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Author Topic: Winter foraging in Melbourne  (Read 998 times)

Offline CaptainNemo

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Winter foraging in Melbourne
« on: June 06, 2018, 09:27:52 pm »
Hi All,

First year beekeeper now heading into winter. I have a fairly simple question - I think.

I installed a nuc around December 2017 and the bees more or less maintained their stores up until now. They began to draw out a second deep but not much activity occurred.  It appeared in my new beekeeper eyes that there wasn't much flowering and it was extremely dry (Eltham, VIC) for several months so towards the middle of Autumn I started feeding them.

I currently have the hive down to  1 brood chamber, perhaps 5-6 frames of bees. approx 3 - 4 capped frames. I've noticed a lot of activity in the past few weeks - perhaps more than summer! The fore casted temperatures continue to be in the mid teens and night times dip to about 5- 10 degrees c. I see a ratio of about 1 bee in 10 bringing in pollen.

Anyhow, my question is will the bees be able to increase their stores in this period?? 

Apologies for the highly convoluted and roundabout structure of the question :)


Offline Brub58

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 11:17:39 pm »
I doubt they?ll put on any stores over the next 8 weeks.  Last year mine (in Mitcham) just maintained their stores and I was pretty happy with that.  With the dry summer mine have been using stores since the end of January, so if you?ve got 4 frames of capped honey you?ve done well.

Offline CaptainNemo

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 11:46:23 pm »
Thanks for your response. It puts my mind at ease somewhat. I've never looked up at trees and checked out weather forecasts so much in my life!

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 12:11:58 am »
Thanks for your response. It puts my mind at ease somewhat. I've never looked up at trees and checked out weather forecasts so much in my life!
On days it gets above 16/18 in sun check around 11AM and note pollen going in.
Where that is happening you neither feed them nor worry as they will be controlling
their own sustenance/survival.
I'd agree with the previous poster on the stores comment as long as those 3 to 4
capped frames are not lollywater.
For an area of forage to prove sustainable for a colony over time it is only
emergency feeding that should be happening - like post bushfire/floods.
Anything else just creates a falsity which often proves fatal to bees anyway.

Bill

Offline beepro

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2018, 01:28:02 am »
If you are concern about having enough food then give them the sugar bricks over this
winter.   At least they will be sustain for awhile until Spring time again.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2018, 03:23:07 am »
@beepro

There is more than a single report from Victoria this winter
of bees flying and foraging, some prolificly.
That being the case are you able to layout how feeding
sugar in any form is an advantage above what bees are doing?

Bill

Offline CaptainNemo

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 08:06:30 am »
Thanks all for the advice. It?s good to see that my experience is roughly in line with others in the area. One thing I?ve definitely learnt is there are many different approaches!

I think I?ll opt to feed fondant only if the hive feels light during the course of winter. 

Offline CaptainNemo

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2018, 09:24:46 pm »
@elItalia I'm just wondering what is the "exact" rationale behind pollen indicating correct regulation? I very much agree with the idea of not providing a false state of affairs. It is the same reason for which I don't fertilise my garden - compost and roaming chooks seems to be sufficient.



Thanks for your response. It puts my mind at ease somewhat. I've never looked up at trees and checked out weather forecasts so much in my life!
On days it gets above 16/18 in sun check around 11AM and note pollen going in.
Where that is happening you neither feed them nor worry as they will be controlling
their own sustenance/survival.
I'd agree with the previous poster on the stores comment as long as those 3 to 4
capped frames are not lollywater.
For an area of forage to prove sustainable for a colony over time it is only
emergency feeding that should be happening - like post bushfire/floods.
Anything else just creates a falsity which often proves fatal to bees anyway.

Bill

Offline beepro

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2018, 01:16:51 am »
Thanks for the question.   Without regard to the food stored this winter, using the sugar bricks as an
emergency feed will not hinder the hive at all.   For one, they will use up these bricks before digging into their
honey reserves.   To them honey is their last life line and should only be use as the last option.   

So having the sugar bricks on, much like the fondant, will only keep them going this winter.  Putting these bricks on
will not stop them from foraging what they need for this winter.   Of course, having honey is better than syrup or sugar bricks.  But as a
last minute emergency food source, I would not ignore this option.    This is how I'm able to sustain my hives over the winter here.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2018, 04:10:51 am »
@elItalia I'm just wondering what is the "exact" rationale behind pollen indicating correct regulation? I very much agree with the idea of not providing a false state of affairs. It is the same reason for which I don't fertilise my garden - compost and roaming chooks seems to be sufficient.

Sorry Cap'n, I missed your update post.
I am not always checking this forum, my blue. ;-(

The "rationale" is very basic/simple.
Pollen going in does not indicate it is available as forage
it does however in even very small amounts (duration during any day)
tell you there is brood being fed, no matter the airtemp.

That is an important signal for knowing the colony is maintaining
the growth/replication the bees deem sufficient... as in sustainable.
Like, there may be flora abundant but rocky times ahead so bees
will cutback on the queen laying and so cutback on pollen to increase
only their honey stores.
These subtleties are masked in feeding supplements.

Bill

[edit for mongrel schpel scheckah]
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 04:32:10 am by eltalia »

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2018, 04:26:36 am »
@beepro

I reckon I am struggling with your  - and others thinking likewise - use or understanding
of "emergency".
For mine there is no "emergency" when bees have stores they are ignoring over
sugar brick/fondant/syrup.
Puzzling, is that thinking.

