Implications of overfeeding?

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SimonB 

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In another thread discussing an overcrowded nuc one comment was

"As things stand you run a risk that the colony will choke up the brood nest with nectar so that your Queen loses laying space..."

Why do they do this? I think I have overfed my colony to the extent that there is very little laying space left - there is very patchy brood on 2 frames, all the rest is stores, some capped, some not yet.

Will they simply store as much as they are given without consideration to brood space? This seems counter-intuitive to colony survival, possibly preventing the queen laying enough brood to maintain a good sized colony. Earlier in the year I could see how this might stimulate swarming, but would they consider it at this point? Admittedly this was artificial supply, but if they could forage a similar quantity would they also fill the brood space with stores?

I currently only have 10 frames, 4 are 14x12, 2 at each end, the rest the standard nationals that came with the nuc at the end of July. The two frames at each end are neither quite fully drawn nor full. If I was to bruise the cappings on some stores on the centre two frames, are they likely to move the stores, or would they be reluctant to move it to the extremities?

Alternatively I considered risking putting an 11th undrawn frame in next to the brood frames, would they draw this now? I don't think all the current stores are entirely from my feeding, they seem to be foraging well still. If this is the case, would there be sufficient stimulus to draw it, or do I risk splitting the colony. I have both 14x12 and standard national sized frames. The reason I moved the 14x12s to the extremes a while ago was that I thought they might impede colony migration when clustered. So would a standard national be better choice if I was to insert into the middle?

My last option I was considering was to add a super (also all undrawn), bruise some stores and see if they would move some up. I would then remove the super later prior to wintering down.

After all this though, am I worrying over nothing? So they might go into winter with a smaller colony than otherwise, but is this necessarily such a bad thing?

Any advice gratefully received.

Thanks
Simon
 
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drex 

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Will they simply store as much as they are given without consideration to brood space? This seems counter-intuitive to colony survival, possibly preventing the queen laying enough brood to maintain a good sized colony.
Simon
I too had had similar thoughts to you Simon having reads some recent threads. As you say it appears nonsensical.

Perhaps some beeks with more experience can enlighten us. I expect from our locations the weather here is similar to yours. I was hoping my bees would draw out foundation, but the forum suggested not, and the bees were in agreement with this, so took it out and put dummies in.
 

Finman 

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Overfeeding and stucking the brood area depends on month.
It is most important in hives where a beekeeper want to gather honey for wintering.

The answer is simple. You should know on your area when the brooding stops and a month before you take care that the hive has space to rear winterbees.

Then you should know when it is time to put hives in wintering condition.

Overfeeding means to me that they are not able to consume all sugar before next summer.
 

richardbees 

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Simon, you've got patchy brood on 2 frames only?

That doesn't sound very healthy at all, are you sure you've got a laying Queen and are you starting from a nuc?

Whatever...don't think of adding a Super

Richard
 

the druggist 

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I had a similar problem earlier this year (this is my first year). The workers were filling every available space with pollen and nectar reducing the area for brood and this at a time when the queen reduced her laying activities (perhaps the two were linked?). On the advice of a more experienced beek I bruised/damaged a frame of nectar/honey and pollen and put it closer to the centre of the brood. They duly cleared this and Queenie started laying! Not sure this will apply at this late stage in the year but it's relatively warm at the mo so she may get her act together in time.

I think you have to do something, a larger colony is better IMO (but I could be corrected!)

Tony
 

oliver90owner 

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SimonB,

Comments on developing nucs is fairly irrelevant to a full colony on a 14 x 12 at this time of the year.

As Finman pointed out timing, to get the brood full of stores, is important.

The better method in my view is double feeding. Fill up (very quickly) all the space that is not being brooded with plenty of time to top up later. The brood space, as it emerges, is available for further brooding. When brooding reduces that space can quite easily be filled. A full 14 x 12 broodbox is not absolutely necessary for the normal UK winter. I would use an insulated divider to fill the space.

My normal regime is to make sure all the boxes are well provisioned, with stores frames either being distributed to needy colonies or any left over are stored for possible use in the spring. Particularly 'needy' colonies are united to ensure only strong colonies go into winter.

It is easier to split a strong colony early in the next year than try to boost a couple of weak ones that simply 'just' survive the winter.

I thought that the season was over the last week in September but the last 2 or 3 days has seen more frenetic activity with loads of pollen going in.

Not so easy when you only have the one colony (and no spare stores frames etc) and would benefit from a couple years experience at least! A 14 x 12 on OMF is a good over-wintering format. The more important thing is lots of healthy bees going into the colder months of the clustering period.

Not so much you can do about that now unless the weather were to improve, which the weather men are not predicting. 2 years ago my bees were foraging and brooding heavily well into November and I actually saw pollen being taken in on Christmas Eve.

Regards, RAB
 

Gillybee 

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Hi RAB, hows the old ticker working better now youve had the op, welcome back to the forum.
 

