Starvation Risk?

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gmonag 

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As some of you may know, I do not normally feed my bees at all. In autumn I leave 20kg of honey in each hive to see them through the winter. I monitor the stores by weighing the hives weekly.
At the end of March all my hives had 10kg+ of stores remaining. Yesterday, I had to put feeders on three of them. They were almost completely dry of honey or nectar. The weather here in E Anglia has just been so consistently cold and dry, with frost most nights, for the whole of April. Any blossoms that have survived the frost have simply not produced nectar because of the temperature and/or dry ground.
:(
 

pargyle 

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As some of you may know, I do not normally feed my bees at all. In autumn I leave 20kg of honey in each hive to see them through the winter. I monitor the stores by weighing the hives weekly.
At the end of March all my hives had 10kg+ of stores remaining. Yesterday, I had to put feeders on three of them. They were almost completely dry of honey or nectar. The weather here in E Anglia has just been so consistently cold and dry, with frost most nights, for the whole of April. Any blossoms that have survived the frost have simply not produced nectar because of the temperature and/or dry ground.
:(
It's a bigger problem in parts of East Anglia ... the areas of monoculture are, in places, massive and not crops that are remotely of use to bees and other pollinators. The systematic reduction/removal of hedgerows over the last 50 years has contributed to all sorts of problems (and I know that there is now encouragement for farmers to reinstate hedging). It must make beekeeping very difficult at times - more so when the weather this year in the East has been consistently well below what you would expect. I'm also aware that a lot of farms are owned by mega farming companies and the economies of having large flat fields must conflict with ecological concerns.

At least in Bury you have some areas that are more 'normal' around you.
 
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gmonag 

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It's a bigger problem in parts of East Anglia ... the areas of monoculture are, in places, massive and not crops that are remotely of use to bees and other pollinators. The systematic reduction/removal of hedgerows over the last 50 years has contributed to all sorts of problems (and I know that there is no encouragement for farmers to reinstate hedging). It must make beekeeping very difficult at times - more so when the weather this year in the East has been consistently well below what you would expect. I'm also aware that a lot of farms are owned by mega farming companies and the economies of having large flat fields must conflict with ecological concerns.

At least in Bury you have some areas that are more 'normal' around you.
All true. The saving grace normally here is OSR, but this year it is a scarce as hen's teeth.
 

Ian123 

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Don’t worry it won’t be long until another comes along who tells us all they never feed their bees. Realistically that normally means they don’t have many or haven’t kept them for any period of time😉
 

Ringlander 

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Hi, original poster here. Thanks to all for the advice, as suggested I have left them alone other keeping a close eye on the honey/nectar levels in the supers. They must be using everything they bring in at present as the store levels and hive weights are finally holding steady. I weigh the hives regularly and up until the last few days have typically been losing 1.5 kg a week during April, with what I estimate at less than 2kg left in the hives right now - hence my concern. Unlike much of East Anglia we are lucky to be surrounded by smaller scale farms and also have a lot of ancient woodlands, meadows and common land here so normally we would be geeting a nice mix of pollens and nectar in at this time of year, but it's just been too cold and dry so far. Peeing down as I write this so hopefully things are improving! I've got the syrup prepped and ready however.... :)
 

Amari 

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As some of you may know, I do not normally feed my bees at all. In autumn I leave 20kg of honey in each hive to see them through the winter. I monitor the stores by weighing the hives weekly.
At the end of March all my hives had 10kg+ of stores remaining. Yesterday, I had to put feeders on three of them. They were almost completely dry of honey or nectar. The weather here in E Anglia has just been so consistently cold and dry, with frost most nights, for the whole of April. Any blossoms that have survived the frost have simply not produced nectar because of the temperature and/or dry ground.
:(
All true. The saving grace normally here is OSR, but this year it is a scarce as hen's teeth.
I'm not far away and have been caught out too. Two hives lost to starvation: mea culpa +++. This is despite adjacent or very near OSR which started blooming first week of April.
 

Murox 

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I'm not far away and have been caught out too. Two hives lost to starvation: mea culpa +++. This is despite adjacent or very near OSR which started blooming first week of April.
Yes the weather has been bad everywhere, 'luckily' I hadn't been able to take fondant/pollen patties off, it was so cold and dry, although I nearly did a week ago as they were starting to bring in some nectar. I had planned to this coming week, will wait and see before opening up again now.
 

WoodenBeam 

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OSR may be out but a lot of stuff is late - I’m awaiting the hawthorn & sycamore which has yet to come into flower, 10 day forecast does show a bit of light at the end of the tunnel🤞
Willows produced well I feel which did kick start things however the recent weather meant everything is being consumed & no excess. Like others have already stated, I’m dropping frames of stores into colonies as opposed to putting supers on - not a good start to the season.
 

deemann1 

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I have 16 hives on a field of osr barley any honey in them , crazy ! The queens slowed up laying...
Very cold nights here and the days aren't much better
 

Ian123 

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As some of you may know, I do not normally feed my bees at all. In autumn I leave 20kg of honey in each hive to see them through the winter. I monitor the stores by weighing the hives weekly.
At the end of March all my hives had 10kg+ of stores remaining. Yesterday, I had to put feeders on three of them. They were almost completely dry of honey or nectar. The weather here in E Anglia has just been so consistently cold and dry, with frost most nights, for the whole of April. Any blossoms that have survived the frost have simply not produced nectar because of the temperature and/or dry ground.
:(
Ok I’ve got to ask did you have to rush out and buy the feeders, because previously you did say.

gmonag said:
Phillip.
I have never used a QE.
I have always used foundationless frames
I never feed sugar
I use the Rose Hive Method to manage my hives
 

Karol 

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Does it matter what was said before? Isn't it more a question of adapting your husbandry to suit the change in conditions? We have had several decades of kind climate so it's no surprise that many beekeeping practices have acclimatised to those favourable conditions. I dare say quite a few beekeepers have been caught out by the cold especially because wherever one turns one is constantly bombarded with messages of incessant global warming.
 

gmonag 

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Ok I’ve got to ask did you have to rush out and buy the feeders, because previously you did say.

gmonag said:
Phillip.
I have never used a QE.
I have always used foundationless frames
I never feed sugar
I use the Rose Hive Method to manage my hives
Grow up man!
 

pargyle 

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Ok I’ve got to ask did you have to rush out and buy the feeders, because previously you did say.

gmonag said:
Phillip.
I have never used a QE.
I have always used foundationless frames
I never feed sugar
I use the Rose Hive Method to manage my hives
Let's not start down this road ...

I don't use Queen excluders but I have some...
I don't treat my bees but I have a variety of OA sublimators....
I rarely feed my bees but I have enough feeders in case I need to ...
My frames are foundationless but I have a foundation press ..

Some questions are best left as thoughts ....
 

Antipodes 

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There was a comercial beekeeper here who had to feed his hives a couple of years back. It was a shocking season. The worst in memory. This guy had been keeping bees for a very long time (over 70 years), and had never had to feed them before.
 

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