Wednesday, May 4, 2011
LESSON 101: The Inside Scoop On Feeding Bees (www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678)
Hey there beekeepers and beekeeper wanna-bes. We’re David and Sheri Burns of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms with another lesson, and what a great lesson. Finally, answers to frequently asked question about feeding bees.
I have lots of information to share with you on feeding bees, but before we do, let me tell you of some upcoming events.
We working our way through sending out our packages. This has consumed so much of our time. We work very hard to ensure all packages are strong, healthy and fresh before we send them out. We also have a few valuable techniques that we use to ensure our packages do well in shipment. Three of our children are out package team, our oldest son David (25), middle son Seth(17) and our youngest daughter Karee (20). They do a great job.
Next week Sheri and Karee will be hosting Ann Kaiser, editor of Country Woman Magazine. She’ll be featuring out queen rearing operation and even trying her hand at raising some of our outstanding queens. We’ll keep you posted on when the article if finally posted.
We have lots to do to spruce up the place for some great photos, and if it EVER warms up, we’ll get to work!
LESSON 101: The Inside Scoop On Feeding Bees
I’ve written lessons on feeding bees but for some reason I’ve received enough email to know that some people do not understand how to feed bees. So, let me break it down to where it is easy to understand.
First, there are several ways to feed bees such as: entrance feeders, top feeders, division feeders(frame feeders), pail feeders and several others probably.
Which feeder to use depends on what you want to accomplish and what time of the year it is. For example, entrance feeders are great for spring and early summer but cannot be used in the fall or they will excite robbing. And, entrance feeders will freeze in the winter and when the bees cluster at temperatures below 50, the bees cannot go down to the entrance feeder.
Top feeders work well during the spring and summer and early fall, but are not to be used in cold weather as the syrup will freeze or crystalize and the bees can freeze while eating and fail to re-cluster if the temperature drops fast.
Division or Frame feeders are simply a reservoir that takes the place of a frame. They work well year round because the syrup can remain warm in the nest area. However, it requires opening the hive and exposing the bees in order to refill.
A pail feeder is a pail, it can be a purchased pre-drilled pail or you can make your own, such as the same jar and lid that is used for an entrance feeder can become a pail feeder. Here’s how it works. Simply place the pail feeder above the cluster. It can either sit on the top of frames or it can be placed above the hole on the inner cover, that oval shaped hole. Pail feeders can be used year round, but in the winter it is best to use an inner cover to hold the heat in the cluster and place the pail above the hole on the inner cover. We sell a premium inner cover that has the small mouth hole pre-cut into the inner cover to feed during the winter. Since the jar is above the cluster it usually does not freeze, but it can if really cold or the cluster is really small.
Next, a common question is how long to feed bees after installing a package. Some say that as long as bees are pulling out wax on new foundation, it is good to feed them. There is wisdom in this approach as bees do need sugar to produce wax. 6-8 pounds of honey are needed for the bees to produce a pound of wax. And it takes 500000 flakes of wax to make one pound. As the young bees consume sugar/nectar/honey, they produce wax in their wax glands under their abdomen. However, sugar is expensive and most sugar is GMO beet sugar and so we prefer to only feed new packages about two weeks. Once dandelions are in full bloom we slow down or entirely stop feeding our bees. It seems to us, that if bees are fed too long in the spring and summer they do not forage as much.
When a new package is first installed, there can still be cold spells in the north which can kill packages on undrawn comb. Drawn comb seems to provide a better way for the new colony to stay warm on a cold night. Bees produce heat by eating syrup or sugar. This year, on our small divides which we did in mid April, we made up a sugar patty and placed it on the top frames of our splits. This is made with powdered sugar mixed with just a little water to bring it to a dough consistency. These sugar patties saved the small splits.
How to mix the sugar syrup. Syrup should be mixed 1:1 in the spring and 2:1 in the fall. So in the spring, use one part water and one part sugar. No need to boil, just mix well with warm or hot water. 2:1 is 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. This is good to feed weak hives in the fall because they can store the 2:1 mixture sooner before the weather turns cold.
For winter feeding, we recommend our Winter-Bee-Kinds.
