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Frithgar 

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Hi, this is embarassing to admit but here goes

I've now got four hives of bees, I requeened them late in the year, 2 queens took, two did not. I let the two that didn't requeen themselves as it seemed the best option at the time and I believe they were both succesful. I have fed all four hives a number of buckets of syrup but now we come to the problem.

By splitting three hives to four late in the season they didn't store as much as they could have done, there has been a lot of rain etc so they haven't been flying and yes, I was late to start feeding which was a damned fool mistake on my part. I now have four hives that do not have more than 3 frames of stores in any. I realise this is a terrible state of affairs to be in this early in the winter and now desperatly need advice on how to proceed. Do you consider feeding a large amount of fondant through the rest of the winter to be the best option or is there something else I should be feeding.

It's unlikely that I will be able to obtain extra frames of stores from anyone else although I am speaking to a couple of people at the moment.

I have found a recipe for fondant here
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Beekeeping/Recipes_for_the_Bees
The recipe is halfway down the page
If you think this is the way to go then I'll make up a few large lots and feed it to the hives a couple of kg each at a time. I was thinking of putting a 2" spacer between the brood box and super so they can comfortably cluster around the fondant rather than having to go up to the roof for it.

I appreciate any helpful advice, please feel free to call me a fool, god knows I deserve it!!

frith
 

oliver90owner 

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Do you consider feeding a large amount of fondant through the rest of the winter to be the best option

There is no other option really. A large amount of something will be needed, and fondant is as good as any.

The most important thing you should be doing, is to get these colonies into, effectively, small boxes. It would appear they are all nuc sized and need to be treated as such.

So, make some dividers to retain the bees on, say, 5 frames to keep them warm - sealed at the top and upper sides at least. Put insulation on the outer sides of the dividers and cross your fingers. You may be lucky and get them all through the winter in your neck of the woods.

This is a typical situation with new beeks. I did it, of sorts, when I started. Weak colonies into winter are a bear! That is why most of my late manipulations are to unite weak colonies to make fewer, but stronger, to over-winter more easily. That leads to a better situation in the spring when early splits can be undertaken with reasonable impunity.


Regards, RAB
 
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Frithgar 

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Ok, thanks for the tips, two of them are almost full size colonies , one is medium, one is nuc size, I've reduced the nuc one and removed a few frames from the medium one, I'll insulate them all and make some fondant asap and get it into the hives.

Thanks again
Frith
 

BBG 

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"It's unlikely that I will be able to obtain extra frames of stores from anyone else although I am speaking to a couple of people at the moment."

With AFB in Bodmin/Newquay et al in September and before

https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/public/BeeDiseases/afbReport.cfm

Borrowing stores from elsewhere would be fraught with danger and surely not recommended in any event.

The experts say AFB is spread by beekeepers!
 
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That is why most of my late manipulations are to unite weak colonies to make fewer, but stronger, to over-winter more easily.
This could confuse...

Do you mean combine a weak colony with another weak one or combine it with a stronger one?
 

jezd 

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my approach, and to some degree I have one or two in the same boat is to buy inverted fondant direct from a supplier/reseller (there are 3-4 makes) - why mess around when the closest thing to nectar is available - by a 12.5kg box and an share the load.

nothing embarrassing in your situation, its called life and we are all learning.

we have special cover boards with 2" space above, if not used they are full of hard insulation but if fondant is on then we have a foam sheet on top.

JD
 
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In my limited experience combining two weak colonies leaves you with a weak colony.
I would assume so, which is therefore why I dont think that this is what Rab meant.

Two men in seperate rooms with a jar of honey each is the same as two men in one room twice the size with 2 jars of honey. The only difference being that they could cluster and keep warm...:rofl:
 

oliver90owner 

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Dishcloth,

This could confuse...

Only for certain individuals. To most it is clear as written.

"That leads to a better situation in the spring when early splits can be undertaken with reasonable impunity."


This sentence was all part of it, to be understood in context.

I am sorry if you are confused.

Borderer,

All things are relative. Your subjectivity is likely different than mine. A decision might depend on several factors, which were not addressed in that post. Most decisions should be based on the best available information, not always simply by generalisation.

My next question might be how would you describe a 'weak colony'? This is one important area that new beeks should be interested in, and take note of carefully for future reference.

RAB
 
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Is there any wonder that I might be confused. You make a statement about uniting weak colonies and then when asked to explain you waffle on about a better situation in the spring and how would I define a weak colony. I was asking you to clarify what you meant and not to run off at a tangient with what I think about something different.



