Monday, January 25, 2010

The feed bag is back for now...

After mulling it over for the last week, I decided to forgo the dry sugar or "mountain camp" style of feeding my colony. Instead, I went back to the favorite old stand-by method of using my hive-top feeder with a 2:1 sugar syrup.

The last few days have been pretty nice with an almost spring feeling. My bees have been flying everywhere in the welcome warmth and continue to bring in pollen from nearby sources. On Thursday I decided to make another quick under the inner cover inspection. While I found frames with honey still in them, I could see that my girls had gone through quite a bit of their prized food store. This winter has been brutal at times, worse than years past...the frigid cold and snow wreaking havoc to plants and animals (and insects). And it was obvious my bees had been eating really well for their survival.

While I'm sure the dry sugar or "mountain camp" method may work for a lot of people, I just didn't think it would work for me. I read where the newspaper you use gets wet from condensation in the hive, and that mixed with the sugar on top makes a big, sticky mess. And some even said the bees would carry the sugar out of the hive and dump it because they considered it as trash. 

So I went back to the method that worked with my bees last year...and that was sugar syrup in the two gallon hive-top feeder. When I made the syrup on Saturday, I decided to give it a little scent to attract them to the syrup, so I added about three drops of pure vanilla extract to the mix. Since the 2:1 ratio is more like honey, what they've been eating for the last few months, that's what I decided to use now. And as spring gets closer and it gets time for the queen to start laying eggs again, I can change the syrup to a 1:1 ratio. And I'm not concerned about the syrup freezing solid. The temperatures here for the next week are supposed to be up in the 50s again so it should be just fine.

For good measure, I also added some Mega Bee powder to the hive. I figured they may want to store it somewhere to get ready for spring, so I sprinkled a generous helping across the tops of the frames. They seem to really like Mega Bee because every time I've used it, then go back to the hive after a week or two, its always gone. It must be good stuff. 

Hopefully between what honey they have left and the syrup I've added, that will get my girls through the next few months. Then we can wave goodbye to winter and welcome the new beekeeping season and watch the girls do what they really do best!

Bee vigilant, my friends!


  1. Dear Mark I wish succesuful season and happy days,I hope you will get eneough prodacts .Best wishes,stay well

  2. Mark, thanks for the follow-up on the newspaper. Let us know if the bees are taking the syrup from the feeder. I found in fall when it got colder they weren't taking it any more.

  3. Hi Mark. I always say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and since the top-feeder worked well for you before, don't change it.

    Our weather has been a rollercoaster ride recently - warm, rain, cold and snow last night. I'm feeding using a boardman feeder on the outside on warm days and inside a shallow super on cold days, although the bees don't seem to like the inside dining. No sign of pollen yet in the mountains.

    I've been crazy busy planning our bee school in March but hope to get caught up on post on WB soon. Hope all is well with you!


  4. Happy beekeeping season - I enjoy reading your posts...



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