Fall hive management is important, and there are a lot of things to remember. Hive health and weight is key for prepping for overwintering, but unfortunately it doesn’t always guarantee a hive’s survival. Here are a couple fall management reminders:
There are a couple reasons we do fall feeding- especially in Alberta with our cold winters. A two box Langstronth hive needs to be approximately 150 lbs to overwinter. Reason being, you need enough bees to form a sizeable cluster and stores to make it through the winter. If your hive isn’t up to weight, you need to feed them to help them get enough stores.
Syrup feeding for the fall is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water or 2:1.
Pollen patties provide protein for the bees. It is also a source of vitamins, fats and minerals. Bees use pollen to feed the brood they are rearing to become the colony that overwinters in the hive. It is also stored in the comb around the honey and brood nest to provide a source of pollen for spring when they begin to rear brood again.
Dry pollen can be fed to bees if your are short on time and need to increase the weight of your hive. Tip: mix equal parts of dry pollen and icing sugar and place directly on the bee cluster so that it is eaten quickly. Watch here where we show you at 8:30.
Sugar syrup is used to provide carbohydrates to the bees and is a supplement for the lack of nectar sources in the fall. It is used for bees to feed on and store in the hive. They will use these stores in the winter months to feed on. We also recommend adding Honey-B-Healthy to your syrup (we put about 2 TBSPs in our pail feeder). It stimulates feeding in your hive with natural ingredients inlcuding: Sucrose, Water, Spearmint Oil, Lemongrass Oil, and Lecithin. Make sure to check your syrup to ensure it doesn’t go moldy.
Medicated Syrup with Fumigilan-B. If you need to treat your bees for Nosema, there is an easy way to do it with your syrup. Simply add the Fumigilan-B to the syrup mixture at your last feed. In our last Meet The Beekeeper, we showed you how to add it to a plastic bag, and place it on the inner cover hole (watch our video at 24:50). The bees will take it directly from the bag. If it is your last feed, it will also promote having the bees take the medication in to their gut instead of storing it immediately. It is recommended that you change your mite treatment every year so that it is more effective.
If your bees are still underweight, you many need to amalgamate a weaker hive with a stronger hive to overwinter. You may also consider feeding fondant bee candy over the hole of the inner cover and adding more over the winter months.
More feeding tips.
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If you are a beginner beekeeper, knowing if there are enough honey stores can be hard to figure out on your very first overwintered hive check. The simplest way to check if there are enough stores is to gently lift your hive from the bottom board (without disturbing the hive too much). If it is very light and easy to lift, you DO NOT have enough stores.