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To feed or not to feed right now?


Let me start off with my question, then I’ll show you what I have now. Excuse me in advance if I am just worrying too much…I told myself if they didn’t start drawing out in the Medium by the 1st of August (and it’s pretty much here) that I’d look into if I need to do anything different.

I just did an inspection and found that my Medium that I installed above the Deep I started with is still completely empty with no signs of comb building. I understood that once a box (in this case my Deep) got to 90% built I should add the next box, which I did on 6/26. I have a second Medium to put on before winter as they advise 3x mediums or 2x Deeps in my area (doing the 2x Mediums so they weight less to move, and I don’t see myself moving my bottom Deep much).
As far as I can tell the bees are finding less food as I probably see about half as many (as compared to mid-June or earlier) coming back loaded up with pollen. And we have had very rainy weather for the past 2 weeks. So that has me worried they aren’t finding enough to keep up the building of the foundationless frames and might not be ready for Winter…
Am I worrying too much at this point? Maybe I just put the extra box on too soon (though the heat we had been having I noticed less bearding the next day, so guessing they liked that).
Or should I look into Feeding? (need to get 2x 8-frame Mediums built out and fill for winter and it’s July 30th)

I have also read that if I need them to start building in a new box you can pull a few frames from the current box, but in my case that is Medium and I have Deep…so another idea I had was I could order a Deep, get it sealed in Tung Oil and then swap it with the Medium (probably take a few weeks to get it, seal it, dry) so then I could pull up 3 frames from the bottom and they might start to build? Just another idea going through my head…I know I am showing my newness really bad right now. Then again like I mentioned above, maybe I’m just worrying about nothing.

I have a top entrance I cut into my Inner that came with my Complete Flow Hive. I cut a custom shim to close the bottom entrance. Below are some pictures of the hive, along with a photo of the 3x Foundationless frames (seeing as the other 5 are foundation frames from the NUC they are completely drawn out already) to show how they have been going between 6/26 (top) and 7/30(bottom) as that might affect the answers you give me? It was kind of a cooler day on 6/26 and today it was very warm already when I went out to inspect (no smoke used today, light smoke on 6/26).
My Weather this past month: July Weather for Scottsbluff, NE USA


FRAME 1 (left side) - The entire right side is capped honey, btw. Looks like they used up the honey they had on 6/26 on this side though:

FRAME 2 (left side) - The brood has all hatched, but more capped honey now. The right side is even more capped honey:

FRAME 8 (left side) - HUGE build out here and lots of pollen being stored. The right side looks the same:

P.S. I need to take an evening this coming week to get photos from my last 3 or 4 Inspections posted so you can really see the progression on all the frames.

NOTE: I had hoped to work with a local beek, but that hasn’t worked out well so far and I’m mostly going along so that is why I’m asking here vs. around my own area. I have some feelers out through friends trying to make contact with other beeks that I know are in the area.


I would let more experienced confirm/expand/deny(:slight_smile:), but it’s only 4 days since added medium & they would still be drawing comb on 2 of the frames you have shown in photos. It depends on nectar flow & hive strength too. I’m not in the US however and I’m not an experienced beekeeper.


Sorry for any confusion. I put the Medium on 6/26/2016.


I would refer you to @Dawn_SD, who is in the US (so better understanding your climate this time of year etc.) It depends on time frames of season & expected nectar flow etc. remaiming. Some colonies take longer than others to do what we expect of them.
Also this thread When should I add the super in Beekeeping Basics, on this forum. Perhaps it’s not a matter of feeding but, patience?


This article I wrote might help you decide: http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/should-i-feed-my-bees/

Judging from the pictures it looks like they are actively building so, I would not feed at this point. I also find that especially with foundation less frames sometimes the bees don’t figure out that they can build in the super unless you move up a drawn frame or two to give them ideas. Unfortunately, since you are using a deep and medium you can’t move anything up. This is why I tell people to use all the same size box.


So my idea to get a Deep on order is a decent one then? It will take me a bit of time to get it, put 1 or 2 coats of Tung Oil on it and then install it.