Skyhook 

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The better method in my view is double feeding. Fill up (very quickly) all the space that is not being brooded with plenty of time to top up later. The brood space, as it emerges, is available for further brooding. When brooding reduces that space can quite easily be filled. A full 14 x 12 broodbox is not absolutely necessary for the normal UK winter. I would use an insulated divider to fill the space.
Regards, RAB
Could you expand on this RAB? I'm in a similar position (excepet standard national BB) in that I only have a small amount of brood, due at least in part to the queen having been put off lay by apiguard. I have only fed about 4 litres, but the BB is pretty full, not least of ivy, so Im worried about giving them any more in case they fill every cell! :banghead:
 

Black Comb 

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Rab
I think I've got your absence mixed up with someone elses.
Hope you're doing well.
Peter
 

SimonB 

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Simon, you've got patchy brood on 2 frames only?

That doesn't sound very healthy at all, are you sure you've got a laying Queen and are you starting from a nuc?

Whatever...don't think of adding a Super

Richard
Hi Richard, yes from a very full nuc at the end of July. Numbers increased steadily but were diminished when I inspected on Saturday, not one frame fully covered in bees.

As well as patchy brood on the frames themselves there is some brood in some of the wild comb they built under the standard national frames.

Saw larvae, so yes I have a laying queen.

Seems experience can be key at this time of year. The feed until they stop taking it mantra seems to need to be tempered with some consideration for time of year and weather.

Thanks to everyone for the input and advice, I will consider my options and come to a decision as to what to do.
 

Chris B 

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SimonB,
I wouldn't be too concerned about overfeeding. IF they've got into that position they would need help out of it. But I've personally only ever had this sort of problem after a period without a laying queen. If you've had a queen laying continuously during feeding it's not nearly as likely - they'll preserve the brood nest and only fill the cells as the brood nest gradually shrinks.
Last autumn I had the opposite problem with a few hives i.e. they kept their brood nest too big for too long and the large populations munched through their feed instead of storing it.
 

Chris B 

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On the other hand, what you've just described might be a totally different problem i.e. a failed or failing queen or even laying worker. Are the cappings domed on sealed cells? Are there still drones present?
 

SimonB 

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SimonB,
I wouldn't be too concerned about overfeeding. IF they've got into that position they would need help out of it. But I've personally only ever had this sort of problem after a period without a laying queen. If you've had a queen laying continuously during feeding it's not nearly as likely - they'll preserve the brood nest and only fill the cells as the brood nest gradually shrinks.
Last autumn I had the opposite problem with a few hives i.e. they kept their brood nest too big for too long and the large populations munched through their feed instead of storing it.
Thanks Chris. There was a period during Apiguard treatment when the queen wasn't laying and the brood nest diminished in size and they were moving stores from the extremities to frames either side of the central two frames. Concerned about this I move a part empty frame from the edge next to the brood space to provide more space. My intention was to give the colony time to expand a bit again. However I was then worried after reading alot that I should have completed my feeding by now, especially to give them time to cap the stores. So they had 8kg sugar in 4.8 litres of water, two batches, about 5 days apart, they took both in a couple of days.

When I inspected on Saturday the vast majority was capped, so I could probably have left it a little longer.

Once again, experience would have told, I'm certainly gaining some though.
 

SimonB 

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On the other hand, what you've just described might be a totally different problem i.e. a failed or failing queen or even laying worker. Are the cappings domed on sealed cells? Are there still drones present?
Sorry, missed this second post. It's worker brood. I didn't spot any drones, but then I didn't look too closely. There were at least two or three drone cells though, which I was surprised about at this time of year, but not overly concerned.
 

richardbees 

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Simon,

"some of the wild comb they built under the standard national frames"

Have you got a mixture of frames in the brood box i.e. some standard (brood) and some shallow (supers)..?

Anyway, it's probably best if you leave them alone now and maybe have a look in a warm spell next month.

You're doing an excellent job in recognising what you're looking at!

Richard
 

Hivemaker. 

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Richard
this is from the first post,so yes a mixture.

>> I currently only have 10 frames, 4 are 14x12, 2 at each end, the rest the standard nationals that came with the nuc at the end of July.<<
 

richardbees 

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Thanks Hivemaker, i hadn't picked up on that....I'd just wondered where the wild comb was fitting in.

(strictly between you and me, I think there are some dodgy nucs being sold to fill this massive market of new beekeepers)

Richard
 

Hivemaker. 

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(strictly between you and me, I think there are some dodgy nucs being sold to fill this massive market of new beekeepers)


Rekon so.
 

SimonB 

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Thanks Richard (and Hivemaker)

I had come to the same conclusion, leave them be for now. The overwhelming thought I have from reading lots on here is that the bees generally know best.

Richard, was your dodgy nuc comment directed at mine? The nuc was from Thorne, and very very full when I got it. What about a nuc would make it dodgy? The queen seems healthy enough, perhaps not as prolific as would have been necessary to fill the colony but as you can see, I'm a newbie so I wouldn't really know how to judge the quality.
 

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