New beekeeper question about feeding

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Puffingi 

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I am very much a new bee, wondering if my first hive of bees (Warre - had it six days) needs supplementary feeding - Its sunny and there are flowers out in the garden. There is a steady flow of bees in and out of the opening of the hive, a few with their legs covered in pollen. It could get cold and damp again any day though as its only late February. The person who sold me the hive and bees, advised me to feed them, but I suppose they weren't expecting such clement weather.
 

Murox 

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Probably wise to follow the instruction given and feed them. Its great that they are collecting pollen, thats their protein taken care of. Fondant on the other hand gives them their carbs, which they often run low on at this time of year before any nectar flow really begins. They burn a lot of energy gathering pollen at this time of year and similarly burn a lot of energy keeping their brood nest warm enough on cold days and nights, so giving them fondant right now will help them keep going.
 

drdrday 

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I'd go with what you were advised, assuming that that person had a better idea of what stores the bees have left than you do.
Even if they're finding some forage this time of year they're more than likely still relying on stores too and will need a lot this time of year to start building up in the coming weeks.
 

pargyle 

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Theres a few questions I would be asking before feeding them:

1. It's a warre .. how many boxes were there ?
2. Is it an ovewintered colony (not one that has been thrown together recently) ?
3. Do the boxes feel heavy to lift or feel light ?
4. Is is a warre with top bars or frames and how do you intend feeding them if they need it ?

Lasty, whereeabouts are you ... local conditions have a bearing on what you should be dong ?
 

Puffingi 

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Thanks very much for both of your replies.
As to answering your questions:
1) Three boxes
2) Overwintered
3) Heavy
4) The person who sold it to me recommended Candipolline Gold. I have bought some but also looked at other methods. So, not sure.
5) Devon in a walled garden, more sheltered and warm than most places in UK.

Questions for you:
1) Which feeding method would you recommend?
2) Is there a better time of day to do the feeding?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
4) The person who sold it to me recommended Candipolline Gold. I have bought some but also looked at other methods. So, not sure.
That's enough information for me - Candipoline Gold is just over priced fondant dyed yellow to gull the gullible
 

drex 

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You are in for a very steep learning curve with your first bees being in a Warre hive. As per JBM, next time go for ordinary bakers fondant, it is much cheaper.. My Warre was supplied with four boxes ( no bees). Put fondant in a clear ice cream tub on top of the top bars.put the fourth box over it. Pack insulation round to fill th the dead space. Do you have frames or just top bars? If top bars, how are they positioned?
 

drex 

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Ha ha. Just placed on top, fitted onto pins, castellations?
 

pargyle 

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Thanks very much for both of your replies.
As to answering your questions:
1) Three boxes
2) Overwintered
3) Heavy
4) The person who sold it to me recommended Candipolline Gold. I have bought some but also looked at other methods. So, not sure.
5) Devon in a walled garden, more sheltered and warm than most places in UK.

Questions for you:
1) Which feeding method would you recommend?
2) Is there a better time of day to do the feeding?
If they really are 'heavy' they may not need feeding ... three boxes overwintered ? I would think, if the person who sold you them was any sort of a Warre beekeeper, that they would have enough stores to see them through. You are in an area where spring usually comes quite early so they will already be foraging - I have a microclimate where I live and mine are very busy.

As has been asked - are they Warres with just top bars or have you got frames .?

A lot of warre hives have viewing windows so you can look at the comb without disturbing the bees .. has yours got them ? If so, you can look in and see if the combs have capped stores or the cells are empty - without being able to see the combs you are working blind and can only judge by the weight .. if you don't know what 'heavy' really means in terms of what is in the boxes you are in a slightly awkward situation.

I assume the boxes were delivered to you without being split or opened up so you won't really know what is in there - one of the principles of Warre hives is that they are not intensively inspected - if they are top bar Warres it may be a bit awkward for a new beekeeper and frankly, without looking inside the hive you are not going to learn a lot about keeping bees. Inspections in Warres are usually just for space needed and queen cells and that's normally just achieved by tipping the boxes and looking at the combs from the bottom of the box.

