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Adding fondant - hive weights

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elainemary 

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Since I’ve started beekeeping I’ve added fondant as ‘insurance’ around this time. However tried to be a bit more ‘scientific’ this winter by weighing hive in between hefting. They are now all coming in between 20-27lb of stores, from a start point of 40-45lb. Feel medium in weight ie can just lift with 3 fingers rather than light. At what weight of stores would you add fondant? Or would you just add a small amount above the crownboard, above the cluster in case? Most of my bees are not clustered really tightly as they are in WBCs.
Appreciate your advice
Elaine
 

madasafish 

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I would wait till brood starts appearing in large patches - which is when food demands are highest.

If you feed too much and the brood nest is full of honey (from whatever source) the queen will not have enough room to lay.

As long as they have approx10lbs honey end February, you need not feed yet.
 

pargyle 

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I would wait till brood starts appearing in large patches - which is when food demands are highest.

If you feed too much and the brood nest is full of honey (from whatever source) the queen will not have enough room to lay.

As long as they have approx10lbs honey end February, you need not feed yet.
Spot on ... more so as they are WBC's and insulated ... if they are warm enough they can get to the stores they have put away, if there are stores the hive they should use them - I suspect feral colonies rarely die from isolation starvation.

Keep an eye on the weight as, once they start brooding, the stores do go down fast - watch for them collecting loads of pollen and be ready for a quick look end February if they are feeling light. By end February down here spring is usually close but up there I know you can be three or even four weeks behind us down here in the balmy South.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Yep. Same here. 10lbs of stores but checking more frequently from mud February
 

pargyle 

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Yep. Same here. 10lbs of stores but checking more frequently from mud February
There's a freudian slip ...sadly in South Yorkshire it probably is going to be a MUD February ...hopefully our members up there are not suffering the flooding again.
 

gmonag 

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I don't feed at all. I make sure they all have 20kg of honey in autumn, then leave them alone. I do monitor the hive weights weekly using scales, but have never had the need to feed any sugar.
At the moment the lightest hive has 17kg.
 

elainemary 

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There's a freudian slip ...sadly in South Yorkshire it probably is going to be a MUD February ...hopefully our members up there are not suffering the flooding again.
I live near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire & we've had some horrendous floods over the years. Culminating in 2 years of mayhem on the roads while flood defences were addressed. Fortunately whilst the river is high all ok so far. 🙏
 

elainemary 

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Thanks all, for the feedback. Must say last couple of springs I've had to take stores out of my colonies to give more room for the queen. Because I lost my very first colony to isolation starvation (v little stores in brood nest but didn't go up into the super), I get paranoid at this time of year and start putting fondant on anyway (I now also under super in Sept). Started to see a small amount (probably 1 frame) of darker cappings on the varroa boards, so there's a little bit of brood rearing going on. I'll keep monitoring and hold off for a while longer.
 

pargyle 

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I know the area well ... exiled Yorkshireman ... I lived in the Dearne Valley close to the River Don as a kid in the 1950's and 60's .. the water meadows use to flood every year but that was what they were designed to do for centuries ... but we never saw flooding on the scale of the last few years. When they coffered the rivers and built on the flood plains it destroyed the rivers natural ability to cope with even the heaviest rain and snowfall - now we are seeing the results of man trying to control nature and frankly failing. It's very sad and I feel for the people who, once more this year, are facing their homes being flooded again.
 

Erichalfbee 

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There's a freudian slip ...sadly in South Yorkshire it probably is going to be a MUD February ...hopefully our members up there are not suffering the flooding again.
Ooops
Further up the valley one of neighbours ( new comer from the midlands last year)
has his cattle on haylage bales with kale inter planted in some sort of strip grazing. The brown areas are the already grazed strips where until last week his cows were up to their bellies in mud. Another farmer tells us he has been reported. God knows what those poor beasts’ feet must be like.
ED27FF70-BCAE-4033-A3B9-A697A62DA983.jpeg
 

Swarm 

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This was one of my friend's hives yesterday. It felt a bit light just after Christmas so he gave them some of the coloured stuff, it was all he had as he rarely feeds.
These are that beautiful colony in the video I posted. Nice to see seven seams of bees and obviously not desperate judging by the amount consumed.feeding.jpg
 

elainemary 

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This was one of my friend's hives yesterday. It felt a bit light just after Christmas so he gave them some of the coloured stuff, it was all he had as he rarely feeds.
These are that beautiful colony in the video I posted. Nice to see seven seams of bees and obviously not desperate judging by the amount consumed.View attachment 24082
Nice dark bees Steve.
Before I asked about hive weights in this post, I added fondant to my favourite colony at home as ‘insurance’. Decided to make a small hole in the bag above the crownboard as so cold, didn’t want to disturb them, normally put directly on the frames above an excluder. Seems to be working.
 

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