Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Feeding

Fall is here and that means it is time to feed the bees.

At the beginning of September we harvested honey and stole all the honey the bees made this summer. Now it is time to make sure the bees have enough stores to get them through the winter. Since we pulled the honey early in September the bees had a fall nectar flow from sunflowers, goldenrod, and a few other blooms that occurred this fall. Besides their 2 deep hive bodies I left them each a medium super to fill back up with honey. To be sure they have enough, I am supplementing their feed with sugar syrup.

They say that in the fall you should make the sugar syrup in a 2:1 (sugar to water) mixture- this is supposed to stimulate honey storage. In the spring you are supposed to feed with sugar syrup in a 1:1 mixture to stimulate brood production. I don't know why this makes a difference to the bees, but that is what the experts say. Last fall I fed a 2:1 mixture but had problems with the sugar precipitating and clogging up the feeder. This year I am using a 1.5:1 mixture and it seems to be working pretty well.

The first gallon of sugar syrup given to each hive this fall also contained fumagillin. Fumagillin is an antibiotic used to treat and prevent nosema. Nosema is a protozoan that likes to infect the GI tract of honeybees and cause dysentery. Feeding on sugar syrup that contains fumagillin all winter will hopefully keep the bees good and healthy.

Hear is a photo looking inside the feeder.
Last year a lot of bees fell down into the syrup and drowned. This year I took a wire brush and roughed up the inside of the plexiglass shield to give the bees feet little ridges to cling to. I don't think I have found any dead bees in the feeder this fall.

This photo shows the bees close up.

You can see them lined up across the feeder sucking up the syrup as they prepare for winter.

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