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Author Topic: New apiary, bees are starving  (Read 439 times)

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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New apiary, bees are starving
« on: August 10, 2018, 04:56:42 am »
A year ago I moved my bees to what appears to be a nectar-goldmine; it's next to a forest, so there's a large amount of diverse plants and flowers. However, a bush fire did burn a decent amount of it four years ago. I've been told from a local that, it takes about four years for the flowers to grow back and bloom, so maybe more things will bloom this year.

The bees collected a decent amount of honey during the Spring. During the Summer, they seemed to be at a neutral level; they neither lost, or gained honey. I unfortunately didn't get to see how they were performing during Autumn/Fall. I checked up on them recently, as we're leaving Winter with a few weeks until Spring, and they're in a critical shape.

They're all at critically low levels of honey, and they all are quite low on bee population, honey and brood. One of the hives only had dead bees, and a weird white patch on a section of the comb in the hive: https://imgur.com/a/J2xzngh

One other hive seemed like it had no honey, or even brood available. I regrettably didn't look at it in detail to confirm whether there was any eggs, or even a queen; there was a smallish, decent enough size of bees in the hive.

Two more had almost no honey. Another two had maybe half a manley frame of capped honey in total. Another had a little over a manley frame of honey, and the biggest had a little over two manley frames of honey.

I gave the hive that had no brood or honey, and gave them a frame with some brood and another with honey. I moved some frames from the hives that had a little bit of honey, to the ones that had almost nothing, but there wasn't much to go around. I also made up two kilos of sugar water syrup, and I put them into some sandwich bags, placed on top of the hivemat(this sits on top of the frames, which the bees can access) and cut some slits into the sugar syrup.

I'm rather unsure how to proceed. How often will it take the bees to eat that syrup? The soonest I can return is four days, should I go check on the bees ASAP? How much sugar should I feed them? Should I add anything else to the syrup? I see some adding white vinegar. They had some pollen in the hives, but should I try to feed them some sort of protein as well? Should I add any dye to the hives, in case they end up getting a big flow of nectar and store the sugar water, so that I don't accidentally extract and harvest the sugar syrup at a later date? What's up with that white fluffy stuff on the comb in the dead hive?

Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2018, 10:18:53 am »
South:  feed, feed, feed, sugar syrup, 8-16 pounds of sugar to a gallon, 4 L of water, no vinegar, no dye.

Offline Hops Brewster

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2018, 10:41:54 am »
that weird white patch is mould or fungus.  common to deadouts, especially if they were wet inside.  Hives need adequate drainage and ventilation to prevent a wet environment that freezes the cluster.  Make certain all lid have no water leaks.
If your nighttime temps are above 0C, you can probably feed liquid syrup inside the hive, using a frame feeder or baggie feeder..  If your nights get below freezing, use dry sugar on a newspaper laid on the top bars inside a 3" shim.

If they need the feed immediately they will eat it immediately.


Winter is coming.

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Online sawdstmakr

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2018, 11:09:18 am »
In your situation, I would make a large sugar patty for each hive and put it on top of the top frames. This will last longer and keep them alive and not cause robbing. And they can use it in cold weather when the cluster moves up to the top.
Jim

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Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2018, 11:53:40 am »
I just looked at world temp map, Australia had high 60F lows43F for the continent.  That was yesterday?s temp.  I would point out, I just reflected what world temp map was showing, I do not know the accuracy of the map and I know nothing about Australia weather.


South, what is your weather like?  Is world temp map accurate?

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2018, 07:33:04 pm »
I checked the area, for the next week it's going to have a minimum temperature of 40F, and a maximum temperature of 60F. It won't be going under 0 C; in other words, it won't be going below the freezing point, this rarely happens in Australia.

So could have the bees froze to death due to it being cold and somewhat wet inside? Or is it possible that they actually starved? Could have the mold developed after they had already died?

One of the hives did have a fair amount of water on the lid. I've been having difficulties keeping water out of it.

Is a baggie feeder what I did, with using a sandwhich bag filled with sugar water with some slits?

Sounds like I didn't feed enough. I think I'll seek to get up there ASAP with a lot more sugar to feed.

Do any of you have a recipe for a sugar patty? I'm not familiar with what they are to be honest.

Offline Skeggley

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 08:49:41 pm »
Hiya SAB, I'm surprised you need to feed generally there's winter forage around. The colonys which are short of stores, did you rob them this year? Don't you have plants in flower around the site? How many boxes do you use?
I have friends in SA who are thinking they will get a winter harvest even!
I am not a fan of feeding bees, granted on occasions it is a necessity however it should only be done when it is a necessity.
Hopefully they'll make it thru to spring.

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2018, 09:43:00 pm »
I'm also surprised. Ive never done a winter harvest, but I've never had bees become so low on honey. I did do a honey extraction in spring 2017, but I also left more than a super full of honey on each hive.

There are many flowers around. Its next to a forest, there's many different trees and ground level flowers around.

The hives had between 1-4 supers on.

Online sawdstmakr

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2018, 08:25:11 am »
So could have the bees froze to death due to it being cold and somewhat wet inside? Or is it possible that they actually starved? If there are enough bees, they do not die from the cold.
If there was enough food, they can keep warm. A sure sign of starving is when thousands of bees are head first in the combs.

Could have the mold developed after they had already died? 
It usually develops after the bees are gone.

One of the hives did have a fair amount of water on the lid. I've been having difficulties keeping water out of it.
This is a real killer in the winter. Add insulation above the hive and this and tilting the hive a little forward will prevent it.

