It’s nearly spring, do your bees have enough stores?

I was asked by the committee to discuss this matter at the Auckland Bee club and here are my thoughts:-

Your bees have come through winter and there has been days and sometimes weeks without good weather. The bees have very strong labour laws and do not collect nectar and pollen on cold or rainy days.

In the Waitakere ranges we sometimes we have several days in a row with rain, so like rainy days for humans, the bees stay indoors and eat the resources that they have collected during the summer months.

You can get the situation whereas the resources collected over summer are not enough to get them through to summer. So you can find cases where colonies die in the months before spring due to starvation.

What should you be looking for?

A good rule to always have at least three full frames of honey, and that honey is close to the where the cluster is located.

As a rough guide is a full frame of honey has around 2 kg of honey it it.

A solution 2 to 1 solution with 1 kg of sugar and 500 g of water, will produce around 1 kg of stores for the bees. So this gives you a guide to how much syrup to make up.

What’s can you do

If you need to feed your bees, the best thing to feed them is honey from a known source and no that’s not the honey aisle at your locals supermarket :D. You need to very sure that the frames of honey you feed a hive is disease free. Preferably the honey is from the actual hive that you removed before yours Autumn treatment.

American Foul Brood

If you have some disease free (ie. there come from a hive, which you know it’s clear of AFB) you can’t simply add these frames to you hives that are low on stores. Always place the frames on the outside of the cluster, never split up the brood with a frame of honey.

We also scratch the comb to allow new emerging bees to be able to partake of the food. Very young bees don’t have the strength to decap honey yet.

Or feed them a sugar solution.

At this time of the year, spring in New Zealand feed your bees a solution of 2 parts sugar to one part water by weight.

We boil up the water and then turn the heat off, then add the sugar and stir until its dissolved. Wait until the solution is Luke warm before feeding it to your bees.

It’s also a good idea to add the feed late or early in the day, when you have less chance of robbing bees being on patrol. Be very careful not to spill then syrup near your hive, or you will also get robbing issues.

We use a Top feeder, we have never had any luck with the frame feeders. You need to make sure you have something for the bees to walk on, or you will find the bees drown in the liquid.

The top feeder is placed on the top of the hive between the roof and the top box.

Place some sticks or bracken in the top tray, remember bees can’t swim in sugar syrup. We use some offcut mesh from our Meshboards to make little ramps for the bees (See photo).

Keep an eye on your bees until the first flow starts. You don’t need to feed your bees all summer. It’s only for emergencies.

Thanks for reading guys….Got any questions…Ask Below…Gary

3 thoughts on “It’s nearly spring, do your bees have enough stores?

  1. Avatar photo
    Cath Goodrick says:

    Hi Gary. Am I able to feed my bees extracted honey from my hives? Do I dilute it at all? Or just put it straight out onto a shallow dish with sticks or mesh in it?

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      Hi Cath, The standard rule is no, because if the extraction was from several hives there is a risk of transference of spores / AFB. But the exception, If you only have one hive then that should bee okay as long as you are confident in the health of the hive. Great question Cath. Thanks. Regards, Margaret and Gary…its the kiwimana buzzzzz….

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