Is the arrangement at the top of the hive a canvas quilt with insulation above ? If it is and you need to feed them you will have to have some sort of arrangement to get the Candipoline Fondant in contact with the bees - another box on top of the top box (as suggested) is an option. Or you could make an Eke with a lid and a feeder hole in the bottom and put the fondant in there, locating it between the quilt and the top box.

You are in at the deep end a bit I'm afraid. It's very early to be looking inside but if you are worried that they may not have enough stores then you have two choices - pick a nice warm day when they are flying well and have a peek in the top box to see what stores there are or just put the fondant on in a feeder of some sort and check later on in March.

You need to be careful feeding at this time of the year as you may find that they store it and the queen runs out of space to lay and the stored fondant ends up in your honey ...

There's a lot to learn and the techniques of beekeeping in Warre's are a bit different to more conventional hives.

There's a few Warre sites around on the internet:




There are more but some time spent reading the above will give you some idea of what you have got into.

As for time of day of feeding ... feeding bees is not like feeding a dog ... you put the food in the hive and leave it there - they will usually take it down and process it. Time of day is irrelevant except for the convenience of the beekeeper. What you must NOT do is put the stuff in a dish and feed outside of the hive ... you risk introducing disease from other colonies and the possibility that other colonies will be attracted to your apiary and may try to rob your colony.

So much to know ... and a short time to learn.
 
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Puffingi 

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You are in for a very steep learning curve with your first bees being in a Warre hive. As per JBM, next time go for ordinary bakers fondant, it is much cheaper.. My Warre was supplied with four boxes ( no bees). Put fondant in a clear ice cream tub on top of the top bars.put the fourth box over it. Pack insulation round to fill th the dead space. Do you have frames or just top bars? If top bars, how are they positioned?
That's enough information for me - Candipoline Gold is just over priced fondant dyed yellow to gull the gullible
Well, I did think as much, that's why I am posting here!
 

Puffingi 

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You are in for a very steep learning curve with your first bees being in a Warre hive. As per JBM, next time go for ordinary bakers fondant, it is much cheaper.. My Warre was supplied with four boxes ( no bees). Put fondant in a clear ice cream tub on top of the top bars.put the fourth box over it. Pack insulation round to fill th the dead space. Do you have frames or just top bars? If top bars, how are they positioned?
Thank you that's helpful about how to feed them. Top bars just placed, not fixed in any way. I can tell as I have another hive from same person without bees.
 

Puffingi 

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If they really are 'heavy' they may not need feeding ... three boxes overwintered ? I would think, if the person who sold you them was any sort of a Warre beekeeper, that they would have enough stores to see them through. You are in an area where spring usually comes quite early so they will already be foraging - I have a microclimate where I live and mine are very busy.

As has been asked - are they Warres with just top bars or have you got frames .?

A lot of warre hives have viewing windows so you can look at the comb without disturbing the bees .. has yours got them ? If so, you can look in and see if the combs have capped stores or the cells are empty - without being able to see the combs you are working blind and can only judge by the weight .. if you don't know what 'heavy' really means in terms of what is in the boxes you are in a slightly awkward situation.

I assume the boxes were delivered to you without being split or opened up so you won't really know what is in there - one of the principles of Warre hives is that they are not intensively inspected - if they are top bar Warres it may be a bit awkward for a new beekeeper and frankly, without looking inside the hive you are not going to learn a lot about keeping bees. Inspections in Warres are usually just for space needed and queen cells and that's normally just achieved by tipping the boxes and looking at the combs from the bottom of the box.

Is the arrangement at the top of the hive a canvas quilt with insulation above ? If it is and you need to feed them you will have to have some sort of arrangement to get the Candipoline Fondant in contact with the bees - another box on top of the top box (as suggested) is an option. Or you could make an Eke with a lid and a feeder hole in the bottom and put the fondant in there, locating it between the quilt and the top box.

