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Feeding Sugar Syrup


#1

I’m confused as to if and when I should be feeding my bees and would really appreciate some advice please. I’m in Victoria Australia.
I have recently added a QX and super containing 8 new frames with wax foundation above my brood box. Is it advisable to give the bees a helping hand in drawing comb by feeding them? The available natural food supply is gating low due to it being late summer and dry conditions here.
Many thanks to anyone who has time to reply.


#2

Feeding is a bit of a contentious topic so you will likely get varying answers.

I personally only feed an active colony when a swarm is new and in ‘comb building’ mode to take advantage of the rapid build out. I also feed over winter if stores were low at the end of the season (eg. new swarm at end of season).

I have a general rule of thumb that if the super is on I don’t feed, primarily because I want to avoid sugar syrup in the supers as much as possible.

Is there much honey stored in the lower frames? What’s the motivation to put the super on?


#3

Wait what? Should I be feeding a swarm? We are in the middle of a flow, is it still a good idea to feed to build out the box?


#4

I agree with RBK. If there is food available and your bees are doing what they need to I would leave them alone. Although if the hive is struggling to get comb and resources collected to get them thru the upcoming winter then you could feed to help them along. The question is does the hive have enough resources to get them thru the winter? If not I am not sure that putting the super on is the best plan of action.


#5

I agree with all of those who are wondering what made you put the super on. Is your brood box overcrowded? If not, I would take the super off, and feed the brood box later as they use up their stores.


#6

I feed for the first few days of establishing a swarm. Even if there is a Flow on, the sugar is immediately available and is rapidly turned into comb during this stage of establishment.

Keeping in mind the 8/1 honey to wax ratio, it takes a lot of foraging to collect the nectar to draw a full box of combs and their crazy comb building mentality when establishing only lasts so long.


#7

Thanks to all those who replied. As a relatively new beekeeper, I highly value this advice.
I added the super as I thought the hive was brimming with bees. Perhaps I don’t know how “brimming” they should be before adding a super and also perhaps, I just should not have done so as late in the season as it is. Can I have comments on these suppositions pls?
Many thanks.


#8

The standard advice is a bit tricky, but here is what I have found works best:

  1. All frames have fully drawn comb. A few holes around the edge is fine, but big gaps (20 or 30% of the space inside the frame) mean it is not fully drawn.
  2. Each frame is 80% full (eyeballing that number is fine) of brood, honey or pollen. So only 20% of the fully drawn cells are available for more brood or food.
  3. When you lift a frame out during inspection, it is completely covered with bees, such that you can’t really see what is underneath it. If you have used smoke, or shaken bees off the frame, this may have an impact. It can make it seem like you have fewer bees than you have. So I rely more on points one and two above.

If all of the above are true, your bees probably need more space. If I feel that I need more space late in the season, I often add it below the existing boxes, in the brood space. That way it doesn’t increase the heating energy required by the bees as much. If they need more space, they can use it. If they don’t, I can remove it after a couple of months. Don’t put the plastic Flow frames below the brood box though. That would not be good for you or the bees.


#9

Thanks Dawn. Great rules to go by.
I hope your bees are OK during your cold winter.
Cheers