The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Now the bees finally want sugar water

Empty honeycomb

When I peeked up under the hive this week, I was hoping to see the third box full of capped honey.  Instead, it looked like the bees hadn't drawn any extra comb, and the comb that existed was pretty much empty.

Bee feederWith the wingstem nectar flow over, the bees are reduced to scrounging through the asters and everbearing raspberry flowers, so I decided to try again and see if they would take sugar water now.

"I don't mind if I do," said the bees, gulping down a pint in seven hours.

What I'm not sure about is how much honey is in the hive at the moment.  I estimated the bees had packed away 26 pounds (one hive body full) when I did a thorough inspection in early September, and the third hive body looks exactly the same now as it did then.

If the hive only has 26 pounds of honey in it, I'd need to pour 10 quarts of sugar water down the bees' gullets before weather gets too cold for them to dehydrate the nectar into sugar --- a tall order.

On the other hand, it's quite possible that the bees have simply been moving honey into the upper boxes as they slow down brood production, in which case I don't need to feed as much.  Since I can't tell the difference without opening the hive, I'll just keep feeding as long as the bees keep eating.

Our chicken waterer makes it easy to leave town for the weekend without worrying about your flock.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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You've done about as much as anyone can do to help your hive prepare. If you are uncomfortable with the amount of stores your hive has you can also make your own fondant easily enough. I'm still feeding one of my hives I'll check in on them again this coming week. I was wondering if you had asters blooming in your area. Currently bees are working Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides). I have a half acre or so of buckwheat just now blooming and possible frost Monday morning. I sure hope it holds off a few more weeks.
Comment by Will Sat Oct 6 09:21:50 2012

Will --- Now I'm wishing I'd fed longer in the spring as some folks suggested. Oh well --- 20/20 hindsight!

We do have quite a few asters, but they don't seem to be quite so topnotch as the wingstem were. Or maybe they're just further away --- the bees barely had to get out of bed to visit the wingstem, but the asters are on the other side of the barn (maybe a city block away).

No buckwheat left, unfortunately. I killed the last of it when preparing for the garlic last month. Probably should have planted a bed or two to leave just for the bees....

Comment by anna Sat Oct 6 15:48:20 2012

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