didn't notice anything different. Was about to blame my queens. Did the article say where in Australia had 49% less production? I doubt that's across the country.

One guy I know around here was a bit guarded and didn't reveal much how his bees did this year.

Offline crispy

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2021, 07:57:31 am »
Hi guys i didnt read the article my mother did and told me so it may have been south oz only ,just a quick question bit of topic but i gave a bloke some honey on wednesday and he rekons after eating it some bees attacked him .He claims that it comes out through the poures in your skin and the bees smell it ,i was a bit shocked wen he told me but any truth in it .
Ben i got 250ml out of the whole lot after giving it away to friends and family after chewing their ears off for the last 12 months  about bees hahaha

Offline Beelab

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2021, 08:58:33 am »
Hi Stefan. It will always be this way, up and down in different parts of the country, indeed, the world.
I had about 30kg from 20 hives last year, worst I ever had, so I concentrated on keeping my colonies happy. I only lost one over winter. A late split I failed to feed.
Then, spring, they all booted up so quickly, I had trouble to prevent and catch all swarms.
Had to sell splits to keep under my limit of 20.
Then I thought, the 500kg I extracted a month ago were going to be it this season, but the supers are all full again, against all odds.
You can never tell with bees and seasons.
Crispy, he might have had a bit of honey on his beard?

Offline crispy

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2021, 11:23:51 am »
Wow beelab thats amazing 500 kg , on facebook marketplace everyone is selling honey ranging from 12per kg to 20 dollars , i dont know why but although the foragers are working steadily my honey super hasnt filled up in fact one frame is still empty . With the new queen i have noticed a drastic change in the hive temperment i was actually leaning over the brood super and the bees were as calm as anything they are now fun to work .
 As we draw further into winter i will start to feed them suger syrup and pollen patties im happy just to have healthy bees the people i have given honey to said it is really good so that makes me happy ill probably give more away than sell knowing me .

Offline StefanBohm

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2021, 08:15:24 pm »
Hi beelab do you feed your own honey to the bees? I have a couple kilos left over from last year and I?m thinking feeding it back to them before it starts to crystallise, but it?s from different colonies. Not sure that is advisable or not. Never had any diseases I?m aware of.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2021, 08:35:21 pm »
Crispy,
The bees did not attack your friend because he ate honey. There was probably some other reason.
Jim Altmiller

Offline crispy

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2021, 06:48:28 am »
Hi jim ill tell him that when i see him i thought it was a bit far fetched but i dont know thats why i had to ask . give a bloke free honey then he complains the bees are chasin him maybe there jealous of my honey hahaha.

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2021, 07:36:27 am »
I blame it on the bee movie. 😊

Offline Pazuzu

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2021, 09:10:02 pm »
two small colonies with just 1 brood box each, about 5 frames of bees and no honey.

Are these nucs or late season splits? I?ll avoid splitting late in the season so they?ll be strong enough by winter. I?ll feed them until they are strong and if you have honey you can spare from other hives that?s better than sugar. It wasn?t too bad for me here.

What's their pollen stores like?

I was on a local WA beekeepers Facebook group with some 2000+ members but it was full of nasty and unfriendly people. Not a great beekeeping community here in Perth unfortunately.

Lol, so true.  :cool: :grin: Applies to Facebook in general.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2021, 09:22:34 pm by Pazuzu »

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2021, 09:27:29 pm »
Yep poor season across the board here from all accounts.
Beekeeping here in SW Aus, like most places, is site specific and you can?t beat local experience. Suburb local that is.
Generally over winter there is still forage available and enough fine days for the bees to get out and about so feeding isn?t usually necessary.
Small colony?s ability to maintain temperatures and defend against pests is an issue in our winter especially in large boxes so if possibly reduce the colony to a nuc box to give the bees better survival opportunity and keep an eye on the weight by hefting the box often and feed if necessary.
For the record I?ll finish up with about 15kg from 2 out of 4 colony?s this season before removing the supers for winter compared with 20+kg per hive last season. Not much when you compare it with others around the world and commercially not viable but still satisfying for a stationary back yard beekeeper. (And the best honey in the world to boot. ;))

