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DorsetNewBee 

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Hello I have been reading and learning from this site for a while now but have never posted a question before. So forgive me if it is a stupid one; I am new to beekeeping and had to learn in a rush because I was given a hive last Christmas and was waiting to do a beekeeping course before taking advice from locals and acquiring my own bees. Lockdown got in the way and then before I was able to do any kind of course a swarm of bees just arrived in my hive which I had placed empty in what I hoped would be a suitable spot. So I have had to learn as I go along, aided by two very helpful local beekeeping friends. My hive is guarded against mice, wasps and woodpeckers (wasps still active around it) and they seem to have plenty of stores. But advice seems to differ about feeding them; They have had quite a lot of syrup and I added more a couple of weeks ago when I saw a lot of bees crowding round the empty feeder. Since then they have taken nothing at all, there is no activity in the feeder. Does that mean they have enough? I have some fondant ready to add at some point but am not sure when. ANy advice please? PS Some days I don't see many bees out and about but today, which is quite mild, there are quite a few coming and going. I don't like to disturb them by checking frames, just hoping for the best. SOrry for long post. Is it possible to overfeed or will they just take it if and when they need it? Thank you, any advice would be very much appreciated
 

Erichalfbee 

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You can feed too much but that doesn’t matter for now.
How heavy is the hive?
Pick it up at the back with a couple of fingers. If it’s nailed to the stand relax. If it lifts up too easily it’s too light.
What sort of feeder have you on it at present?
 
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Where is the feeder ?

It may be getting a little cold now to be feeding syrup .. some of mine are still taking some syrup down but the feeders are in an empty super above the crown board and surrounded by Celotex insulation, The heat from the colony keeps the syrup at a temperature that they will still take it down.

They will still take fondant if you feel they are light ... you need to check what weight the hives are ... either weigh them or heft .. I use the three finger test. If you can lift the hive on one side with one finger then they are light, if you need two fingers and a bit of effort they are probably OK and you just need to keep and eye on them, three fingers and the hive feels nailed to the ground ... should be fine until spring.

You can put a box (see through takeaway cartons are good) of fondant over the crown board hole and see if they continue to take it down - some people leave fondant on all winter.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Hello I have been reading and learning from this site for a while now but have never posted a question before. So forgive me if it is a stupid one
Chill. Never a stupid question. However, be prepared on here for the occasional stupid answer :biggrinjester:
Bees, like beekeepers are compulsive hoarders so they won't stop when they've got sufficient - if it's available, they'll bring it in (if they have room) so yes, you can overfeed, but as a complete beginner it's better they have too much winter stores than not enough.
I'm assuming you are feeding them sugar syrup? now, with the weather getting colder they are reluctant to take it down, and really, you should stop feeding sugar syrup now as they struggle to assimilate and store it so it could cause fermentation further down the line which can cause dysentery. With invert syrup it's safe to leave it on much later.
As Dani, if you can gauge how heavy the hive is, give it a go.
Fondant is fine for late/midwinter feeding, it doesn't go off and causes no problems. If you are unsure of their stores situation, do as Phillip says and slap some on.
 

DorsetNewBee 

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Chill. Never a stupid question. However, be prepared on here for the occasional stupid answer :biggrinjester:
Bees, like beekeepers are compulsive hoarders so they won't stop when they've got sufficient - if it's available, they'll bring it in (if they have room) so yes, you can overfeed, but as a complete beginner it's better they have too much winter stores than not enough.
I'm assuming you are feeding them sugar syrup? now, with the weather getting colder they are reluctant to take it down, and really, you should stop feeding sugar syrup now as they struggle to assimilate and store it so it could cause fermentation further down the line which can cause dysentery. With invert syrup it's safe to leave it on much later.
As Dani, if you can gauge how heavy the hive is, give it a go.
Fondant is fine for late/midwinter feeding, it doesn't go off and causes no problems. If you are unsure of their stores situation, do as Phillip says and slap some on.
Thank you to everybody for your replies. I have tried lifting the hive as suggested and it feels very heavy to me. I had not thought about the temperature of the sugar syrup (I have a rapid feeder over the crown board in an empty super, hope that is the right description!) so will take that away and perhaps put some fondant on.
 
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Hi dorsetnewbee, and welcome, have a look at This thread on weighing hives it gives you a good indication as to what hive weights should be how much syrup to feed and more.
I weigh most of mine with Luggage scales it gives you a more accurate hive weight and you can assess the weight of the hive and feed acordingly.
It sounds like your hive is a good weight for winter, if your interested in knowing the exact weigh invest in some of the above you can get them for under £10.

Personally if the hive when hefting felt nailed to the floor I would hold of on feeding fondant untill February or later. But weighing the hive every two weeks to assess, will give you a pretty good indication as to when to feed fondant.
Regards

Mark.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Thank you to everybody for your replies. I have tried lifting the hive as suggested and it feels very heavy to me. I had not thought about the temperature of the sugar syrup (I have a rapid feeder over the crown board in an empty super, hope that is the right description!) so will take that away and perhaps put some fondant on.
and think about lining your roof with a slab of 50mm celotex to insulate it.you can then keep another 18" square piece of celotex with a hole in it the size of your fondant carton so the hive is still insulated if you need to feed.
 

