7 responses

  1. Emily Heath
    April 1, 2012

    I’ve heard of spraying sugar syrup into empty comb recommended as a last resort emergency feeding method before. I guess it gets the food as close as possible to the bees. I wouldn’t like to use it as a standard winter feeding method, not in a British winter.

    • Phillip
      April 2, 2012

      I’ve read that any liquid diet, other than the honey they already have in the combs, is not good for the bees during the winter. The liquid will add moisture to the hive, which is rarely a good idea in the winter anyway. But the main problem is that the liquid sugar syrup passes through the bees’ digestive tract faster than just about anything else they could eat, which means they have to excrete it sooner, which is difficult to do if the winter weather doesn’t provide them any warm days to get out of the hive. So many of bees get sick from not being able to excrete.

      Dry sugar absorbs excess moisture in the hive. The bees need some moisture to digest the dry sugar, but a lack of moisture is rarely a probably for them in the winter, even in a well ventilated hive.

      Or so I’ve been told.


      I’ve modified and added another paragraph to this post.

  2. Tonia Moxley
    April 2, 2012

    I’m having a heady experience reading “Honeybee Democracy” and watching the swarm trap I erected in my backyard. I’ve got a bunch of scouts exhibiting all the behaviors he describes in the book!

  3. Phillip
    April 2, 2012

    I’ve heard that “Honeybee Democracy” isn’t exactly a light read.

    So you have a colony that’s ready to swarm? Sounds like a job for the Demaree method.

    If our hives weren’t within three feet of our neighbour’s yard, I wouldn’t be so concerned. I’d actually like to see a swarm. Just not in my neighbour’s yard.

  4. Jane Peters
    April 5, 2012

    This is a new topic, however, I did’ntknow where to post , sorry….. I checked my bees today. Its still cold with quite a bit of snow still on the ground. One of my hives did’nt make it !!!! It was my swarm hive, so was weak from the onset of winter. My question is : there were very few dead bees , where did they go ??? There is tons of capped honey so they didnt die of starvation . What could have happened? My next question is; Can I use this honey left on the frames to feed my other hives? There must be at least 5 full frames of capped honey if not more … Thanks ,I always think of this web site when something goes wrong and its not in the book…..

    • Phillip
      April 6, 2012

      Hi Jane,

      General topics can be posted to the Bee Notes page. Most people completely ignore it, but whatever works…

      I’ve heard from other US beekeepers who have lost hives over the winter in the same way: the bees are simply gone from the hive. If they’d starved or froze to death, you’d find a hive full of dead bees. But NO BEES seems indicative of Colony Collapse Disorder. Beekeepers report the same thing: the bees fly out of the hive and die, leaving plenty of honey stores behind.

      Or it could be something as simple as a mouse living in the hive throughout the winter and spooking away all the bees.

      But I can’t speak from experience. We don’t have CCD in Newfoundland. I’ve only heard from other US beekeepers and read about this kind of thing.

      Rusty over at Honey Bee Suite, who has way more experience than me, may have a better answer for you.

      If the honey frames don’t look diseased, I would use them for feeding other colonies.

  5. Jane Peters
    April 6, 2012

    Hi Phillip,

    Thank you for your answer.

    I cleaned out the bottom board today and found some dead bees. While I was doing this I saw a very small mouse scoot from behind so your mouse theory is a possibility !! This hive swarmed in July, so was a very weak colony in October ( that’s when winter comes here ) . I left most of the honey , thinking they may survive with a good food source for the winter!!

    We dont have CCD here in northern BC …..yet! The frames look OK and the honey is oozing out.. I wonder if I should keep this for myself… ??????

    I appreciate your honest replies , they are always so beneficial . Have a great weekend.

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