I find that if the bees have stored the syrup in the frames other than in an arc over the brood they will move the stores up no matter when you put the super on. It’s a fine balance feeding to get frames drawn. That’s why it’s often better to let the bees do it at their own pace
I agree … I really don’t remember feeding much back in the 1950’s n 60’s except when we got our packages for a few times then we stopped. Feeding seems to be kind of over emphasized anymore …(possible)…
I’ve got my first year combs mostly drawn out now n stopped feeding some time ago. We have had a good nectar flow lately. I’m
Inspecting every couple weeks now instead of weekly. As castious as I tried to be I think I caused queen damage n bees making supercedual cells on two hives. I’m really have to sharpens my old skills again. Especially with my bad eyes n vision doing the close up inspections. Distance vision is still pretty good but my arms aren’t that long. …
Getting my Flow-Hive together now … #Flow
Indeed they do.
I have one box of bees on a british standard national
They are on eight solid frames of brood…wall to wall. On the last look-in both outside frames were solid with capped honey.
I put a super on and looking at the pile of cappings underneath the hive they had moved the whole lot up by the morning.
After I have taken the honey there are frames that the bees haven’t capped properly and I don’t like to leave them on top of my 14x12 boxes. I would rather they kept winter stores in the brood box. If I put these frames in a super under the brood box the bees will have moved most of it in a few days.
This is where we transition from bee-havers to beekeepers, knowing when your bees are bringing in nectar and weighing this against the colonies needs and whether a honey surplus is being produced. A weekly inspection will help you as well as some detailed notes / photos on your frame structure (brood, pollen & honey), number of frames of just honey (surplus). What floral sources are available in your area, bees like large floral sources (remember that not all flowers produce adequate nectar) or mass plantings like agriculture, if you live in an urban environment then chances are your bees do not need to be fed.
There is no rule of thumb
You have to look in the box and see if they have stored any of your syrup.
Putting on a super of foundation if there is a nectar flow will mean that they might use that syrup to draw the frames…but with a Flow super?
The answer is it varies so you have to look.
It’s so exciting being a new beekeeper and wanting to get things moving but the truth is that if you feed to get frames drawn until the bees store that syrup you risk it appearing in the supers
I think that @Red_Hot_Chilipepper would say about 3 years! He took over some hives from a guy who extensively fed his bees, storing the syrup in the brood boxes. They have been moving the syrup up into the honey supers for the last couple of years, if I recall correctly. He has been trying hard to get rid of the syrup contamination ever since.
It’s easy to check. I just taste a section of the capped comb at various places on the comb. Sugar syrup is nasty and sometimes gritty. Those hives finally have all new frames and they are capped so we’ll see what we get this year
OK, let me clarify a little here. If you have a package, or a new nucleus with little to no existing stores, then feeding can be a great idea until they have built out some comb to house themselves.
However, if you have an existing colony, with adequate storage space, your bees will be little teeny tiny pack rats, and they will store every little bit which they don’t absolutely need right now.
With an established colony, the only time you need to feed is if you are going into winter (or a nectar dearth in our dry regions) and they don’t have enough food stores, or they are coming out of winter and they don’t already have enough food to make new brood. And before you ask, I would say that “established colony” is a movable feast, but in my book, it is at least one box (8 or 10 frame, not a nucleus box) of brood, food and bees.
Thanks for taking the time for this detailed reply Dawn.
So in that these are two new hives (my first) a package and a nuc, each given a second empty brood box to survive NE US winters, feeding was clearly indicated, yes?
However, given Red_Hot_Chilipepper’s experience that you describe, how should I proceed even if I cease feeding tomorrow? Do I need to perform some proactive step to get rid of the syrups stores? I assume I can’t tell the difference between capped syrup and capped honey.
Chances are they will burn through the majority of the stores this winter and you’ll be fine.
The hives I took over where it’s taken me 3-4 years to get rid of the syrup were fed until 2 deeps and and part of the supers above were bound with syrup. Even after I removed the frames from the supers above, the bees were still moving the syrup from below into new comb that they built in my new frames above.
Given that I don’t live in your area, and I didn’t inspect your hives, I am afraid that I can’t answer that question. I would usually feed a package for at least the first week, then see what happens if there is a nectar flow on. For a nucleus, it would depend on my inspection at installation. The two nuclei I installed this year were almost honey-bound, and there was a nectar flow on at the time. Since then, I have given them a second box, and they have done very little with it. I am still not feeding them yet, as they have plenty of stores in the first box, but I am certain that I will have to feed them as fall approaches.
I would continue weekly inspections, take photos for your records. If the food stores start to visibly decrease, and you are getting into mid-August, I would certainly consider feeding. I might feed earlier for a younger colony, especially if there is a nectar dearth and I have no intention of harvesting this year.
You can’t, really. Just stick with what you have now.
My general rule of thumb is if feed until you see that the bees are starting to cap the feed (this will initially be in an arc over the brood) then stop.
As Dawn…in the autumn if you have robbed most of their honey you need to feed to get about 40b of stores in the box…here in the UK. I like to get a fair bit of thymol in the feed too.