Feeding for nucs starting now?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Ed K, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    I live in south west PA. The dandelions are just coming out in my area and some dogwoods are blooming.

    My bee suplier just brought the nucs from Georgia and will probably have them to me this weekend. I'm just getting started so I have no drawn comb.

    Question: should I plan on feeding to help the bees draw comb or with the dandelions out will they be able to forage on their own?

    Thanks
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    I would have the feed available to them, and you will know when to stop feeding because they will stop taking the sugar syrup in favor of the nectar. The reason for this is that a nuc still has a relatively small population compared to a full sized hive. This means that the bees are focusing their efforts on brood rearing. If you have sugar syrup available for the bees at the entrance of their hive, they can use this for their brood rearing, and put their population to work rearing brood rather than collecting nectar. As for pollen, the pollen that the bees will harvest is far superior to any protein patties, and the bees will ignore the patties if they have them in preference for real pollen. So, I would just give them sugar syrup. Once they have the second hive body almost filled with comb, I would stop feeding, and put on a honey super, without the excluder. It is true that the queen may lay eggs in the freshly laid comb, but once this brood hatches, the bees will fill the cells with honey, and the queen will not be able to lay eggs there again.

    justgojumpit
     

  3. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My personal opinion. You cannot over feed a new colony. I'd feed them all summer long so they'd build up lots of comb and stores. I'd include supers in that equation, let them draw comb there to once the main body frames are drawn and filled.

    Then, next year, you should be in good shape to possibly get honey from them as you would hopefully have lots of comb and a good strong hive.

    I think it's false economy to scrimp on spending $20 for sugar throughout the year. Lots of new hives don't flurish and die out during the winter because of it.
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I always figured that it would take a while for the bees to find the good foraging areas, and so I feed to give them a chance to catch their breaths. It would be hard to feed your family when you don't know where the food is, yet. And dandylions provide pollen but no nectar.

    I start out feeding my packages. I am carefull at first so that they do not run out of feed before they know where the flowers are, and then I generally get more sporadic. I will quit feeding soon as there are a lot of flowers in bloom, (I hived those packages a few weeks ago), but I will feed again after the blackberries bloom as the foraging is poor here in the middle of summer.

    At the beekeeping club they call it "blackberry winter" because there isn't much to eat, and a new hive will not have the stores of an established hive. Later on this Fall the goldenrod will bloom, and then the bees will put up a lot of honey for the winter. But, I do not expect a new hive to have enough stores to carry them through the summer dearth.
     
  5. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Feed early feed heavily...as much as they will take. This may be the difference between getting a honey super off your first season (new hive) vs not. We will switch our new bees (we buy packages and put them in Nucs) into regular hives sometime in the next week-10 days. We will continue to feed them even then.

    We will stop feeding once they have mostly drawn out the second deep.

    Sugar syrup is cheap. Why wouldn't you feed?

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  6. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    If you are thinking about total honey yield over the course of the first two years, I would think that you would be better off feeding the whole season. Feed the bees until they've drawn out two deeps, then add a honey super and keep feeding. Remove the drawn super frames before they are capped, replacing with new, undrawn frames. Extract the nectar/sugar syrup from the drawn frames, and feed this back to the bees. This way, you will keep reusing the same sugar, supplemented by collected nectar, to continually draw out frames throughout the season. Once extracted, you can put empty drawn frames in another super over the inner cover for the bees to clean them out, or if you are using a hive top feeder or a pail feeder, you can just set up the frames in an empty super some distance from the hives. The bees will then clean them out so they will be ready for storage. Make sure you don't put the extracted frames too close to your hives, as you don't want to instigate robbing.

    justgojumpit