DorsetNewBee 

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Hi dorsetnewbee, and welcome, have a look at This thread on weighing hives it gives you a good indication as to what hive weights should be how much syrup to feed and more.
I weigh most of mine with Luggage scales it gives you a more accurate hive weight and you can assess the weight of the hive and feed acordingly.
It sounds like your hive is a good weight for winter, if your interested in knowing the exact weigh invest in some of the above you can get them for under £10.

Personally if the hive when hefting felt nailed to the floor I would hold of on feeding fondant untill February or later. But weighing the hive every two weeks to assess, will give you a pretty good indication as to when to feed fondant.
Regards

Mark.
Thank you, that is so helpful. I did weigh with luggage scales but wasn't sure I did it right - you lift slightly on both sides and add the two together, is that right? My hive is a WBC one and I don't know what it weighs when empty. Anyway I just tried and failed to lift it from the back with two fingers - and only JUST with three. But thank you - I have read other threads on the subject but when it comes to feeding I have had lots of well meaning but contradictory advice from other local beekeepers, hence my question.
 

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In the light of the recent starvation alert I am thinking of feeding fondant to some of my hives.However I had planned to treat all hives with oxalic acid in December using a vaporiser . Can I do this while there is fondant in the hive or must I remove it before the application?
 
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In the light of the recent starvation alert I am thinking of feeding fondant to some of my hives.However I had planned to treat all hives with oxalic acid in December using a vaporiser . Can I do this while there is fondant in the hive or must I remove it before the application?
No you will be fine vaping and feeding fondant
 
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Thank you, that is so helpful. I did weigh with luggage scales but wasn't sure I did it right - you lift slightly on both sides and add the two together, is that right? My hive is a WBC one and I don't know what it weighs when empty. Anyway I just tried and failed to lift it from the back with two fingers - and only JUST with three. But thank you - I have read other threads on the subject but when it comes to feeding I have had lots of well meaning but contradictory advice from other local beekeepers, hence my question.
I screw Hook eyes to both left and the right side of the floor and try and get them so there equal.
I weigh without the roof on so floor, brood, crownboard. I'm using standard national and 14x12 hives. My standard nats hives go into winter weighing 27.5kgs to 30kgs.
When lifting either side you only need to lift a few centimetres no more, you weigh both sides and add the weights together. Try and keep your hand steady as the weight will fluctuate somewhat most luggage scales will beep when the weight is registered.

Im sure someone will post some weights for wbc type hives, anyone?

If you have any worries about weights put fondant on anyway it will do no harm.
 
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Hello DNB - which association have you contacted for the introductory course?
I’m not West Dorset, but our paths might cross after (if there is such a thing as after) lockdown / COVID.
My take on it is to keep fondant on through the Winter, so you’ll have given them every chance. If they don’t take it, what have you lost?
If they need it and it’s not there, then what have you lost?
A no brainier methinks. Good luck👍
 
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Recently someone posted about having weighed their empty hives so they could compare with winter weights.
Think it may have been @elainemary ?
Although I don't know if they had WBCs.
Unfortunately, there is not a real 'standard' for WBC's in terms of construction - they are/were made with a variety of timbers and types of roof .. with the inner boxes, crown boards and outer lifts and stands all contributing to the weight there is probably no 'set weight' you can work with. Some WBC's even have national boxes inside them and I've even seen the lifts made from plywood. There is the potential for a lot of variation in weight unless you know the manufacturer and they can give you empiric weights of the empty kit.

Without this the only way to be sure is to weigh them after they have been fed for winter and track the weight this year and make a note of the results in your particular WBC as winter progresses into spring. At least, then, you will have the basis in place for what level of stores your colonies require to see them through - or not as the case may be.
 

elainemary 

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Recently someone posted about having weighed their empty hives so they could compare with winter weights.
Think it may have been @elainemary ?
Although I don't know if they had WBCs.
Yes was me, I've recently started to weight my WBCs with a luggage scale.

@DorsetNewBee, I have 2 types of WBC, old fashioned v heavy pine bought at auction & much lighter Thorne teak WBCs. When weighing I take lifts and roof off. This is because dry lifts and roofs can weigh less when completely dry vs those in wet, cold weather; also easier / lighter to weigh.

All measurement in lb, just happened to set my scales to lb & kind of stuck with it!

Weights which might be useful to you:
WBC Thorne Cedar floor with integral legs plus the first lift/porch and sliders 7lb
For comparison, solid pine one in the same configuration weighs a whopping 27lb.
WBC Thornes brood box with 10 frames (empty drawn comb and dummy) 16lb
WBC super with 9 empty 'fat' combs 9lb
Glass crown board for WBC 3lb
Assumed 5lb bees

So, if your set up is similar to mine, assuming the lighter Thorne type cedar WBC i.e. floor, first lift/ porch; brood box, super, glass crown board, incl all 'empty' drawn frames ex stores, this all adds up to 40lb.
So minimum weight you want in winter before adding fondant I'd say is 20lb stores (4 full brood frames) = 60lb minimum, below this I'd add fondant if mid winter; or your 'ideal' to include another 20lb stores is 80lb (with 40lb stores total)

Just a comment about weighing WBCs, from trial and error I've found the best way is to remove the roof and lifts, put a ratchet strap around so tucks under the floor and over the crown board. Position the metal ratchet to one side so your luggage strap hook can be positioned without slipping on one side, then gently lift by max 2cm off the ground on one side, take the measurement. Reposition the strap on the other side and lift again, measure the other weight & add the 2 together. Then compare this to how it feels without the luggage scale so you learn what the weight feels like.

