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Advice Please - thirsty bees

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thedeaddiplomat 

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Help, please!

Last autumn, my bees went to bed with plenty of stored honey - well over a super per hive. But quite a lot of this was ivy honey, which I know crystallises hard.

The bees have been flying fairly strongly for about a week now. Today, however, there are literally dozens focusing on the water we have left out. I have not seen anything like as many before. Does this mean that they are trying to dilute the ivy honey? In which case, perhaps I should be beginning to give them a syrup feed?

Or am I overlooking another possible answer?

All advice gratefully received.
 

Finman 

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When bees bring water, they have larvae to be reared. After night they are thirsty and if weathers are bad in some day, next day they are hundreds of sucking water.

If bees have survived over winter with ivy honey, they surely not die now for sugar crystals.
 
T

Tom Bick 

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At this time of year the bees need water close to the hive and ideally something in the water its better for them to get the water from a damp stone or moss is good it sounds like you have a good colony a strong colony can handle ivy but perhaps keep a close eye on the stores as they get more active.
Your problem might be dealing with a super say half full of ivy and getting re filled with new honey and then extracting them together.
 
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You can get entrance feeders which you can use as a water dispenser. Of course they will freeze at night so would need to be removed, but they just push in when required. Saves the bees flying to find water in cold weather.
 

thedeaddiplomat 

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At this time of year the bees need water close to the hive and ideally something in the water its better for them to get the water from a damp stone or moss is good it sounds like you have a good colony a strong colony can handle ivy but perhaps keep a close eye on the stores as they get more active.
Your problem might be dealing with a super say half full of ivy and getting re filled with new honey and then extracting them together.


Thanks to you all for this helpful and reassuring advice. As for a super half full of ivy, would it be worth removing that idc, and ditching the ivy honey? Or is that sacrilege?
 

Finman 

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Wait for some time. They will eate it a lot before they get food from nature.

Folks have odd idea in their head that bees are not able to eate crystallized honey.
 

oliver90owner 

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Think about it this way. Crystallisation is due to fructose glucose ratio most likely. The water content will not change when it crystallises. Might be a bit harder to 'chew' with those mouthpieces, so need a little extra to 'pressure wash' it off the comb, but the bees have been doing that for many a year. I would dare to say the final feed to the larvae is not that much different than with non-crystallised honey when all is said and done.

Regards, RAB
 
T

Tom Bick 

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As for a super half full of ivy, would it be worth removing that idc, and ditching the ivy honey? Or is that sacrilege?
Like Finman said keep it on for now once the nectar starts I think you can remove it and store it and give it back after you have taken the honey later in the year. The problem is if it mixes with your honey you extract this year it can and probably will speed up the setting of that honey.
 

mbc 

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The water content will not change when it crystallises.

I have read that some honey is more likely to ferment when crystalization commences as its the sugars which crystalize out first leaving the same water content in slightly less solution ie. a higher concentration of water in the remaining honey solution which hasnt crystalized:confused:
 

Annrbel 

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So helpful to read such good advice, new to the site but have just taken pictures of our bees sucking water from our nature wood pile, near to the apiary. Woodpeckers have their uses in breaking the wood turning it into sponge. Have however put large tank filled with wet peat for tomorrow. Any ideas of not using peat in the future?
 

MuswellMetro 

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make sure that you dont use the ivy honey for human consumption if it is laid down during or shortly after august/september Thymol treatment
 
T

Tom Bick 

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So helpful to read such good advice, new to the site but have just taken pictures of our bees sucking water from our nature wood pile, near to the apiary. Woodpeckers have their uses in breaking the wood turning it into sponge. Have however put large tank filled with wet peat for tomorrow. Any ideas of not using peat in the future?
Hi Annrbel

Welcome to the forum
I dont think that peat will be a problem for the bees as long as its not being sprayed with any chemical or peat compost from a garden centre. Peat along with the bees have being around a long time and the bees will probably know if it is no good for them
 

shonabee 

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The water content will not change when it crystallises.

I have read that some honey is more likely to ferment when crystalization commences as its the sugars which crystalize out first leaving the same water content in slightly less solution ie. a higher concentration of water in the remaining honey solution which hasnt crystalized:confused:
mbc, I have heard the same thing and it makes sense to me. Perhaps I'm missing some extra info of oliver90owner's comment? Anyone able to help?
 

mbc 

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Also i've sometimes seen large crystalls of ivy honey discarded out of the hive in the spring- obviously not very pallatable
 

wilderness 

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So helpful to read such good advice, new to the site but have just taken pictures of our bees sucking water from our nature wood pile, near to the apiary. Woodpeckers have their uses in breaking the wood turning it into sponge. Have however put large tank filled with wet peat for tomorrow. Any ideas of not using peat in the future?
Hi Annrbel,

I hang an old towel over the side of my tank. One end is in the water and the water moves up by capillary action. Or use some flower arranger's oasis in a planter.
 
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Finman 

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I will use peat and I have used it. Its advantage is that bes like to suck it and after frosty morning sun heats it quickly. I use sphagnum moss too.

When I feed pollen patty in early spring hives are very thirsty and they come out to drink almost in zero temperature if sun shines.

You may put 10 litre water container upside down and you have a moss table under container. The mouth of the contaider needs a net that bees do not get into the container.
 

Poly Hive 

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Few points here.

Bees like "dirty water" probably as if it is dark it absorbs heat better. Peat in water is a good trick as it gives the darkness for the heat, but the cleanliness the beekeeper likes.

Bees will suck out the fluid around the crystals in "crystalised honey" and then dump out the crystals.

I have an Australian friend who has three wild colonies on her farm, and she now thinks a further fourth one elsewhere and these colonies are taking about 2 litres of water a day form the drinker she supplies them with, much to the relief of Woofa...the sheepdog that now does not bark. (because there are no bees drinking from his water bowl...) "how odd Pete Woofa is not barking now that we moved him from that tree" Poor dog was tied to the bee tree and they drank his water.

PH
 

SER 

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It's interesting to read this, mine have been flying well and bringing in pollen on all but the really wet days for the last couple of weeks. But I had never seen anything like today, hundreds of bees everywhere on the damp soil, loads around the water bucket provided, really going mad for water.

It was really good to watch.

Si.
 

oliver90owner 

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Perhaps I'm missing some extra

Perhaps you are. What I was saying was that the feed fed to the larvae (mixture of honey/nectar and pollen, and possibly water, will be the same now as in the summer.

Therefore, the water used now must be brought to the hive to dilute the honey whether it is crytallised or not.

In the summer the nectar with it's higher water content may, or may not, be used directly for larvae feeding. But the water required per larva will be about the same and if the queen has started to accelerate her lay rate the amount of water required will likely be larvae related rather than anything to do with fact that some of the honey is crystallised. A couple of percentage points of honey moisture, crystallised or not, is neither here nor there.

So, you are Speckled Hen in another life?

Regards, RAB
 

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