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Season turned bad

This season started better than last year but has turned nasty here is the mountains. Its just dry is the only way to describe it. My big hives are doing OK but the surviving split is struggling so its time to help them. I use baggie feeders and colour my syrup with food dye so I can tell it from nectar. Looks like this season we will be playing the game of tracking the syrup. If you change the colour of each batch its fun to track just how much the bees move the nectar/syrup around in the hive. May as well have a bit of fun with this…

Cheers
Rob.

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I feel for you having to feed the hives so early, it is heading for a long hot Summer there on the lower Blue Mountains. Up here last Summer there was the usual flowering in the bush but there was no nectar so maybe these conditions are going to be the new ‘normal’. The drought has crossed the Great Dividing Range, something that I never thought could happen.
Cheers Rob

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We had a dearth followed by a drought, then snow then warm weather. I’m external and internal feeding as much as possible until the real cold hits.

I have everything except the snow. :smiley:
Actually having some would be a good thing so once it melted the flora would get some benefit. There was no rain last Summer which is normally my wet season, and this year again precious little rain and no rain in the forecasts. March this year was the first time ever I have had to feed my bees and it is a worry that with the climate change bee keeping will become very difficult in area that were previously great for bees and honey production.
Cheers Martha

Hello there Rob,

sorry to hear the bees are struggling. here in Adelaide the last month has been kind- lots of mild sunny days and many trees in flower. Things did slow down but overall they still look good. However- if there isn’t much more rain then I expect things will really slow down in summer.

can I ask about using baggies to feed: I have been considering doing the same for my hills bees in the winter months- and baggies seem like a simply way to get feeding done. However I worry that they will leak and cause a disaster? Have you had any problems? Do you make a few holes with a pin in the top side of the bag? cheers.

Oh- and speakign of climate change- I got sent a photo from a Sydney beekeeper- it seems that scene from the recent Blade Runner sequal film may not have been Science Fiction after all:

image

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Regarding the baggie feeder. Don’t overfill so its not tight. I fill my bags about 3/4. Lay them on top of the frames and I just use a pair of scissors to make a slit in the top. Try it with water on a table so you work out how to do it.

Cheers
Rob.

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The main thing with bag feeding is to to have to much in them.You can use a Stanley knife to make about a 1 cm slit.What I do is use a bird watering hopper from a pet store, the same principal as an entrance feeder but much bigger and sit it on top of the super frames in an empty box so there is no risk of robbing. The feeders range from 500ml to 2 litres. If you would like a pic let me know Jack.
Cheers

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Here in Perth, we just had the hottest start of December - ever! It has been relentless. I’m on the scarp and gets really hot - my weather station recorded 43°C twice this week.

I’ll be checking my hives tomorrow, hoping I won’t find everything in one melted lump.

Hey Jack, what’s wrong with inverted jars to feed? I find them so easy and convenient. The trick is the size of the holes, which I make with a staple gun. You can have a row of jars on a couple of strips of timber for more volume. That’s what has been suggested to me and works a treat. No leaks.

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i mostly have hives with migratory lids and jars wont fit. I do use jars sometimes with flow hive peaked roofs. I have entrance feeders with bottles but sometimes they cause ant issues. Mostly I don’t need to feed- but my hill hives sometimes do need some extra sugar. I think in winter pollen would also help but pollen patties are too expensive.

In my experience so far bees seem to cope with temps around 42c. It’s over there (+44) that issues seem to arise, especially so for crowded hives without supers on them.

I have only migratory roof on my hives so I have come up with this simple idea to feed my hives without any risk of ants or robbing with an entrance feeder. All you need is an empty hive box and a few of these feeders that are available from any pet store. Sit them on top of the super in the empty box. With the need for feeding I found that using 4 feeders being used once was enough to carry the bees for about 6 to 8 weeks and the feeders were empty in a day so the feeding could be rotated among the hives. So you only need a spare hive box to be able to feed maybe 20 hives or more. So buying a few is a cheap investment to my thinking.
It seems to me with the drought the issue is the lack of nectar in the flowers, and not a reduction in pollen up here. With the recent small amount of rain there is a marked increase of nectar about but with days in the mid to late 30’s it could be a long, hot and dry Summer.
Cheers

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Martha, Why do you external feed? Surely internal feeding is more targeted to your weaker hives.

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I have fondant in the hives and feed syrup externally for when the bees are out. Our weather is hot and cold so I can’t really plan well until our real winter hits. We have an unusual weather pattern for this time of year. Real cold at night and the days are ranging from 30’s to 60’s F, rain, icy mornings etc. It’s a first for me so I’m trying to help the bees keep their stores up. So if they are eating it I’m going to supply it. I really don’t know what else to do to feed them and keep the hive dry.

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It is temperature wise 68F at night to almost 100F of a day here, the start of my Summers, and so dry I have taken to sucking the water out of a stone. Some evening showers but nothing to brag about, we desperately need more. The BOM 3 month weather forecast is that there won’t be the Summer wet season again this year, for the second year running, so for me climate change is happening and I need to adjust to it for my bees.
I only internally feed my hives with syrup and if the bees are foraging then find they leave the syrup and feeding can stop. I might be overly cautious about externally feeding but the last thing I want is to start robbing and if there is a need to feed hives then that is a stronger possibility.
Cheers Martha

I like the convenience, and reuse factor, of the rapid feeders. They come in 0.5, 1, 2 and 4l sizes. I just make a coverboard with a rim that makes the migratory lid high enough for the feeder to fit over or a shim.

You can also put additional covered holes in the coverboard if you want more ventilation.

Adam

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