Hope this helps, any other questions about WBC, happy to help :)
Elaine
 
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Yes was me, I've recently started to weight my WBCs with a luggage scale.

@DorsetNewBee, I have 2 types of WBC, old fashioned v heavy pine bought at auction & much lighter Thorne teak WBCs. When weighing I take lifts and roof off. This is because dry lifts and roofs can weigh less when completely dry vs those in wet, cold weather; also easier / lighter to weigh.

All measurement in lb, just happened to set my scales to lb & kind of stuck with it!

Weights which might be useful to you:
WBC Thorne Cedar floor with integral legs plus the first lift/porch and sliders 7lb
For comparison, solid pine one in the same configuration weighs a whopping 27lb.
WBC Thornes brood box with 10 frames (empty drawn comb and dummy) 16lb
WBC super with 9 empty 'fat' combs 9lb
Glass crown board for WBC 3lb
Assumed 5lb bees

So, if your set up is similar to mine, assuming the lighter Thorne type cedar WBC i.e. floor, first lift/ porch; brood box, super, glass crown board, incl all 'empty' drawn frames ex stores, this all adds up to 40lb.
So minimum weight you want in winter before adding fondant I'd say is 20lb stores (4 full brood frames) = 60lb minimum, below this I'd add fondant if mid winter; or your 'ideal' to include another 20lb stores is 80lb (with 40lb stores total)

Just a comment about weighing WBCs, from trial and error I've found the best way is to remove the roof and lifts, put a ratchet strap around so tucks under the floor and over the crown board. Position the metal ratchet to one side so your luggage strap hook can be positioned without slipping on one side, then gently lift by max 2cm off the ground on one side, take the measurement. Reposition the strap on the other side and lift again, measure the other weight & add the 2 together. Then compare this to how it feels without the luggage scale so you learn what the weight feels like.

Hope this helps, any other questions about WBC, happy to help :)
Elaine
Well done Elaine, I new some one would come up with the goods so to speak(y)
 

DorsetNewBee 

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Yes was me, I've recently started to weight my WBCs with a luggage scale.

@DorsetNewBee, I have 2 types of WBC, old fashioned v heavy pine bought at auction & much lighter Thorne teak WBCs. When weighing I take lifts and roof off. This is because dry lifts and roofs can weigh less when completely dry vs those in wet, cold weather; also easier / lighter to weigh.

All measurement in lb, just happened to set my scales to lb & kind of stuck with it!

Weights which might be useful to you:
WBC Thorne Cedar floor with integral legs plus the first lift/porch and sliders 7lb
For comparison, solid pine one in the same configuration weighs a whopping 27lb.
WBC Thornes brood box with 10 frames (empty drawn comb and dummy) 16lb
WBC super with 9 empty 'fat' combs 9lb
Glass crown board for WBC 3lb
Assumed 5lb bees

So, if your set up is similar to mine, assuming the lighter Thorne type cedar WBC i.e. floor, first lift/ porch; brood box, super, glass crown board, incl all 'empty' drawn frames ex stores, this all adds up to 40lb.
So minimum weight you want in winter before adding fondant I'd say is 20lb stores (4 full brood frames) = 60lb minimum, below this I'd add fondant if mid winter; or your 'ideal' to include another 20lb stores is 80lb (with 40lb stores total)

Just a comment about weighing WBCs, from trial and error I've found the best way is to remove the roof and lifts, put a ratchet strap around so tucks under the floor and over the crown board. Position the metal ratchet to one side so your luggage strap hook can be positioned without slipping on one side, then gently lift by max 2cm off the ground on one side, take the measurement. Reposition the strap on the other side and lift again, measure the other weight & add the 2 together. Then compare this to how it feels without the luggage scale so you learn what the weight feels like.

Hope this helps, any other questions about WBC, happy to help :)
Elaine
Thank you so much for all your help. I will try that!
 

DorsetNewBee 

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Hello DNB - which association have you contacted for the introductory course?
I’m not West Dorset, but our paths might cross after (if there is such a thing as after) lockdown / COVID.
My take on it is to keep fondant on through the Winter, so you’ll have given them every chance. If they don’t take it, what have you lost?
If they need it and it’s not there, then what have you lost?
A no brainier methinks. Good luck👍
Thank you very much. I have now done a half day course but hope to join a more detailed one organised by West Dorset Beekeepers' Association if it is able to go ahead in January. Otherwise most of what I have learned has been from this forum, and my experienced neighbour as well as numerous videos and books.
 

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