Winter-Bee-Kind For Winter Feed For Bees
Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kinds Some form of a candy board has been around for a long time. Beekeepers of long ago placed candy in their hives to provide enough food for their bees to survive the long months of winter. There are various mixtures and receipts for candy boards. Some are made with soft candy and some with hard candy. The end result is still the same. The bees will consume the sugar as they need it. We've always been concerned about the amount of condensation that can develop in the hive during the winter. The bees produce heat within their hive and as the temperature is very cold outside the hive, condensation will develop on the warm side, just above the bees on the inner cover or top cover. This condensation can accumulate and drop down onto the winter cluster of bees below. Bees can stay warm in the winter but they must remain dry. If this cold water drips down onto the bees, it can reduce their ability to keep their cluster warm. The insulation on our Winter-Bee-Kind helps reduce the excessive moisture and even puts some of that moisture to work, as it accumulates on the candy and makes it easy for the bees to consume the sugar. Thus, a Winter-Bee-Kind can help lessen two winter stresses, the lack of food and excessive moisture. We make our Winter-Bee-Kinds with sugar and a healthy amount of pollen powder. Many beekeepers make the mistake of only feeding their bees sugar in the winter, but the bees also need protein which they obtain from pollen. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds come with pollen mixed in with the sugar.. Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kind today. We recommend that you place candy boards on your hive any time between Oct-March.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Which way does the candy face in the hive?
A: The candy faces down just above the winter cluster. Normally, this means that the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the brood box that contains the cluster. For example, if you overwinter your bees in a single deep hive body, the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on this deep hive body with the candy facing down toward the cluster. If you are using two deep hive bodies to overwinter, then the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the top deep hive body. It is best to disregard the use of an inner cover, and simply place your top cover over the Winter-Bee-Kind.
Q: What about winter moisture?
A: Moisture can develop in the winter from condensation, a contrast of the heat the bees produce in the hive and the extreme cold temperature outside the hive. Condensation accumulates on the warm side, which means moistures collects on the inner cover or top cover above the hive. This can drip down on the bees and chill them during the winter. A Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of an inner cover and any moisture that develops from condensation aids the bees in consuming the candy.
Q: How long will a Winter-Bee-Kind last on a hive?
A: On average about 3 weeks. However, a colony that has ample stored honey may not consume the candy board as fast or not at all until they need it. A colony close to starvation may consume a Winter-Bee-Kind within a week or two.
Q: Since Winter-Bee-Kinds are placed or replaced on the hive in the winter, can I open the hive up on a cold day?
A: It is best to place the candy boards on a hive when the temperature is above freezing and try to place the candy board on and have the hive sealed back up within 1-2 minutes. It should not take over 1 minute. Do not remove any frames in cold temperatures, only place your Winter-Bee-Kind on and off quickly. If you can choose the warmest day during the winter, that would be best. Try to avoid very cold, windy or rainy days.
Q: How do I refill a candy board?
A: It is best to send back your candy board and we will refill it for $7 plus shipping. If you are a good candy maker, you can do it yourself.
Q: How do I get one with a pollen?
A: Our Winter-Bee-Kinds contain pollen as well.
Q: Can I make my own?
A: You can, but you must experiment, because you do not want the candy to be too hard or too runny. The exact mix depends on your altitude, heat source and other conditions so it will be different from one location to another.
Q: Why was some liquid sugar dripping out of my Winter-Bee-Kind when I received it?
A: It is the nature of candy boards to be a bit on the dripping side even though the top may be hard. Do not be concerned if you see liquid sugar dripping out of your boards when you receive it. It usually means it was left on end during shipment for a prolong period of time. The bees will clean everything up and enjoy this soft liquid.
Q: How much sugar is in one Winter-Bee-Kind?
A: Approximately 5 pounds
Q: When do I put a Winter-Bee-Kind on my hive?
A: Any time! Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb are good months to place on the boards.
Q How often should I check my Winter-Bee-Kind?
A: Every three weeks, take a peek.
Q: Do you make Winter-Bee-Kind for 5 frame nucs or 8 frame hives?
A: Yes, check out our website to order, but carefully read the description to make sure you are ordering the correct size and type.
Q: Can the candy break loose from the board on the hive?
A: It rarely happens, but during extreme winter weather, the candy and separate from the board while on the hive. This is not a problem. The bees will continue to consume the sugar.
Q: When I place it on the hive, do I use my inner cover. Just how does it go on?
A: Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of your inner cover. Simply place the Winter-Bee-Kind on the top of your upper hive body or super with the candy facing down, then place your top cover on top of the Winter-Bee-Kind. Be sure to use a rock or brick to make sure the wind does not blow your top cover off. There is overwhelming enthusiasm about our Winter-Bee-Kinds. Click here to order now.
Thanks for joining us today. Call us today to order all your beekeeping equipment, hives, suits, woodenware, queens and more!
217-427-2678. Or visit us online at: www.honeybeesonline.com
Please be patient when calling as this is a busy time of the year for beekeeping questions and orders.
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Posted by David Burns at 9:51 AM