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Sugar?

  Sunday, 18 September 2016
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I promised myself I wouldn't do this but I have to ask or I'm going to burst. Why sugar? Every year about this time I start hearing about feeding the bees with sugar syrup. Next will come candy boards, fondant and then winter patties. I wonder about the big producers - are they really feeding their thousands of hives? putting sugar boards on them? racing around with pallets of winter patties in their trucks? What about the wild bees - who is feeding them? I recall visiting Chaz Mraz's place and asking about that and he said that they had found it was a lot more efficient and less expensive just to leave a little more honey in the hives so the bees could feed themselves. I thought that made a lot of sense. Somehow taking all the bee's honey and then giving them sugar water seems like taking someone's steak and potatoes and giving them kool-aid and twinkies to live on. So - tell me - why does everyone feel that they have to feed their bees to prevent starvation? Are our bees too helpless to feed themselves or have we just taken too much of their hard won stores so they don't have enough for winter? Just curious.
5 years ago
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#2241
I try not too feed syrup, but sometimes it must be done.

I super between late April and early July...according to flow and colony needs. I try to remove the supers by early goldenrod flow. Light colonies get their winter feed on goldenrod/aster flow. Some years, like this one, there is a failure of the fall flow, and the colonies are too light for winter. Yes, I could leave supers of honey on all light hives. I don't like to do that, as the broodnest will move up into those supers by spring, the hive gets taller, and a significant number of my honey supers are now occupied and can't be used for honey supers when I need them. I have a hot room full of full supers just in case though. If a good colony is severely light...needing more than 5 gallons of feed, they do get a full super and a couple gallons of syrup.

Not to mention the difference between the cost of sugar and labor, and the price of honey. I've never seen a problem feeding for winter.

If your hives are heavy enough for winter, then good on you. But some day you'll have a year when they're very light, and there aren't supers to put back on. What are you going to do then? I remember a year when Chas's grandfather did have to feed syrup.
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