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  • Autumn Feeding Debate

  • General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #11972  by Patrick
 17 Sep 2021, 09:21
Not a stupid question at all. I would leave the roof in place, it is such a quick and dirty test you don’t want to be dismantling hives every time.

As you are only trying to tip up slightly from one side at a time ( you can do one side then the other if you think the syrup has has been unevenly stored ), the difference a roof makes to raising a couple of cm is negligible. You are really briefly testing resistance to lifting rather than “weighing” as such.

Weighing, if desired, is probably better done with eyelets in opposite sides of the floor and luggage scales or the like. I have not personally done it.

As mentioned, colonies often consume stores at different rates. Hefting say every couple of weeks or monthly quickly picks up those colonies going lighter than the average and flagging up if they need extra help. Conversely, some stay stubbornly heavy - if this is combined with little or no entrance activity on the days when others are freely flying, there may be an issue. The latter case is arguably more annoying as in the middle of winter there is usually little you can actively do.
 #11973  by JoJo36
 17 Sep 2021, 18:38
Thanks again Patrick,

I hefted my 4 hives earlier and two were seriously heavy with other one pretty heavy and one not so much so, the lightest is one which they are slow taking down syrup??!!

I'll top up lightest ones tomorrow and maybe leave the heavies as there won't be any room in them left to lay I suspect!!

It's all really a guessing game, trial and error and a gamble:)
 #11992  by AdamD
 21 Sep 2021, 09:16
I have roofs of various materials, so take them off to heft as they are so different in weight.

I checked most colonies at the weekend and most are OK with a few that need a little more syrup, on the assumption that we will get some decent weather for foraging.

I've never seen any problems with ivy honey being difficult for the bees to access over winter, even where there have been slabs of rock-hard lardy ivy honey in the frames. However if there's sugar syrup mixed in with it, that would make it easier for the bees to consume.

A couple of small colonies can go into bigger boxes and for those, I can rob stores from large colonies which can draw a frame of foundation out much more easily than a small stock.
 #11996  by JoJo36
 22 Sep 2021, 06:18
Ahh, I left my roofs on!! When I looked inside the hives they seem to have loads of stores and I'm mindful if I jam pack it too much there won't be anywhere left for the queen to lay??!!
Maybe I should just carry on feeding until they don't want anymore or just shove a lump of fondant on later on?!
You just never know which way is the right way:)
 #11997  by NigelP
 22 Sep 2021, 08:17
Queens do stop or slow down laying as the season progresses. A lot depends on the area where you keep your bees. There is no National standard time for this :).
If they will still take down syrup you can feed till full.
Your hive type (wood vs poly) and winter itself will have the biggest effect on amount of stores consumed. Although there are also some colonies that eat up their stores regardless. The added insulation of poly means less heat is lost and so less stores are needed to keep bees warm. An insulated crown-board on a wooden hive has a similar effect.
I find in my poly hives that store usage in the current warmish/damp winters is not too great and I find I am often removing brood frames clogged with syrup stores in the spring. These are fine and can be saved for feeding nucs etc during the season.
The solution I apply is to start feeding around now and feed until they are heavy. Usually about 10 litres of thick syrup per hive. Then it's simply a case of checking weights (hefting) during the winter and add fondant to any I think are getting too light.
There is no right way of feeding for winter, just don't overcomplicate it.
And as they say, better overfed than dead!
 #11998  by JoJo36
 22 Sep 2021, 12:55
Thanks Nigel, I've given all mine around 8-10 litres already and there are literally loads of bees flying as its really quite warm down here at the moment!
Next week weather changing and will be rainy and overcast for the most of the week!
Mine are all cedar hives but it does'nt usually get really cold down here until maybe Jan/Feb and nothing like up North to be honest!
I did buy some jabba board from Wickes last year and made them some jackets!! :)