Winter Stores and Fall Feeding from our Apiaries
This weeks tips from our apiaries is winter stores and fall feeding.
There are two types of food we need to keep an eye on: honey and pollen.
The honey is the source of carbohydrates in a bees diet. The amount of honey remaining in the hive after a honey harvest should be around 60-80 pounds of honey for full hives and approximately 50 pounds for nucleus colonies or nucs.
Pollen provides the source of protein needed for feeding baby bees and developing larvae. You need at least 3-6 frames of pollen for the winter.
If you are running low, you can supplement with pollen patties placed on top of the frames.
With the fall season in Atlantic Canada beginning to remain well into November, it is critical to monitor these reserves in the hive and begin fall feeding as needed.
With warmer temperatures, the bees tend to remain active and eat their winter reserves at a faster rate. And most could potentially consume their winter stores well before winter hits.
The rule of thumb is to feed them until they will not take anymore. I usually weigh my hives with a hive scale for an accurate measurement and monitor this weight. But you can conduct a manual lift test as well. To do this, try and lift your hive box with one hand by lifting the handle of the box.
If the hive is difficult to lift with one hand, then it most likely has enough food for wintering. If it is easy to lift, then you need to keep feeding.
If your hive is too heavy it could be honey bound which also leads to a problem. The queen needs empty honeycomb to lay eggs during the winter solstice and early spring. If there is too much honey packed on the frames consider removing 2-3 frames and save them to allow for extra room.
For feeding, we recommend the top feeders using 2:1 sugar water. The cooler temperature makes it harder for the bees to cure the sugar feed with evaporation so by providing less water and a thicker syrup they can cure it faster.
Tip for making sugar feed: do not use boiling water. Use hot water and slowly add the sugar and stir continuously until its mixed.
We hope you enjoyed these tips from our apiaries!