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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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Emergency Feeding

A beekeeper called me on Thursday with a hive dilemma. She knew one of her hives was seriously light on food. When she checked the hive it only had honey left on one side of a deep frame. Doing nothing means the bees will be dead.
 So desperate times call for desperate measures. I told her to try spraying syrup into two frames and put them where the cluster of bees are. Mix the sugar syrup more sugary than 1:1 syrup for extra calories.  Hopefully this will buy her enough time to get a feeder pail on the hive in a month or so. She also added a couple winter patties. She was generous to share in pictures what she did and how she did it. This is her email:
Hi Jim.
Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day right when I needed to go out and work with my hives, Mother Nature was kind.  Here are some pics  and thoughts from my day in the bee yard.

I mixed and used about 12 cups of 1.25:1 syrup to fill 2 frames on both sides.

Mixing up the sugar water Photo M. Nussbaum

It was a bit chilly outside so I put the frame into a plastic bin and contained the mess to my laundry room sink.

Spraying syrup into a frame. Fill the cells with syrup.  Photo M. Nussbaum

This hive has a Carniolan queen so I’m sure their genetics have helped them get through the winter but luck with mild winter weather was also on their side.  This hive was a new package last spring but struggled continually with mites and never built up into a strong colony.  In November I gave them a last ditch treatment of oxalic acid using the dribble method, added a few Hop Guard strips for insurance and crossed my fingers.  They didn’t produce any surplus honey last summer and even with heavy feeding in the fall the hive went into winter on the very light side, so I wasn’t holding out hope for successfully overwintering the hive. When I opened the hive this week and saw the cluster of bees I was very pleasantly surprised.  They did not have much honey left, just the outer side of one frame, and I opted for emergency winter feeding to get them through to spring. I’m hoping it works.

The syrup is glistening in the light Photo M. Nussbaum
Small cluster of bees. They look hungry. Photo M. Nussbaum

Frame with syrup ready to put in the hive. Photo M. Nussbaum

My other hive, which started last year as a divide with an Italian queen, built up early, produced a surplus of two supers of honey, and went into winter with a full deep laden with honey.  I did treat for mites in September using Mite Away Quick Strips and then following up with oxalic acid using the dribble method in November. In contrast, when I checked their hive I found a cluster covering 8 frames and they have three full frames of honey remaining in the top box.

Photo M. Nussbaum