Feeding Bees (see update below)

Feeding bees is an important part of beekeeping, bees without food will die. Over fed bees do not die.
In the Autumn you can feed either sugar syrup or bakers fondant, the quantity will depend on the size of the colony and the amount of stores in the hive.
In the winter if stores are getting low, do not feed syrup only fondant.

Rapid feeder, this popular feeder holds 4 pints of syrup and can be inspected and refilled without disturbing the bees

  • Small Rapid Feeder 500ml   £4.44

  • Medium Rapid Feeder 4 pints  £5.82

  • Jumbo Rapid Feeder Holds 6 litres  £10.50

  • Contact Feeder, 1 gallon   £5.76

  • Contact Feeder, 1/2 gallon   £4.90

  • Frame Feeder 3.5 pints   £11.16

  • Fondant down in price

  • Large 12kg  £15.00

  • Small 1.5 kg (to place straight over the feed hole or queen excluder as a top up feed and narrow enough to fit in the space between crownboard and roof). £3.00

  • Small 340g (to put inside your mini/ apidea nucleus hive). £1.20

  • Information leaflet available.

    Winter Feeding Bees with Bakers Fondant.

    It is mid December as I write this, it is a balmy 14 degrees C and the bees are busy foraging on the local Mahonia and Vibernium bringing in pollen. This looks good but it means that the bees are using up their stores at a fast rate and hefting the hives tells me that there is not going to be enough food to see them through the winter.

    My favourite way of ensuring that the bees can get to the fondant throughout the winter is as follows.

     You will need the following:

    Based on the National dimensions cut a piece of thick polythene to about 20” x 20”, use the roof as template. I use the plastic used to wrap round pallets of jars. (Not the cling film used on some.)

    Place a slab of fondant about 14” x 9” on to the polythene. The thickness is dependent on the amount you estimate that particular colony needs at that moment in time, at this time of year a strong colony needs a lot of stores to see it through until the spring, so get into the routine habit of hefting the hive, checking your records will give you an idea of the weight per colony required. A rough guide is about 1.5 – 5kg slab of fondant. I prepare several at a time, fold the edges over to seal and take them with me to my apiaries, they fit straight back in box the fondant came in.

    Get a queen excluder, any will do, even old reject ones, I’m using the cheap plastic ones just for fondant, they are easy to clean and don’t lose as much valuable brood heat as the steel ones tend to.

    Insulation, this is important especially with open mesh floors, I use old blankets cut into strips about 17” x 54” this gives a triple layer that contours onto the shape below. Super Quilt is very good but expensive.

    Eke, you can use an old empty super but they are easy to knock together yourself.

    Method

    1. Unfold the polythene completely

    2. Remove the roof, smoke under the crown board and remove.

    3. A little more smoke on the top bars and note where the cluster is located.

    4. Place the queen excluder on the brood body, place the slab of fondant centrally over the cluster, if not central, peel off the polythene and replace square to the brood body making sure there are no bees to crush, wipe the surface with a damp cloth if sticky, put eke on and fit the insulation on the polythene.

    5. Replace crown board and roof.

    Note
    1. The wide polythene sheet enables any rain water to run off rather than seep in.

    2. The queen excluder stops any fondant running down on to the bees.

    Photos to explain the above

     

    Polythene cut to size, Queen Excluder in place                                .

Fondant on Queen Excluder polythene sheet being folded over.

          Polythene in position, eke in place.                  

  •  

   Insulation over the polythene and fondant. 



  • Crown Board on note polythene
    overhanging the edges.

         Roof and Mouse Guard in place.

And finally, you can easily check for stores without disturbing the bees by peeling back the insulation
every few weeks and seeing if there is sufficient fondant left for the size of the colony at that time of year.

Remove and replace the crown board and roof early spring when the bees are bringing in sufficient stores again.
But here in Britain, as the bees are building up in the early spring, that is when they at their most vulnerable and can rapidly run out of food.

If treating with Oxalic Acid in the winter, try to aim for when the fondant is used up and when you are about to replace the fondant to avoid any disturbance.

Heft your hives frequently to see if there is enough food, if in doubt, continue feeding fondant.

Tony Maggs

 

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