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

On and off bee feeding

BeesAll's well in both hives.

Last time I checked, I was a bit concerned because my fall feeding campaign had caused the queen in one hive to produce a lot of excess workers, but I needn't have worried.  Once the sugar water went away, I started seeing dead bees in front of the hive, proving that the colony was just as quick about deciding to slim their numbers back down so they didn't eat up their winter stores prematurely. 

I decided to feed the other hive after seeing that they were 10 pounds shy of my winter goal on October 3.  It wasn't entirely purposeful, but since that hive needed less extra honey, I let the sugar feeder run dry for a day or two between each feeding, and the boom/bust cycle seems to have prevented the queen from laying many extra eggs.  Some queens are simply more prone to increasing hive numbers when faced with lots of sugar water than others, so it's possible this queen is just smarter than the other one.  Either way, though, it seems like making fall feedings less continuous can't hurt. 

With 60 pounds of capped honey in the daughter hive, 51 pounds in the mother hive, and some still dehydrating in each, it looks like our bees are ready for winter.

Our chicken waterer is always POOP-free!

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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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How much honey did you guys get this season?
Comment by Kathleen Olsen Thu Nov 3 14:35:07 2011
We chose to split the hive instead of harvesting honey this year. The split, combined with rainy weather, set both the mother and daughter hives back, so I only took about a quart and a half from them (and probably shouldn't have even taken that since I ended up having to feed in the fall.) On the bright side, we're going into winter with two hives instead of one and both are low on varroa mites. So hopefully we'll get more next year!
Comment by anna Thu Nov 3 18:32:17 2011

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