You are in at the deep end a bit I'm afraid. It's very early to be looking inside but if you are worried that they may not have enough stores then you have two choices - pick a nice warm day when they are flying well and have a peek in the top box to see what stores there are or just put the fondant on in a feeder of some sort and check later on in March.

You need to be careful feeding at this time of the year as you may find that they store it and the queen runs out of space to lay and the stored fondant ends up in your honey ...

There's a lot to learn and the techniques of beekeeping in Warre's are a bit different to more conventional hives.

There's a few Warre sites around on the internet:




There are more but some time spent reading the above will give you some idea of what you have got into.

As for time of day of feeding ... feeding bees is not like feeding a dog ... you put the food in the hive and leave it there - they will usually take it down and process it. Time of day is irrelevant except for the convenience of the beekeeper. What you must NOT do is put the stuff in a dish and feed outside of the hive ... you risk introducing disease from other colonies and the possibility that other colonies will be attracted to your apiary and may try to rob your colony.

So much to know ... and a short time to learn.
Thank you for all that information and links that's very helpful. Yes, definitely I am in at the deep end.


I can tell the boxes are heavy only by comparison with the other empty hive boxes.

No, there are no viewing windows.

I'm not sure they were any sort of Warre beekeeper - if they were perhaps they wouldn't either be getting rid of the hives or suggesting the Candolline.

I've got Abbe Warre's book which I like a great deal and another Warre hive book.
 

Boston Bees 

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Thank you for all that information and links that's very helpful. Yes, definitely I am in at the deep end.


I can tell the boxes are heavy only by comparison with the other empty hive boxes.

No, there are no viewing windows.

I'm not sure they were any sort of Warre beekeeper - if they were perhaps they wouldn't either be getting rid of the hives or suggesting the Candolline.

I've got Abbe Warre's book which I like a great deal and another Warre hive book.
If you want an easier life at any point, you can switch to these

WARRE HIVE HOFFMAN STYLE FRAME - Paynes Bee Farm - Beekeeping Equipment
 

pargyle 

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Thank you for all that information and links that's very helpful. Yes, definitely I am in at the deep end.


I can tell the boxes are heavy only by comparison with the other empty hive boxes.

No, there are no viewing windows.

I'm not sure they were any sort of Warre beekeeper - if they were perhaps they wouldn't either be getting rid of the hives or suggesting the Candolline.

I've got Abbe Warre's book which I like a great deal and another Warre hive book.
Well ... you've got them so ... choices and decisions will come thick and fast ... unfortunately with the current situation with Covid you are not going to find a mentor in a hurry and ones with the necessary knowledge of Warres are going to be a bit thin on the ground.

So your first two decisions:

Look inside or not look inside ?

Feed or not to feed ?

There will be many more so best get used to it ... you will spend as much time thinking about what you are going to do (more so in the early years) as you will actually doing things ... and then as much time worrying and wondering whether it was the right thing anyway ! Better than the Times crossword for keeping your brain active ...
 

Puffingi 

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Well ... you've got them so ... choices and decisions will come thick and fast ... unfortunately with the current situation with Covid you are not going to find a mentor in a hurry and ones with the necessary knowledge of Warres are going to be a bit thin on the ground.

So your first two decisions:

Look inside or not look inside ?

Feed or not to feed ?

There will be many more so best get used to it ... you will spend as much time thinking about what you are going to do (more so in the early years) as you will actually doing things ... and then as much time worrying and wondering whether it was the right thing anyway ! Better than the Times crossword for keeping your brain active ...
Hahaha so true about the decisions.
 

Swn58 

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That's enough information for me - Candipoline Gold is just over priced fondant dyed yellow to gull the gullible
Ohhhh noooo....I've been 'gulled!' My bees seem to love it though. As always, I read the instructions and the 'bee-good' ingredients on the packs. It looks good to me! I read every pack in fact, just in case they change one to 'only use in Autumn' or something equally beeno like that. :devilish:
 

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