Is a baggie feeder what I did, with using a sandwhich bag filled with sugar water with some slits? 
If the syrup chilled and drilled on the cluster, it would kill the hive. Don?t feed syrup during the winter.

Sounds like I didn't feed enough. I think I'll seek to get up there ASAP with a lot more sugar to feed.
Just do not use syrup unless it will be warm.
Jim
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Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2018, 10:22:46 am »
Jim, I think Australia winters are like yours, Florida that is, upper region:  freeze is rare as stated.  But when in doubt, fondant is excellent for cold, or Mountain Camp method.

Offline ed/La.

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2018, 12:36:46 pm »
For your situation a 5 gallon feeder  would work good.  If you live far away put 2 out. I feed 300 ft from hives.  24 lbs sugar for 1 to 1 or 36 lbs sugar for 2 to 1.  I would  go with  the thicker syrup so they have less water to deal with. Is there any pollen coming in?  If not feed pollen substitute.  Next trip make sure they are queen righ. Combine any hive that is queen less with queen right hive. I  remove excess frames and condense weak hives. In the future consider screen bottom board and small screened vent up high. Cold is OK wet is not. You have to remove excess moisture.  Small entrance is option I like in well ventilated hive. Good luck

Online sawdstmakr

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2018, 11:56:17 pm »
Ed,
Open feeding is not allowed in Australia.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2018, 12:05:58 am »
Well I've bought 20 kilos of white sugar cane 28 shallow foam trays and sandwhich bags. Unless someone has a better plan, I'm going to mix a small amount of water in with sugar to make a sugar cake. I'm going to cover the outer bottom part of the sugar cake with this, and will place the sand which bag, filled with a 1:1 sugar to water syrup. I will puncture some holes into the sand which bag with a small nail.

The idea behind this is that if the water does seal out.of the bag, it'll be captured by the sugar cake. I want the sugar cake to be quite dry so that they can walk on it without drowning, ideally even if the sand which bag breaks. The water from the syrup, should help them turn the dry sugar cake into something that they can use.

I'll then place four of these trays on top of each hive mat, so above the frames inside the hive.

Is this possibly going over board? One concern that I have is the bees aren't strong enough to defend themselves in case an invader wants to rob the sugar. Should I put less sugar in there for this reason? I won't be able to visit the bees again for at least four more days, but I also want to use that time to check on another apiary so I'm hoping this would EB enough to keep them going for a week or so.

EDIT:

Follow up question. I'm wondering how many supers I should remove. Should I reduce all the hives to just a single super? Two of the strongest hives, have a manley sized brood chamber super on the bottom, with another manley sized brood chamber on top: should I leave the two strongest hives with two manleys, even though they're still quite weak, or should I reduce all the hives to a single super, and simply give them back the super in Spring when they've grown a little stronger?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 02:34:35 am by SouthAussieBeekeeper »

Online sawdstmakr

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2018, 10:40:31 am »
South,
The idea of putting sugar cakes in the hive is so that the bees can move up in the center of the hive and eat the sugar that is caked on top of the frames.
If you put it in a tray, the bees have to walk outside of the cluster. If they do they are chilled and cannot function. If they freeze, they die.
Use the trays to make the sugar cakes and then put just the sugar cakes on the top boards. Put an insulating layer above it.

Are your bees flying every day?
If not, robbing should not be a problem.

One of the nice things about sugar cake is that it usually does not cause robbing.
Jim
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Offline Skeggley

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2018, 11:10:51 am »
If you really need to feed you don't want any supers on, really they should have come off end of Autumn.
Keep the sugar out of the honey frames. 😉

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2018, 05:03:21 pm »
Jim,

I'm not sure what a top board is. My hives have hivemats on them. Are you suggesting to remove the hivemats, so that I can place the sugar cake directly on top of the frames?

Offline Brub58

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2018, 07:17:49 pm »
Ed,
Open feeding is not allowed in Australia.
Jim
Jim,
Open feeding syrup is allowed.  Open feeding honey is not allowed.

Nothing that is a potential source of AFB - honey, comb, propolis, old equipment - is allowed to be left exposed to bees.

Bruce.

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2018, 07:26:40 pm »
Jim,

I'm not sure what a top board is. My hives have hivemats on them. Are you suggesting to remove the hivemats, so that I can place the sugar cake directly on top of the frames?
Yes, the sugar cake goes on top of the frames. Some companies make a cover that they fill with sugar cake/fondant and allow it to dry. You then invert it with the sugar side down. You would add your insulation above it. You can also place a piece of newspaper on top of the frames, pour dry sugar on it, moisten the sugar and add a spacer and your insulation and cover.
Jim
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Online sawdstmakr

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2018, 07:27:33 pm »
Ed,
Open feeding is not allowed in Australia.
Jim
Jim,
Open feeding syrup is allowed.  Open feeding honey is not allowed.

Nothing that is a potential source of AFB - honey, comb, propolis, old equipment - is allowed to be left exposed to bees.

Bruce.
Thanks for correcting that.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeper

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Re: New apiary, bees are starving
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2018, 07:35:04 pm »
Would the sugar with water sprinkled on top be just as effective? Seems a lot easier at least. I do have some a kilo or two of ho ey that isn't fit for human consumption that I'd like to feed them. I also have some lemongrass essential oil.

I'm not sure what to use for insulation. Would I need that considering it doesn't get too.cold? Would just scruffled up.newspaper work? Is this being used because the bees.will be colder going up above?