Also your post is somewhat ambiguous in first you say they take fondant without
digging into stores to then later say the bees will forage over taking sugar.
I am very sure all of this is human conjecture, well installed in beekeeping.
However I am not looking to begin BeeWar (Ver. mmmxii.01) so I just ask a
simple question.
Why is it foraging bees will always take to a spoonful of sugarwater when you
catch them foraging (as done in beelining) when surrounded by acres of pollen
and nectar?

Bill

Offline beepro

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2018, 03:30:10 am »
"Anyhow, my question is will the bees be able to increase their stores in this period??
....temperatures continue to be in the mid teens and night times dip to about 5- 10 degrees c."

Bill, you are putting words that I've never said anything about using fondant.  I think you have misinterpreted my findings about foraging and taking sugar.  During the cold of winter they rather stay in than go to forage when you put these sugar bricks or fondant on the top bars.   All I mentioned was using the sugar bricks for winter emergency feeding.  During the cold of winter they rather stay in than go to forage when you put these sugar bricks or fondant on the top bars.  And they will not touch their honey reserves until the sugar bricks are fully consumed in the winter time.   It has nothing to do with bee-lining which I know nothing about.  So I cannot answer your simple question.  Go ahead and enlighten us.

Going back to the OP's question to give him an answer.  With winter temp. that low hardly you will see any nectar coming in unless the day time temp. is in the 70s and above.  Again, I don't know your bee environment but there might be nectar and pollen producing plants available.   If there isn't enough nectar to collect judging from the bees activity now, then you have to supplement feed either with fondant or the sugar bricks. 

Sugar bricks are equivalent to the fondant minus the cooking work involved.  It is secure winter food in case you are worrying about having enough feed this winter.  In such a cool temp. I don't think they have enough time to cure the incoming nectar if there is any.   There is a post about making sugar bricks here if you do a search.  It is not that hard to make at a fraction of the time compare to making fondant.  I still have a suit case of these bricks, 120 lbs. that I use for winter feeding and for making new mating nucs when rearing queens.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2018, 10:28:22 am »
It has nothing to do with bee-lining which I know nothing about.  So I cannot answer your simple question.  Go ahead and enlighten us.
... see attached.
The remainder I let slide in deference to generating
even more confusion.

Bill
[ You are not allowed to view attachments ]


Offline CaptainNemo

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2018, 08:41:51 pm »
Thanks for the responses. As I've definitely found over the past year, many different approaches and strong opinions about the right way.

Having looked at the hive recently, there has still been quite a lot of activity through the clear days but not a great deal of pollen coming in anymore. Would it be fair to assume that if it is not pollen, and there is activity(approx 10 orderly bees per 2 or 3 seconds) that it is incoming nectar?  On that note, will a bee consume nectar as a food source prior to consuming capped honey? So many questions!!! :D

I'm not going to stress too much about whats right and just roll with the idea now of making sure the hive is heavy. Which, again, is another one of those subjective terms that I am over analysing. The joys of beekeeping!






"Anyhow, my question is will the bees be able to increase their stores in this period??
....temperatures continue to be in the mid teens and night times dip to about 5- 10 degrees c."

Bill, you are putting words that I've never said anything about using fondant.  I think you have misinterpreted my findings about foraging and taking sugar.  During the cold of winter they rather stay in than go to forage when you put these sugar bricks or fondant on the top bars.   All I mentioned was using the sugar bricks for winter emergency feeding.  During the cold of winter they rather stay in than go to forage when you put these sugar bricks or fondant on the top bars.  And they will not touch their honey reserves until the sugar bricks are fully consumed in the winter time.   It has nothing to do with bee-lining which I know nothing about.  So I cannot answer your simple question.  Go ahead and enlighten us.

Going back to the OP's question to give him an answer.  With winter temp. that low hardly you will see any nectar coming in unless the day time temp. is in the 70s and above.  Again, I don't know your bee environment but there might be nectar and pollen producing plants available.   If there isn't enough nectar to collect judging from the bees activity now, then you have to supplement feed either with fondant or the sugar bricks. 

Sugar bricks are equivalent to the fondant minus the cooking work involved.  It is secure winter food in case you are worrying about having enough feed this winter.  In such a cool temp. I don't think they have enough time to cure the incoming nectar if there is any.   There is a post about making sugar bricks here if you do a search.  It is not that hard to make at a fraction of the time compare to making fondant.  I still have a suit case of these bricks, 120 lbs. that I use for winter feeding and for making new mating nucs when rearing queens.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2018, 11:12:42 pm »

"Having looked at the hive recently, there has still been quite a lot of activity through the clear
days but not a great deal of pollen coming in anymore. Would it be fair to assume that if it is not
pollen, and there is activity(approx 10 orderly bees per 2 or 3 seconds) that it is incoming nectar? 
On that note, will a bee consume nectar as a food source prior to consuming capped honey?
So many questions!!! :D"

Might well be just plain ole water Cap'n, depending on humidty levels.
Remember a colony core is at 25Celcius (roughly) so water in keeping
respiration heat at bay is paramount.
I would need a time lapse IR camera to confirm what has been found
in studies which say bees leave capped till last as a preference .
However I have yet to observe any changes in comb stores to deny
that finding.

Bill

Offline CaptainNemo

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2018, 08:57:50 pm »
Funny you mention that... one of the good things about having engineering resources at my disposal .... attached :)

I plan to monitor the hive and brood size/distribution with a thermal camera


Offline eltalia

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Re: Winter foraging in Melbourne
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2018, 03:45:54 am »
Well there ya go Cap'n.. on the brink of new discoveries! :-)

Bill