I’ll have my Mediums for when I ether do a split in the future or get a Package of bees (what I plan to do for my second hive if I don’t do/get a split).

Also I just started to follow you, but haven’t gotten anywhere near close to reading much of your articles. Thanks for the link!


I would say to feed them. You really need them to build out all of their comb this year, so that they can survive winter. Also, get another deep quickly. Honey Run Apiaries can get a deep and 8 frames (fully built) out to you pretty quickly and pretty cheap. I think it’s $11 bucks for the box, $1.25 per frame. (Their top covers with the styrofoam are pretty awesome too). Brushy mountains top feeder with the floating screens is the best available. If you want a deep made of cedar that matches the color of your current hive, order from BeeThinking (they are the US suppliers of all the Flow wooden ware).

When they have a supply of feed, they will build comb faster, and the queen will continue laying. You need her to not think you are in a dearth and to continuing laying, so that you have a big enough colony to make it into winter. There is no harm in feeding at this point. They are not going to swarm. If they build out everything faster than you expected, then great, you might get to harvest some honey this year. If they don’t though, it’s going to be a huge problem.

Up here in northern states, the first year is all about getting to winter with enough comb, enough brood, enough honey stores. We can’t afford to do what southern states can do.


Yeah I snagged a Deep with frames from BeeThinking to keep everything the same, and most likely my Mediums will get combines with a BB and a new Inner/Outer to make my next hive so I have one in case of a split. Nothing ever wasted…just learned :slight_smile:


And some southern states can’t afford to do what you imply! :blush:

In SoCal we have so many nectar dearths, our honey production is much lower than you northern states think… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

OK, I am going back to making my feed solutions to keep my nuclei going through our dry weather spell. I need 2 deeps full for my hives to get through winter reliably - it isn’t cold weather, it is just so dry that they need that much.


Yea, I suppose we have it good in that we don’t have super long droughts. I know the east coast has been getting tons of rain, which is probably why his bees in new England are doing so well. The Midwest is actually going through a pretty bad drought right now and we’ve had to feed our bees and water our plants (which we rarely have to do).


NE = Nebraska. Sorry for any confusion.


I am in Alabama and 1st year beekeeper. I added my second box, a medium, in early June and on my last inspection about 4 weeks ago there was no drawn comb in it…deep box full of bees and brood.
I started feeding because we are in a dearth…hoping they draw comb for fall nectar flow. Will be doing an inspection this week to see where they are…


What kind of feeder did you use?


I just put a Brushy Mountain top feeder on one of my hives. We are in a dearth and the second brood box is looking very empty, so I want them to build up some stores for winter in a timely manner.


I am looking around at different feeders to get one coming (if I open the hive next and all is booming, great) to have if I needed it. Starting to thinking grabbing a Double Jar Feeder might work ok…the bees always seem to be guarding the 2" wide top entrance very well, so wondering how much robbing might actually happen. So a Double Jar feeder over the hole in the inner, then toss a Deep (might just use the Flow Hive Deep, without the frames obviously, on it) on with another inner and the pitched Flow Hive roof (I am not sure it will seal 100% without an inner…maybe.

To note there are wasps, black (sugar) ants (petroleum jelly on my stand legs seem to have stopped them), and flys that mess with my bees, but so far I never never seen a wasps or fly inside.


If you get the one from Bee Thinking, you won’t have an issue with robbing. It is sealed around the edges, and the jar lid ports are covered with hardware cloth. Pricey, but very nice design:


That is actually the one I was thinking about. I’m placing the order tonight and going to contact them as I have a Deep on order from them, so might see if I can get it all in the same box. I’ll replace the plastic jars with glass as I have a LOT laying around (we can food from our garden).


Start feeding with a Brushy Mountain top feeder. Also, grab a frame from your lower box and move it up to get them to go up and start working on the top box. If there is no feed, they will not draw comb, and the queen will stop laying. All you need to do this year is get enough comb built up to get through winter. I realize in Alabama, this might not be as severe an issue as we have up here in Ohio, but you need to get comb built up and brood built up so the number of bees can increase.