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.
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 Long Lane Honey Bee Farms at 9:51 AM