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Feeding bees in hot windy and smoky conditions


Good morning, my poor little bees have been caught up in the fires in Western Australia, the fires burnt out three sides of our farm, it’s not over yet but so far we have been very lucky, it’s been very hard on the bees and our other animals, I’m glad to say they survived but they still have to cope with the very strong winds and smoke, you couldn’t see your hand in front of you the other day.
I started feeding sugar syrup to help my bees with the strong hot winds before the fire then I had to evacuate because of the fire, I started them on the syrup again when I returned home and they can’t get enough of it, what would you guys do? how long should I give them the syrup with these harsh hot, windy and smoky conditions?


They may find forage nearby damaged or ruined and not get anything productive from it. If you are feeding like this don’t take any Honey off let them keep it as it will be syrup Honey.

We in the UK had to feed our bees at the end of summer because the weather was so bad plants were not making the Nectar or Pollen needed so effectively we went into winter mode early.

Because my hives were building up I wasn’t expecting Honey anyway but many beeks were down on usual Honey harvest quantities.

What you have been doing is great, due to the heat and smoke stress I would be inclined to feed not 1:1 or 2:1 Sugar with Water but 2:3 slightly thicker than 1:1 but so they don’t have to work too hard evaporating it - they will be stressed enough already - stop feeding when they have about 5 good frames of stores and keep an eye on Pollen - if the plants don’t grow back there may be a brood break you may have to get a Pollen feed substitute so Queenie can make winter bees come March/April when they close down for winter.

Chat with other local beeks - I’m sure this may have happened before - learn how to heft the hives so you can judge the amount of stores.

If you are proactive hopefully you will get your bees through


Raylene !

You are handling the situation well. With their nectar n pollen source gone or very limit it is like a dreath for any one of us with our own colonies. I personally would continue on with the 1:1 ratio unless others have a much better idea. It’s a matter of hive n colony survival present. In the future if the start using less n less of your syrup donation and the hive continue healthy not needing your supplies maybe your are out of the woods n over the hill with the bee survival problem. In short carry on !

Good luck. Sorry for the close call. We had extremely bad fires in Washington State. Few of your boys were up here helping with out wildfire Summer 2015. Gerald


Thanks Valli, we won’t be taking any honey for a long time, these are very new hives, we bought them as nucs, 1 is one month old the other is 2 month old so they are too busy building up there colony still. Thanks for you advice :honeybee::smiley:


Have they drawn all the comb in the box?
If they haven’t then do as Valli suggests, feed feed feed. I never bother with checking sugar concentrations. If you think about it, stored honey is less than 20% water so whatever concentration of sugar syrup you give they will have to work to evaporate the water. So the stronger the better. Take a plastic container and three quarters fill it with sugar. Mark the level. Add hot water to the level. Shake. Voila!
If you give the bees a water source nearby they will make any adjustments themselves
If comb is drawn then you need to have a quick look in fairly regularly to make sure the bees aren’t storing so much sugar that there is no room for the queen to lay. In such situations I like to feed a couple of litres, leave the feeder empty for a couple of days and repeat as often as required.
We have had bad floods in parts of the UK. That’s one thing. Fire is another…terrible.
I hope you are OK and the very best of luck.


Thank you Dee, we are about to do another inspection on the weekend, we will see if they have done much now they have been fed the syrup, thanks for your ( and @Valli’s ) advice I will make the syrup as you suggested.

I have been told that the hot strong winds can dry out the Nector in the flowers so they may have been short on Nector even though there was plenty of pollen around, this is the season for hot strong easterly winds so I will keep this in mind for the years to come.

The fires are now under control and the wind has settled for the day, I am going to inspect the area tomorrow to see how much is in flower.


Thank you @Gerald_Nickel, fire fighters are amazing, what would we do without them. Thank you for your encouraging words.


@Raelene some of the natives, Banksia, Gums etc need the fire to regenerate. Have you many/any of those by you?

I know the gums withstand fire pretty well and come back quickly like grasses - I just hope there is enough Pollen around


The following list is for Victoria but I’m sure there are ones to grow in WA

Hopefully when you yet back on track you may want to look at Plants that survive droughts and bush fires


Yes, isn’t that amazing
I seem to recall a story of scientists looking for some rare Protea in South Africa. A fire engulfed that area of the Fynbos that the researchers were working on and a year later the flowers sprung up everywhere.
It’s not quite the same but Rosebay Willow Herb (Fireweed in some countries) will suddenly arise in areas that have been on fire ( it used to come up suddenly on World War II bomb sites in the UK). The seeds had been dormant for years and just needed that heat.


@Dee Many Australian Natives need fire or the seed pods wont split open


None here in the UK though, as wildfire isn’t part of our natural ecosystem
Unless you are an Englishman and have a holiday cottage in Wales :wink:


We have a lot of fireweed that grows where fires were n mountain slopes that have been logged. I am keeping my 3 hives in my yard. Not enough hives to want to transport n care for long distance. I live in a combo urban n some nearby forest still. Sad to see our forest disappear n become houses.


ROFL! I remember that quote from the 1970s and 80s, “Come home to a real fire - buy a cottage in Wales”. They didn’t mean in the fireplace. :smiling_imp:


I thought you Welsh had forgiven the English LOL


We are about to burst with Marri ( red gum)

flowers, we have about 30 mature Marri trees in our driveway and another Forrest of them, these did not get burnt at all I’m glad to say. We have lemon scented gum, a few Tuart, Eucolyptus Grandis, young river gums, spotted gums, a lot of these are in bud ready to flower, but only the tree know when that will happen.
We have citrus and herbs around the house and lots of paddock weeds and grasses, the bees love some of these, I just have to learn how much pollen and nectar a hive needs and how much a tree produces​:honeybee::sunflower:


Lots of the native bush land has burnt, that would be paperbark, Marri, black boys, tea tree peppermint trees and Tuart trees, the fire should help a lot of those.
I’m trying to get a pasture seed that can be sown and flowering in 6 weeks, it is also great cattle feed, I just have to make sure it is allowed to be grown here.
Phacelia tanacetifolia ( Lacy phacelia )


Wow…I am so green.
We have Sycamore( Maple) for bees’ early nectar here; as far as trees go that’s about it until later in the year we have Lime trees (Lindens).
Lime honey is heavenly but the trees don’t yield every year.
Bees love Phacelia and you could try Borage…which makes a lovely delicate pale honey with a bite.


Black boys are so pretty - They have renamed them but can’t remember to what?

Stand by the hives and watch the returning bees - if 25% or more have pollen in their Corbicula (pollen sacks) then all should be well

If sufficient Pollen is not being brought in they may not have enough to feed new brood - so keep an eye on this


They are called Grasstrees now but you have to say Black Boy for anyone to know what your talking about.

Thanks for that info, we will set up a video camera tomorrow and be able to check it out properly with glasses on :eyes:


Don’t worry too much about the amount of pollen coming in. The bees are not daft and will reduce brooding rather than letting the queen keep laying like a train only for that brood to perish. You can give pollen but the problem with that is that you have to keep it up until natural sources become abundant again.
Trust the bees. They know what they are doing. They have been doing it for millennia.