In the Hive: Winter Feeding

This year I decided to feed in the winter, due in part to the fact that my hives have continued to seem “busy” with the weather in the 40s-50s for the last few months, except one cold snap a while back. I am worried that they don’t have enough food stores. Based on my research I am going to feed dry sugar (also known as Mountain Camp method) to the bees.

Why?

  • Does not introduce excess moisture into hive (Seattle, remember)
  • Temperature does not impact bees ability to consume
  • Fondant was more work than I was interested in
  • Do not have extra frames of honey available.
  • Does not seem to have issues with robbing, molding or major mess
  • Simple

How? Right or wrong, this is what I did.

  • Rounded up some chicken assistants.
  • Placed an empty box on top of the inside cover
  • Laid down a piece of dry paper, or newspaper, on about half of the cover, but not covering the hole so the bees could come up. The edges curved up. Be sure to not have them sticking outside the hive as it will act as a wick.
  • Poured on about 6 cups of sugar. I will likely need more but wanted to start small just to see
  • Spritzed the sugar once with water, remember the issue of moisture. I only did this in Betty, Florence seems to have some condensation on the lid already.
  • Put the telescoping lid on top of the box
  • Wait and see. I will follow up next weekend or so to see the progress.
Dry Sugar Bee Feeding

Notes:

I also inspected the hives (weather/time: mid-afternoon when the fog was lifted and they had some sun on them). My two Langstroth hives, Florence and Betty, still had bees coming in going although Florence had an accumulation of dead bees at the entrance that I cleaned out with a long chop stick. This allowed me to sweep further back into the hive more delicately than a hive tool. Betty had dead bees but they were piled out in front on the ground. My top bar, NoBeHive, is empty, not even dead bees, so I am guessing they were a snowbird colony and headed south for the winter (this is not real – but they are gone). I will open it up more in the spring and investigate further

Dead bees at entrance of Florence, the hive.

It was great to see bees coming back with pollen on their legs. Not sure where they are getting it from (maybe my empty top bar?) Betty seemed “louder” when I opened up the hive but I am a little worried as it seems that they were all hanging out in the top box but if that is where their food and some brood are, then I am good. I didn’t open up the hive all the way though – I will when it warms up more.

Busy bees in Betty, the hive

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