Do buckfasts eat more than black bees?

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Do224

Drone Bee
Joined
May 27, 2020
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Location
Cumbria
Hive Type
National
I’m aiming to give my bees 40lb of stores for the winter, as the conventional wisdom seems to be.

But I just wondered if this should be any less given that they are black, probably AMM bees? One or two people at my local BKA have mentioned that black bees are more frugal with stores than buckfasts…
 
All my hives are either poly or well insulated wood. I find that black or orange they seem to come through the winter the same. It's false economy second guessing what the bees will eat. Feed them up to 40lb ish ...including what they have brought in and make adjustments in the spring. Better to take out a frame of stores than tip out dead bees

What do these local BKA beekeepers do?
 
I’m aiming to give my bees 40lb of stores for the winter, as the conventional wisdom seems to be.

But I just wondered if this should be any less given that they are black, probably AMM bees? One or two people at my local BKA have mentioned that black bees are more frugal with stores than buckfasts…
I have black bees and on average over the last 3 winters they have eaten 28lb stores per colony (Oct to first spring inspection). I always leave 40lb though as there is a spike in consumption in early spring esp if the weather is bad. As Dani has said it’s false economy to reduce, can always take out if too much and use for Nucs or during a dearth, after your first spring inspection
 
As above pointless worrying about it, feed until heavy and monitor throughout winter. Each spring there’s posts here saying I fed my bees but they starved, point is to check and take action. Colonies will vary in consumption rates even if they are the same race! The more bees the more they’ll consume is a general rule of thumb but bucks and Carnica can be frugal as well, many survive far colder harsher winters than you’ll find in the UK.
 
I aim to have my colonies weigh between 32-40KG NOW.
Then check December and feed fondant to light ones.
Ditto early Feb/March.
Remove filled combs March if more than two per hive - and use for nucs.

For nucs and mini nucs, check every 3-4 weeks and feed fondant through winter as storage limited. (Fondant in on top of a flexible transparent plastic CB so bees are not disturbed when feeding in bad weather.) Despite this I always get 1-2 losses
 
I think it's as much to do with hive insulation and bee numbers, as race, though race probably has an impact. I tailed off feeding when I switched from Buckfasts to local swarms, and feeding definitely negets feeding, but I don't take much honey. If you are running a colony for honey, i.e. moving it to forage and feeding during dearths, and want to start Spring with masses of very early bees, they will have a lot more mouths to feed.

What I do observe is my colonies sometimes shrink to very small clusters, a couple of fistfuls, in winter but seem to boom to normal size (maybe 30k) in Spring. So the standard view of how many frames of bees are needed over winter is simplistic, and assumes worst case - after all, most newbees will have Nationals filled with profligate Buvkfasts. But a bee farmer would have 40k a month earlier and maybe 60k in summer, I don't think my colonies would hit that without stimulative feeding.
 

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