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Author Topic: Should I be feeding my bees?  (Read 302 times)

Offline esmith

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Should I be feeding my bees?
« on: May 04, 2020, 10:07:44 pm »
Good morning all,

So I've found myself in a slightly unexpected position. I got my very first hive of bees shortly before COVID-19 did its thing. I had done a one day course, read the Australian Beekeeper's Manual cover to cover, and watched several hours of YouTube videos, but my hands-on experience is very limited. When I got my lovely new bees, it was with the promise that the person who provided them would be assisting me with the first few inspections and providing that guidance, but with lock downs in place that ended up not being an option.

I've done a couple of inspections best as I could myself unsupervised, and one of the things I have noticed is that they're still quite light on for honey. When they first arrived, their previous owner said that they would be able to fill all the empty frames before winter arrived. But in an 8 frame hive, there are still two and a half frames that they haven't even drawn out yet. Only one frame is really full of honey.

The weather in Melbourne has already started to cool quite a lot, and while the bees are still out and about most days, I'm worried that they won't get enough food to see them through winter. I'd be devastated if they all starved to death on my watch. I'm also mindful that it's getting harder and harder to find a warm enough day to do any inspections, so I can't easily tell if they're building their reserves fast enough.

When do I need to make the call to put some sugar syrup in for them? Should I let them keep doing their thing for the next three weeks of autumn and hope they get their reserves up, with hard bee candy as a backup? Or should I be getting proactive and making up a syrup batch for them now?

Thank you very much in advance for any recommendations you can offer, if only to help my peace of mind. :)

Online CoolBees

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 03:47:15 pm »
Esmith - welcome to Beemaster.

If I understand - you have a single 8-frame box hive that has 1 or 2 frames of honey? ... I don't know your climate/conditions, but Yes - I'd be feeding 2:1 sugar syrup until they had 2 out of 3 boxes filled.

I don't have much winter where I live - so these guidelines apply to my situation - not necessarily yours. In either case, they will need more food stores for winter than it sounds like they have.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Online iddee

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2020, 04:12:49 pm »
YES, feed, feed, feed. You need at least 5 Kilograms of food for each month of winter in your climate. Feed 2 parts sugar to 1 part water when the temp is above 13 C., solid sugar candy below 13 C.
"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 esmith

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 09:52:23 pm »
Thank you both! I'll get that up and running asap. :)

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 11:09:56 pm »
There are different ways of feeding. I would recommend you watching Ian Stephler  (A Canadian Beekeepers Blog) Youtube Channel.  Ian is a big time commercial beekeeper and has thousands of hives. He uses 2 gallon buckets filled with 2-1 sugar syrup in the fall, the bees take this very fast while filling their combs, and are good for the long winter months there. (He might have switched to corn syrup but do not quote me on that one), I may be confused with someone else. Let me add, as long as you ask a reasonable question, he somehow finds the time to answer. How he does this is beyond me. (finds time to answer). His family also runs cattle, and a regular large grain farm. Among other things including a wife and children that take his time. This man does it all. Amazing.

Offline KellyBeeFriendly

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2020, 09:22:16 pm »
Yes you should be feeding, although it?s getting cold up here in Victorian alps (we had snow last night) if you are in Melbourne suburbs you are likely quite a bit warmer. Suggest getting a hive mat vinyl or canvas (old Lino cast offs work well or thick painters canvas from Bunnings) to prevent condensation dripping on your bees. It?s also a handy thing to sit a baggie feeder on. Once your daytime temperature gets below 10c they won?t take the syrup they?ll be in cluster. So don?t stress. Switch to fondant or dry sugar over July/August. Make sure your hive is located in full sun and out of the wind. Plant some early annuals good for pollen ie. Poppies and the like and don?t mow your lawn if you see any cape weed. Alternatively source some pollen substitute for dry feeding from late August to help with build up if they need it. Good luck!
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2020, 11:43:22 pm »
Welcome to Beemaster.
Do as Iddee said. To much water vapor during cold weather is a major problem.
Jim Altmiller

Offline esmith

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2020, 02:50:51 am »
Thank you everyone. I've been feeding them regularly for the past two weeks. I'm not sure how to tell if it's helping, but I guess it won't be hurting? They're definitely still eating all the syrup.

Online iddee

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2020, 08:33:09 am »
Just lift the back of the hive an inch each time you go to it. You will soon learn to estimate how much storage they have.
"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 crispy

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Re: Should I be feeding my bees?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 10:05:20 pm »
Can i ask a dumb question , how do you make this solid suger candy . Ive seen pollen pattes made from feed bee but dont know what this solid candy is .

Online iddee

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"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*