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Nesema ceraena – a parasite to bees.  More info HERE

Bee Culture Article on Suggestions for Beginners – Bee Culture – Suggestions for Beginners
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Bee Culture Article on Winter Losses. – Bee Culture – Winter Kills.

Feeding Regimen
By Marlin Harmon
All of us neophytes in the field of beekeeping are finding that the old timers all have a set schedule for the times of the year they feed, medicate and harvest their honey. That seems to be one of the important parts of their successes. Another idea for the WBA web page would be collect the important dates when the medication, feeding and harvesting should be applied. This could be important, because it is well known that if Terramycin and Hop guard are applied at the same time, the trauma produced on the bees could cause a huge drop in the population of the bees. I think it would be good for people who have had success with the various types of medication to post their schedules of application with the feeding regimen.

By David Burns

Bees cluster in the hive when the temperature drops below 50 degrees F. A mild winter can cause the hive to get an early start raising new brood. This new brood requires a significant amount of pollen and nectar. Now that most hives are raising significant amounts of new brood, the demand for pollen and nectar is strong. In northern states we are several weeks away from any type of natural resources for our bees. And if we have more than a few days of extremely cold weather, the bees will be forced to cluster without food over the brood to keep it warm, and they may starve out.

There are several ways to feed bees during late winter and early spring. For Northern states the weather will change back and forth so an entrance feeder is not recommended. In a cold snap, bees will cluster and not be able to reach the entrance feeder. Here are feeding methods we recommend:

1) Candy Boards
Our first choice is the use of candy boards. We sell a candy board we call Winter-Bee-Kind which has an upper vent/entrance, insulation and 5 lbs of sugar with pollen mixed in as well. Placed on the top of the hive, it is always above the cluster for easy access. The upper vent/entrance allows bees to stay close to the food source but still be about to exit the hive when needed without having to travel all the way down to the lower entrance.

2) Top Feeders
Top feeders are large reservoirs placed over the top of the hive and usually hold between 1-3 gallons of liquid fed such as 1:1 sugar water. As long as the temperature remains warm these are effective. However, if there is a sudden drop in temperature the bees will be stranded feeding and fail to re-cluster and freeze. So be sure you are out of the woods for cold snaps. Some make their own top feeders by placing pails or entrance feeders on top of the hive and then place an empty deep hive body around it with a lid. Again, make sure the temperature does not rapidly fall off or this added space above the hive can deplete their pocket of warmth.

3) Frame Feeders
Frame feeders are plastic reservoirs shaped like a frame and slip in place of a frame in the brood nest area. Their obvious disadvantage is that the temperature has to be above 60 degrees F in order to manipulate frames to place it in the hive. Be sure to include chicken wire, card board or some sort of floaters to prevent the bees from drowning in the sugar water.

4) Zip Lock Bags
Fill a one gallon zip Lock bag with 3 quarts 1 to 1 syrup. Place it on top of the frames above the cluster. With a sharp knife or razor blade cut a two inch slice in the top of the bag. The air bubble will deflate and the bees will eat the syrup through the slit.

Please take the warning that most colonies starve and crash in March. The increase brood requires much more food. In fact, they are consuming much more food than they can bring in. So they will rapidly deplete their stored resources. Feed your bees starting now!