This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hives short on food

Winter Patties can help save a colony from starvation. If a colony is out of food, two patties is enough food for 7 - 10 days of food. Patties can be stacked on top of one another to give the bees more food. While winter patties are for emergency feeding only, they can very helpful for late season starvation that happens when brood is in a colony during the month of February.
I have had several beekeepers stop in to get winter patties for their hives as they have colonies light on food.
One beekeeper noticed the bees had eaten all of his patties already, I told him his hive is close to starvation. He thought the bees will go down in the hive because his bottom box was full of honey. I told him bees do not move down to get stores in the winter. As the last gasp to save his colony I advised him to do a reversal yesterday while it was warm and put some winter patties in between the two boxes so the bees can transition up into the new top box. The advise I gave was one of desperation because the bees would more than likely not have made it if he did nothing.
Another beekeeper noticed his hive was out of honey. I told him to take out four frames of empty drawn comb. Take a spray bottle with the highest amount of sugar water that can be sprayed through the sprayer. I think 2:1 syrup will not spray through a hand sprayer but I think 1-1/2:1 syrup will. Spray the syrup into the cells of the frames and fill them with syrup, as full as the frames can be.
 Then take the frames and put them next to the cluster of bees in the hive.
 Yesterday was 30 degrees and the bees were flying taking cleansing flights, so the bees were moving around in the hive and can easily move on to the new frames of syrup.
Both of these were last ditch make or break solutions. Will their bees make it? The answer to that is, it was a sure bet they would have starved if the beekeepers did nothing. A better solution for all beekeepers. Check your hives in mid August. If the bees do not hive the top box full of honey at that time, take the honey supers off and feed the bees then. Fall feeding can be tough to get enough syrup into the hive for proper winter stores. 
 I will give these two beekeepers credit that they noticed a serious problem and have tried to fix it. No matter what the outcome is, they did everything they could to save their bees.