Winter feeding?

Alicia

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What, if you feed, do you provide in the winter?
I live in Vancouver, WA and have tons of rain, wind and freezing temps. First winter with bees, very nervous of not doing something I should be doing.
Thanks,
Alicia
 

babsbag

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I feed syrup to some and Winter Patties from Dadant to others. I have tried different feeders and not thrilled with any of them so this year doing only patties. I bought a spacer that goes on the hive, about 2" high, it goes between deeps or between deeps and cover and allows me to lay the patties right on top of the frames that contain the winter cluster.

You might consider wrapping the hive too but I have never done it as I am in CA and just not that cold. I know the hive needs ventilation so leave a little crack at the top or drill a top hole in the box and cover it with screen. Also, tilt the hive a little forward so if there is any condensation it will run out (in theory).
 

Mini Horses

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Well...tell us how long you've had them and what's in there & stack as it will help them to advise with respect to honey available, etc. I know that, not a lot of detail beyond :rolleyes: except you have to feed them if not established hive. The experienced ones can really detail. Good luck with them.
I'm still thinking I will (again) get a couple hives the Spring.

Reading books now.
 

babsbag

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@Mini Horses I find that the patties are easy and quick and then I don't have to worry if I have underestimated their honey stores. Just a safety net that I like.

I have a hive that is 2 years old and last winter I ignored it as the bees were MEAN and I just figured they would die without feed for the winter and I would start over. Instead they did just fine with no feed and no mite treatment. They had no honey in the super and no idea what was below as in Oct. 2014 they were just too mean to mess with. I didn't check on them until about May or June of 2015 and they were very docile. I don't mess with them and I didn't expect any honey because of our drought. Then this fall there is not much honey and not a lot of bees in comparison to spring. We had some queen issues too so that may have played into this, but I think that they swarmed and took the honey with them. Also, CA has had such a bad drought that I am wondering if they were living off of their stores even during the spring and summer. Bees are just really complicated sometimes.
 

Latestarter

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Did you look inside the hive to see what they had for stores before it got too cold to open the hive? How is your hive set up? You have a TBH? If so, @Maggiesdad would be the one to help you there. If you have a Lang, are you running double deeps for brood chambers or triple mediums? What Babs said she does with the 2" spacer is really the way to go as you don't want a huge amount of open space at the top of the hive to suck all the heat out. Normally the bees store the honey up high. When cold comes, the ball up low down in the hive and work their way up over the winter consuming stores as they go. When they get to the top of the upper box, they're out of food.

In cold climates, normally, the 2" spacer would go on top of the inner cover but below the outer cover. You would then pour plain old white granulated sugar on top of the inner cover in a U shape with the open end of the U pointed to the front vent hole upper entrance. Or you could put candy boards in there. Then if you get a semi warm non windy day, you can just crack open the outer cover and peek in to see if they're using the sugar. If they are, it means they have either exhausted their stores or they can't get to their stores on outer frames, or they passed by the stores in the lower box and are now in the top box and you'll need to continue feeding them over the remainder of the winter and into spring until you're SURE they have food available to forage for.

In cold climates, pollen patties are "normally" given to the bees in the spring right before (2-3weeks) the first flowers are available (normally dandelions) because once pollen becomes available, the foragers start collecting it and bringing it back to the hive & the queen starts laying eggs again to build up brood to collect the about to happen spring nectar start. The pollen is used to make bee bread which is what the bees feed the larva. Adult bees eat mostly honey (or sugar/syrup).

Generally at the same time as the patties, you would also start giving them 1:1 sugar water/syrup as well to keep the now working bees fed in case the hive is low on honey stores. You can lay the patties on top of the inner cover or on a warm non windy day, swap the 2" spacer to go below the inner cover and place the patties directly on top of the frames. Make sure you offset them so you don't block the vent hole in the center of the inner cover. In milder climates, a lot of folks like Babs just do patties over winter as the bees maintain hatching brood year round, though not in the same numbers as they do in spring and summer.

Hope this helps.
 

babsbag

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The patties I use are not pollen patties, they are specifically winter patties and are for hives that are light on stores. They are from Dadant.

AP23 Winter Patties are a high carbohydrate feed for honeybee colonies light on stores during the winter months. Contains Sugar, AP23, and Honey-B-Healthy.

  • Can be used in winter and early spring in place of Candy Boards
I switch to pollen patties in the spring.

I have been told that bees that are in cold area will not leave the brood nest to get to the honey and that the feed needs to be as close to them as possible, that is why I put the spacer on top of the box that has the brood in it. I don't mind feeding even if they appear to have enough honey; with only a few hives I can afford to do this.

I am fortunate though that I can check on my bees most of the winter and add more feed or move honey if needed.
 

Happy Chooks

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@Mini Horses I find that the patties are easy and quick and then I don't have to worry if I have underestimated their honey stores. Just a safety net that I like.
I do the same. It's there just in case. The bees take the patties much easier than they do syrup, and right now, we are too cold for syrup.
 

Alicia

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Thank you everyone! I have a Lang, two deep brood boxes. Hive was too new to take advantage of the medium super.
Now they are in the bottom box, seem to b stable. Definitely aware and present if I open to check on them.
I did try a pollen patties, got too mushy and started to drip in comb so I removed it. They didn't seem to be using it. I will look into a spacer. Have hive slightly tilted with a much wider/longer piece of plywood on top to shield some rain. Has been warmer now and VERY rainy.
 
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