Offline crispy

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2021, 04:44:36 am »
Your right there skeggley no one has complained about the honey as of yet only good reviews , the bees are very quiet over the last few days as it has been raining and cold but tommorow i expect the bees will be going bonkas bananas as the wheather is supposed to be a lot warmer .
I am going to leave the honey in the super i know some say take it all away and others say leave it there so here is my thinking if this was a hive in a tree the honey would stay with the bees early in the new season i will take all the honey and extract it all then put the stickies in for the 6 months of good weather ,i dont really know what im doing but this is my take on it .

Offline Pazuzu

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2021, 08:11:23 am »
(And the best honey in the world to boot. ;))

LOL, I'm sure it is.
And so is mine.
And the beekeeper's down the road,
and the one across the ditch. 
:cheesy:

I'm yet to come across a beekeeper that doesn't think so  :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2021, 10:26:18 am »
Oh it?s not just me, apparently it?s fact.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/wa-jarrah-marri-honey-gives-manuka-a-run-for-its-money/9211874?nw=0
But shhhhh don?t tell everyone.
 :cool:

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2021, 10:29:30 am »
Oh it?s not just me, apparently it?s fact.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/wa-jarrah-marri-honey-gives-manuka-a-run-for-its-money/9211874?nw=0
But shhhhh don?t tell everyone.
 :cool:

Wow! Congratulations Skaggley, looks like you in your area have hit the jackpot!
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2021, 08:16:29 am »
I?m betting that there are a lot more honeys out there that are very good medicinal honey.
Jim Altmiller

Offline Pazuzu

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2021, 09:13:15 am »
Oh it?s not just me, apparently it?s fact.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/wa-jarrah-marri-honey-gives-manuka-a-run-for-its-money/9211874?nw=0
But shhhhh don?t tell everyone.
 :cool:

Well that?s typically aussie LOL, and an indictment on the local beekeeping industry isn?t it? Not many know about those qualities outside the beekeeping circles. Look how cleverly the kiwis market their manuka all over the world. Still  it?s basically smart marketing of a statistical difference between one honey and another. All honey has anti microbial qualities, and some has a bit more than others. Doesn?t mean a teaspoon of jarrah honey with your oats is going to cure anything more than any other honey. Or does it? Aussie beekeepers just complain about chinese imports, and manuka trademarks, instead of being proactive by differentiating their honey and market it aggressively.

When I started selling mine, since I?m in the middle of eucalypt forsests I used to quote that study to my clients. Most scoffed and just assumed it was my marketing dribble because they never heard of these benefits. So now I just claim it is local honey and charge them a fortune for it. Mind you I am a minuscule hobbyist, not a commercial one so I can afford to turn my nose as I don?t have truckloads to offload.

But yeah, my honey is the best in the world and so is yours :) and the kiwis?, and the turks?, and spaniards? and pakistanis? and the yanks? etc. Many regions in the world produce really good honey actually. I agree with Jim above.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 09:31:14 am by Pazuzu »

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Feeding bees for winter
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2021, 06:38:25 pm »
Typically Aussie? Yeah well there?s a good reason for that. :smile:
Agree with most of the above posts and medicinal honey is usually best for external applications so is there any real relevance for us hobbyists? Yes it?s marketing, how else do you explain a honey that was so undesirable it was cursed and fed to horses suddenly become so desirable. Yes there are likely other more medicinal honeys, with so few capable testing labs and so many different sources buuut we can only work off the facts....
I also find it curious that here dark honeys are prized yet other countries the lighter the better.
In no way was I inferring that all other honeys were not good. Local, unfiltered raw honey from the beek down the road is always going to be the best on your bowl of oats.
Well, until you try mine of course.  :cheesy: