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To feed or combine or to trust?

 
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:27 pm    Post subject: To feed or combine or to trust? Reply with quote

I started in late May with a 6 frame nuc which was a split from a swarm last year and a very small cast swarm. We now have 4 laying queens. 3 of the colonies are sweet tempered and one is very tetchy!

The 3 sweet tempered colonies are small, They have perhaps 10-14 combs but not full size (the end combs are small).

I have been reading about how in some cases late swarms or nucs will overwinter without any assistance (feeding). I've also been reading about "feeding for winter". Their is also the option of combining colonies.

As this is my first year I am finding it hard to evaluate what I should expect to see. I took a check on all colonies today. There is not much honey, although the tops of brood frames have capped honey. They are bringing in lots of pollen.The wasps are very strong this year, the bees so far are holding them off.

These frames near the end of the brood nest are smaller than others but it still doesn't look like much brood to me.
Any ideas welcome!
Kim

Here are a couple of photos from 2 of the hives...

This colony began as a swarm at the end of June





The 2 photos below are from a colony that swarmed on July 8th and took at least 4 weeks to come back into lay. Now it looks like more swarm/supercedure cells on the 1st photo.



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Adam Rose
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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
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Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the flow like at the moment ? In Manchester, it's massive. Lots of Himalayan Balsam and other "weeds" that I don't know the name of. If you have the same, I would wait before deciding. You may find that in a few weeks time the brood area has shrunk and there is loads of honey.
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think we have Himalayan Balsam but the Rosebay Willowherb still has something left, I have lots of established Asters and a plot of buckwheat.... and yes lots of weeds! so there is plenty .... BUT this is Ireland, really quite similar to the UK, you can find that when the weather turns you get one rainy day after another! Our bees have been really lucky with the weather this summer so far.

I'd like to be able to trust but I am feeling that if they would benefit from 1:1 syrup to build a little more comb/brood, then perhaps this is something I should do now rather than wait until it's too late and then take our chances over winter. Perhaps it's getting too late for that anyway? While there was lots of comb building early on there has been very little expansion in the last few weeks and I am wondering if what they have done is enough.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

If they have at least 10 combs, even if they are not all full size, they can easily manage to overwinter on that (I can see that they are dark bees and will no doubt be frugal and hardy). They will have switched their work from comb building to brood rearing now that the nest is big enough for them to survive. The brood starting to be reared now will be your winter bees and once they are capped and start hatching, then they will start to backfill the broodnest with honey. I would wait until the middle of next month and top them up with 2:1 syrup if they are light on stores then. I would imagine there will probably be an ivy flow in your area to come after that, but if you want to play it safe, then it's best not to rely on it.
Like Adam I'm really lucky to have masses of Himalayan balsam and rosebay willow herb.

I prefer to respect the integrity of the individual colony and therefore I avoid combining unless absolutely essential. I would personally not consider combining a colony if it had 8 or more combs with a mixture of brood and stores.

That is my opinion based on my experience, but I'm sure others will have different views.

Don't know what your bees are playing at with the queen cells but I'm sure they have a plan. Are there still drones? Some of my hives have started evicting but not on a mass scale and some still have drones hatching, so it wouldn't be a problem here if they were superseding but your area may be different. I wouldn't interfere though. They will know what they are doing much better than you or I.

Regards

Barbara
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara,

Yes there will be ivy, and in the spring snow drops, crocus.... There is always something in flower here although not always the weather for flying!

Quote:
I prefer to respect the integrity of the individual colony and therefore I avoid combining unless absolutely essential. I would personally not consider combining a colony if it had 8 or more combs with a mixture of brood and stores.


I really appreciate and respect your view. I am glad to hear this response too as I see each colony as an individual with its own history and personality and I am loathe to intentionally dissemble one.


Quote:
Don't know what your bees are playing at with the queen cells but I'm sure they have a plan. Are there still drones?


I thought I had laying workers when I opened the hive! (It was only a fleeting thought!) This was the tetchy - crazy cross hive. I look at the first few combs only, trying to learn something without disturbing the whole colony.



It's great to get feed back, I am so happy with the bees. One of the hives has all its combs in the shape of a sphere, It is so beautiful. Then every now and again I read about what bees "need" to survive the winter and I second guess myself....

Kim
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just transferred the mother hive into another TBH fitted with a deep floor, during the transfer I saw no larvae or eggs. I didn't look at every frame as a couple of times I moved 2 together but I am fairly sure that there is only sealed brood there and a lot of that has hatched. Should I be worried? It seems early to stop laying already but I don't know? They did not have much honey either.

This hive took so long to come back into lay after swarming and it's as if they are still out to mystify me!
If I hadn't transferred them I would have little concern. They had a frame or 2 of pollen, here is one photo I took... They have made a hole through the centre. There are a lot of wasps about but I think they are defending themselves OK.
It is the same hive as the 3 previous photos on this thread. The supercedure cell on previous photo looked today as if it is just an old one.

Any feed back appreciated!
Kim


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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
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Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Mid September I decided to give my small colonies a feed. I thought a lot about whether I should or not and read a lot too.

I decided that the swarms had been small and a little late, end of June and July. I had also moved them into new hives and created the work for them of re-propolising another new home. They were working hard fending off wasps. I decided to give a feed to compensate for all the extra stresses which I had caused them. I gave them 2lbs of sugar for 2 nights. We buy a 25kg bag of organic sugar once a year for preserves and it does not feel sustainable to be giving more of this to the bees. The wasps are not so bad now, the weather has been really good, The bees are so busy on the Aster and not touching the Buckwheat (and I know they know it's there as they are still foraging the Borage which is near by).

I have this very strong instinct that came the 2nd night I went to feed the bees. It is OK to trust and it will be OK if they don't make it.

I had previously had this feeling that If I don't feed the bees and they die then it reflects badly upon natural beekeeping.... Now my feeling is that I must follow my heart and listen to the bees. There are 4 colonies, if just one makes it, that will be the best one selected to go forward with. If none make it? I have lots of comb for bait hives and way more understanding to begin with next year.

Making a decision on trust and letting go of the fear (fear of loss, fear of judgement) feels very right. This could be viewed as irresponsible! and if I do lose them and do not learn from that it would be.

I hope this makes sense.

I actually meant to ask "how do you judge whether or not you need to feed your bees?" I am still interested in what others do and why and am open to suggestions.

Kim
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kim

I've been meaning to come back to this post and give you feedback and I've read it through a few times but I'm having difficulty following what is happening in each hive. Especially as you have posted a selection of photos of combs from different hives. It's a bit like someone flicking though a book and letting you read a couple of pages here and a page there and it's difficult to pick up the storyline from that. Perhaps naming or numbering the colonies would also be helpful.

Info something like:-
Hive 1. Parent colony from 5 frame nuc installed May 2013. 13 combs, 8 full size, 3 mostly capped honey, 5-6 nectar/honey, 2-3 mixed brood/nectar/honey, 2 empty
..... would be really helpful

Until you get used to what is normal for your area and your bees, it is very hard to judge though I'm afraid and best to err on side of caution.

My gut feeling is that if bees don't make it on their own after a season such as this, then they are unlikely to ever make it. That said, the more I see of other peoples colonies, the more I realise how fortunate I am to have an abundance of balsam and ivy on the doorstep at this time of year to set my bees up for winter. However, it also makes me realise that I need to be more careful about the advice I give, as others' locations are not so abundant.

An inspection of a friend's extremely active young colony recently brought this home to me.
Externally, they appeared to be absolutely thriving. Massive numbers of bees foraging.... probably three times more activity than my strongest hive and a very high percentage of them bringing in pollen. I was therefore totally shocked to open up this hive and find practically no honey at all! For some reason, they are putting all their effort into raising massive amounts of brood instead of gathering stores for winter. These are a cast from a feral colony and therefore you would expect them to be well attuned to British conditions. Without feeding, I have no doubt this colony would not survive the winter .....they are living hand to mouth at the moment! For some reason, they appear to be out of rhythm with the seasons.

Anyway, my point is that, whilst I admire your recent epiphany about letting them live or die on their own merits, I do also think that we have a duty of care once we have hived a swarm. As you may know, I'm not a fan of artificial feeding, but I am also not keen to see inexperienced people lose their bees to starvation, particularly young colonies, as their first year is when they are most vulnerable to this.

What I'm getting at is that I would be a bit happier knowing that your colonies have a bit more stores than your photos show.....

Regards

Barbara
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara , Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I have 2 mother colonies and 2 swarm colonies. They are all relatively small. I have not opened them since the photos on this thread were taken on August 22nd except for the main mother colony which I looked at on Sept 3rd when I transferred them into a TBH with a deep floor. I have observation windows on all the hives and I am relying on these now for my information. I did not open because of the wasps and because I did not want to disturb them from their work of getting ready for winter and mostly because they are propolis happy bees and I don't want to break their seals at this stage. Since I first asked about feeding in August the weather has continued to be very good. I believe the forage here is excellent as long as they have the weather to fly. The hay field has clover in flower,I planted buckwheat although they are not on it, the Asters and Sedum are prolific and covered in bees, Ivy is more than abundant. We have been 15 years here planting for wildlife and bees.

I entirely agree that we have a duty of care and it would be very irresponsible to allow them to die from starvation due to inexperience.

I am glad you have told me that my post sounded like I am willing to let them live or die on their own merits because that does sound irresponsible!

I don't really know how to express the gut feeling I got when I was with the bees. It was very strong, very clear.

To add information to this instinct, From the observation windows the combs are not obviously bursting with honey but they are swollen and none appear shrunken or empty.

I have been using the search function on this forum and reading old posts about feeding for winter. I gather that the smaller the colony the less stores they will need. So if they fill the combs they have one must hope that is sufficient. I am prepared to watch closely and feed if necessary although I understand that syrup is not suitable once the weather turns colder.

I am sure the hives have more honey than the photos show, The 3 small colonies have had 4 lbs of sugar syrup each and good forage in the last 6 weeks and the best summer in many years for their start.

Perhaps I will offer another feed!

There are a lot of factors to consider.


Kim
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kim

I think you may have read the tone of my comment incorrectly. I've just reread it and can understand why! (All I can say was it was early hours and I obviously wasn't operating at my diplomatic best!) I did not at all intend to be critical of your comment about that instinctive feeling you had.... quite the opposite.... I think gut feeling is really important in beekeeping and I would encourage you to go with it and not doubt it as a result of what I have said.

I was merely offering some feedback on the info and photos you supplied as requested and was concerned that my initial post had not tackled the issue of stores fully.

I never used to worry about my bees until I started reading this forum.... now it seems I worry about everyone elses!

Perhaps my concern stems from having recently inspected a few hives belonging to other people and found that they were surprisingly light on stores, which was a shock, as I assumed everyone elses would be chocka like mine, after such a good summer.

I agree about not breaking the propolis seals now and it is good to hear that you have had good weather and forage since your original post. I didn't mean to suggest that you open the hives again and catalogue the combs, but was just offering an example of the type of information that is useful to assess their situation going into winter. You are right that less bees will consume less stores and you have dark bees so that is also an advantage. I think the weather is set to stay mild for at least another week too, so that is another positive and as you can see more stores through the window now, then it all sounds good. Sorry to cast doubt on your instinct, I was just going off the information I could see in your post which suggested your hives might be light too, but it all sounds well now!

Sincerest best wishes

Barbara
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mannanin
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Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a lot of excellent guidance from Barbara for you to consider. I always tend to agree with about 99% of what Barbara says so forgive me for picking up on that other 1%. I’m pretty sure Barbara only feeds as a last resort or in an emergency situation when she feels she has to. However, if feeding is done in order to save a weak or failing colony on the grounds that it’s your responsibility because you hived that swarm and you now have a duty of care, then I think we stray into bee ownership territory. Whilst I agree that if you take a swarm and put it in a hive of your choosing, then yes, it could be argued you now have some responsibility. To feel that their very survival is now in your hands and to feel guilty should they perish through failing to provide sufficient winter stores by their own labour, is I think, over personalising it. By all means ensure that the hive you put them in is weatherproof, generally sound and not likely to fall apart during winter. Now that I would say, is your responsibility.

Perhaps I tend to over simplify as I see this no differently to putting up a bird box in the back yard. The birds may choose to use it or not, they are free to come and go, they may succumb to the cats, magpies whatever, they may live, they may die but I don’t feel I have a duty of care to feed them, treat for parasites, etc. If the bird box was insecure and fell off the wall killing all inside it, then yes, I have failed in my duty of care.

Please don’t take it all too seriously, I am not spoiling for a fight, just trying to put the argument for a more hands off, leave it alone, approach and the issue of sugar feeding has become a bit of a thing for me.

Barbara, I know it’s been said many times before but it’s worth saying again. Thank you for all your posts. It always amazes me how much time and effort you put in to your thoughtful replies. I always enjoy reading of your experiences and I am always learning that little bit more from you.

It would seem appropriate to finish with one of my favourite quotes from the great Michael Bush’s website:

“When you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention.”

The How- To- Do- It Book of Beekeeping. Richard Taylor.
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Che Guebuddha
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Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

B kind wrote:


I have this very strong instinct that came the 2nd night I went to feed the bees. It is OK to trust and it will be OK if they don't make it.

... Now my feeling is that I must follow my heart and listen to the bees. There are 4 colonies, if just one makes it, that will be the best one selected to go forward with. If none make it? I have lots of comb for bait hives and way more understanding to begin with next year.

Making a decision on trust and letting go of the fear (fear of loss, fear of judgement) feels very right. This could be viewed as irresponsible! and if I do lose them and do not learn from that it would be.

I hope this makes sense.

I actually meant to ask "how do you judge whether or not you need to feed your bees?" I am still interested in what others do and why and am open to suggestions.

Kim


Hi Kim,
this makes sense to alot. I think the same way, but that said without Barbara (and others) last year "forcing me" to feed my bees with sugar those two colonies of mine would not have survived the long winter. I must say that last year was one of the worst years in Swedish beekeeping in the last 25 years. So much rain I have never experienced.

My colonies were already starving in the September-October. I fed 15 kg of sugar to each and they came out of this last long and cold and damp winter without treatment very strong. Now they are a great survivor stock.

Treatment-free beekeeping based on Live and Let Die (Bond Method) is what resonates well with me and I will be going with my gut feeling since I only become a miserable bastardo if I go against it Smile I feel its important we all find our own way of keeping bees, both method and hive type.

Hence me fiddling now with a new hive design inspired by the very same questions you now are asking;
1. How do I know bees have enough stores?
2. How do I know how much honey to take so bees still have enough?
2. Can they survive if they are a small colony?
3. Does a colony need be big to survive?
4. etc ...

What I came up with is a short Top Bar Hive body which will NOT be managed by me "spacing" the top bars to enhance the brood nest (which is swarm prevention method).
Since we humans and bees aren't the same and yet we beeks are trying to get some honey I wanted to create two separate spaces within the hive clearly defining bee space and human space.

You can see my idea on my blog;
http://cheguebeeapiary.blogspot.se/search/label/bee-friendly%20super%20top%20bar%20hive

This year I fed way too much sugar syrup. I thought to feed just so they can top up the empty space a bit but ended up feeding 88 kg to 6 colonies since they kept taking it in.
This fake "honey flow" can only tricksy bees into raising more brood for the winter and yet we all know about small colonies overwintering fine on less stores.

My local bee inspector overwinters small splits on only 2 combs. Im not saying this is to be the norm but just consider less bees need less stores. More moths need more food.
So if bees can overwinter as a smaller colony on less stores that is what Im to respect and not fool them into what is not true (fake honey flow induced by sugar syrup).

Hence me creating this new bee-friendly super top bar hive. One beek in Sweden tested such hive for tow years and it worked fine for him but he stopped with it because of some comb collapse. He is a conventional beek and handles comb in a bit more rough manner maybe I dunno.

Of course bigger colony with lots of stores has a better chance of survival. Many have witnessed this. Still I cant ignore the fact that smaller colonies still make it through.

For this to work I must stop messing with their part of the hive so they at all times know and feel that 40-50 liters space which Apis mellifera prefers according to Prof. Seeley.

Me spacing and preventing from swarming etc only puts the colony out of balance. How would we feel if someone is all the time rearranging our ribs Wink

What ever bees decide to place into the separate space in the super above is bonus for me. They might as well just decide to propolise those slits I gave them to go up which are placed before the first comb and after the last comb.

Most beeks will say that bees need 20 kg of stores to survive but this is only true for the manipulated colonies of supered conventional hives where we create huge body space for the bees to fill it. The bigger the hive (managed so they cant swarm) will create a huge work force. All these extra mouths must be fed. Hence 20 kg stores needed.

Unmanaged colonies are smaller and hence need less food.
I will from now on focus on natural swarm's preference to find a 40 litres cavity. That is their space, unmanaged, unspaced, separated from the super above which they can easily ignore if there is no Excess Honey.

What you could do is feed 2 colonies and dont feed the other two and see how they fare. This way you have both listened to your own gut feeling and to what other beeks suggest (to feed).

Without first hand experience you will always live in a doubt and this year was too good for the bees not to test this.

Its your call at the end. May your ladies be happy, free from suffering, may no harm come to them and may they flourish next year.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mannanin I would agree with you entirely. I was apprehensive about using the "Duty of Care" phrase and the reason I did was that I was thinking of a specific example which I have mentioned here on another thread in regard to Lizbee's cast swarm. Her hives are located in an old greenhouse. It would appear that the increased temperature has stimulated them to produce brood instead of prepare for winter and they would now starve if not fed. This is a particularly extreme example of how hiving a swarm has potentially negatively affected it's survival, but it makes you think that there may be other, more subtle factors which also come into play.
My views on artificial feeding are quite strong and well known, but then, so far I have not had a swarm from my own hives that has needed feeding.... even late cast swarms last summer! The only one I fed was one I collected from elsewhere and brought back to my apiary.....perhaps a change of location by a few miles is enough to throw them off balance, I don't know, but my gut instinct said it needed help, so I fed it.

Because I am aware that quite a few people on this forum respect my views and opinions, I feel that I have a responsibility to them and their bees to get the balance right between what I believe in and experience with my own bees and what may be happening with theirs.... and that these can be two different situations.... as I found out with Liz's bees. They looked really strong and very active and industrious and they have great forage in the area and it has been a wonderful summer. They are dark bees of feral descent and looking at the hive entrance I thought "WOW! They are thriving.They will be fine." Then we looked inside and found that the nursery is full to overflowing and the cupboards are bare. Well, I definitely got that wrong! Nothing amiss with the bees themselves I think, just confused by the conditions they have been put in.

Things like that make me challenge my own views and therefore I feel it's important to go back to people I have given advice to and make sure I have given the right advice.... based on my reviewed opinion. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone reading it, but it concerns me that I can be a bit dogmatic sometimes, which is not good.

Anyway, I'm going to stop wittering on now because Kim's bees obviously don't need me worrying over them, as they sound like they are doing fine and I think her gut instinct is right and I certainly didn't mean to suggest that she was being irresponsible.

I freely admit that I have lost more colonies by my own hand than I have through nature, so I would totally agree with Michael Bush's quote. And it grieves you a lot more to know that they died through your incompetence, ignorance or interference, than just naturally, I can tell you that!

Regards

Barbara
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really appreciate you all taking the time to clarify what there is no definite answer to!

Barbara I read your post earlier today about Liz's bees and I can see where you were coming from. I am also aware that advice or suggestions can be misinterpreted and there are so many variables to consider. I will be taking your tale of caution into consideration and am very appreciative that you voiced your concern.

Che, I also spaced the brood nest this year, I followed suggestions in Les Crowders very good book. I felt it was too much interference and am very taken with the idea of a skep /Perone hive made of rushes and cow dung which are free and abundant. I will be interested to follow the progress of your bee-friendly super top bar hive.
I think just feeding 2 colonies is a very good idea.

Mannanin. I am glad you shared your thoughts on duty of care. It makes sense to me. I feel I have given sufficient care. The main stream approach to the question whether or not to feed them is more about how much I want to ensure their survival and less thought about how it may unbalance things if I feed them when they don't need it.

The ready and relatively cheap availability of sugar makes it so easy to feed for insurance sake but even organic sugar has a cost to the environment and the bees health..... well I could go on but I would be preaching to the converted!

This has given me lots of food for thought, Thank you all again.

Kim
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AugustC
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Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My swarm was very late. Caught on the 27th July and small. I fully understand the no feed philosophy and it is certainly something I aspire to work to but only with established colonies that have had their chance to work. I don't feel my little swarm have not had a fair crack at the whip. If they make it through the winter following the feed I give them then I intend to let the seasons tell them what to do. I do agree providing "false nectar flow" as Che puts it will provide incorrect environmental feedback to the colony telling them to behave one way when the weather conditions are telling them to behave another. As such I intend to feed until winter and then allow winter to reset their rhythms and leave them to come up in the spring on their own. I don't intend to feed them at all next year as since the bees arrived I have been paying attention to the forage available in my area and if they can't make it I am not sure they are meant to.

My only problem at the moment is how much should I give them Rolling Eyes
I have feed them about 8 litres of 2:1 since the first week of septemeber. I was giving them a litre every other night up until last weekend. I have given them a week to consolidate as I thought I saw the start of some robbing. Since the weather is bad and robbing is unlikely I will put on another litre tonight.
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B kind
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Joined: 13 May 2013
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Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

August C, I'll be interested to hear any replies to "How much to feed the bees", but I wouldn't attempt to hazard a guess myself. At least your situation was very clear, if you hadn't fed them they wouldn't have stood a chance. So glad they have taken so much for you.

I will share an update on my actions....... I decided to feed one colony to give some comparison and not put all my eggs in one basket. I gave the mother colony with the best temperament a feed on Friday. 2lbs of 2 to 1. I came to refill it on Saturday evening and I was so surprised that only about one fifth was taken. (I thought they would take it even if they didn't need it). All the hives have a fabulous thick scent of honey, it has really developed in the last couple of weeks. I left the container there until this evening and when I took it away it was empty. Am I right in thinking that if they are not taking the syrup readily that they don't really need it? I took a really good look in all the windows and I am sure that the combs are full all the way down to the bottom from my view in the window. (I assume there is brood in the centre and that the bees do not only have honey where I can see through the window!)

The weather is still warm here but I feel my next activity is to give them a straw blanket on top of the top bars. I can't help thinking it is a lovely mouse house I will be making! I will be trawling through the Biobees archives again!

Thanks so much for everyone's feedback,
Kim
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi B kind

I found my bees took the syrup VERY slowly to start with.
500mL taking nearly a week. But now they will take a litre over night.
I am told you do have to be careful with giving too much in one go as you can get comb collapse. Also, I think if they are taking it quickly they leave a lot uncapped so they can continue to collect which increases the chances of robbing.

I feed initially 500mL at a time and once they started taking it feed a litre every other day for a few weeks. When I noticed the start of some robbing I stopped feeding for a week to give them the chance to cap off etc. I have then feed another 2 litres over four days. The hive seems very active now but they are still happy to take the feed. After putting on the last feed I had a brief look behind the follower board and there were capped stores, new comb, and they were still building. I have decided to let them finish this last litre and then take the feeder off and insulate for winter. I think we may still have the ivy flow to come here so they might have that to look forward to.

My feeder is a 4 pint rapid feeder mounted on a double width topbar so I don't need to open the hive at all to fill it. I think I have given them between 8 - 9 litres so far. Which if they are bringing in a bit of their own and the hive is sufficiently insulated should be enough for them. Best of luck.
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B kind
Scout Bee


Joined: 13 May 2013
Posts: 250
Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An update.

I did feed the 2 smallest colonies in September, about 1 Lb 3 times for the smallest and twice for the other small one. The 2 larger colonies got nothing.
When winter finally arrived my gut instinct and confidence wavered as I realised that I had made my bed and now must lie in it! There were several threads about emergency feeding and starving hives that were quite uncomfortable (and sad) to read through!

I gave the 2 smallest colonies a feed of sugar barely soaked in water in February as an insurance, they took it very slowly, perhaps consuming 2 Lbs eventually.

We have had a very mild winter, the bees were flying a lot and have all made it through. The littlest colony is now the strongest and is packed with nectar from edge to edge. The others have capped honey. I had been waiting to be sure winter is over before posting here.

In retrospect, and from talking to beekeepers here, it seems that last summers "wonderful" weather was a nectar dearth. The bees must have made up for it in the autumn though, BUT, if the autumn had been very wet or the winter bitterly cold I would have been in trouble and I would have been truly sorry.

Thank you all again for the thoughtful feedback and guidance I have received, Our bees are especially grateful to you all!

Kim
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kim, that is great news!

So pleased they have all made it. Congratulations!

Now that they are established colonies, it is extremely unlikely that they will need help again, but hopefully this experience will enable you to make the decision more easily for any future swarms.

Sincerest regards

Barbara
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