All I asked was that you perhaps could be more specific about what you meant regading uniting colonies because regardless of what you think it is a non definitive statement.

To most it is clear as written.
It isnt tho is it? because you didnt say what you would unite a weak colony to..
 
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Vergilius 

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Dishmop,

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong...

Never done a unite but it doesn't seem like rocket science; surely you just want to unite together enough bees and frames of brood/food together to fill a brood box?

Hard to define the boundaries of a weak colony. It often depends on what the bees have got in terms of brood and food. Also depends on what they are in- a nuc with five frames of bees is in a much better situation than five frames of bees surrounded by six empty frames in a standard brood box. One certainly knows when they have a strong colony though...


Ben P
 
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I understand perfectly what you are saying Ben but what Rab says is that we should unite weak colonies........ Ok fine. but thats all he said, and I asked his to elaborate on his statement, but with Rab being Rab at his best, its not likely he will admit that an answer he gave is vague or could be better in detail, but prefers to chuck insults about to cover up for any fault.

How does a complete novice interpret what Rab said? Unite 2 weak colonies? You'd just end up with a bigger weak colony. Same amount of food each.
Uniting a weak colony with a strong one evens things out a bit..the bees from the weak colony have a chance to share the food of the stronger colony, even though that means the stronger ones now have less each than they did before uniting.
 

rolande 

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For what it's worth (and I very much doubt that that's much) I see a weak colony as one which is suffering from the effects of disease or a failing queen.

I don't for one moment think that stores have anything to do with whether a colony should be judged as weak or not. If they're simply 'light' but otherwise healthy feed 'em.

We could have a collapsing colony with a full super of honey on top just as easily as we can have a small unit (with for instance a late mated supersedure queen) which given a chance will go through winter and then develop into a powerful honey production stock.

The worst thing (unless we know that it is simply the case of a failing queen) would be to unite a 'weak' colony to a good one. Especially if we don't really know why they're weak. NO, best thing is to allow the weak ones to die out if that's all they're fit to achieve.

My thoughts,
Roland
 

Poly Hive 

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Dear Dishmop.

Please re read what Rab said, and he is quite right in what he said, and I for one cannot see anything offensive in it. So it might be a good idea to settle the ruffled feathers and possibility a chill pill or two and relax.

"A weak colony"... define?

Go on then. what does it mean to you? I know what it means to me. There is the rub.

So before you ask. My definition of a weak colony is one that cannot progress

The classic advice is to unite in autumn or it can be expressed as "take your winter hit in autumn". Which is tricky advice.

If I unite weak colonies. I unite them to strong ones. Otherwise it is a waste of time. Three weak colonies may give you say 9 frames of brood, but that means nothing in the over all situation as if there are not enough bees to support the situation, they cannot move on. Also you have to wonder about the strain of bee. A strain that cannot *get out the bit* is frankly no use. Best to kill the queen and unite the remaining material to something decent.

Meanwhile I urge the readership to resist the temptation to lash out at those who take the time, and use their knowledge to assist others, just because their answer is not what was wanted. Hmmm?

PH
 

borderer 

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PH

Thank you for your words of wisdom as I said in my earlier contribution joining weak colonies together does not improve the chances of survival for the reasons you have stated.

Borderer
 

Vergilius 

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Ok fine. but thats all he said, and I asked his to elaborate on his statement, but with Rab being Rab at his best, its not likely he will admit that an answer he gave is vague or could be better in detail, but prefers to chuck insults about to cover up for any fault.
Insults? What insults?

I am sure you'll get the "full elaboration" when he next posts.

Ben P

PS Is it really worth the moan when you are talking about someone who gives outsanding advice to new beeks day-in, day-out on this forum.
 
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If I unite weak colonies. I unite them to strong ones. Otherwise it is a waste of time.
Thats is the kind of answer I expected Rab to provide when I asked him for clarification on "unite weak colonies" He didnt say if to unite weak colonies together or unite with a stronger one.
I replied.

This could confuse...

Do you mean combine a weak colony with another weak one or combine it with a stronger one?
a simple question is it not? one requiring a simple answer,

not,

Dishcloth,

This could confuse...

Only for certain individuals. To most it is clear as written.
Ok Joe 90, working on the basis that you acknowledge that for some it might be confusing,,,,,

why didnt you just give an answer like Poly Hive has just given..instead of going off on one.
 
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PS Is it really worth the moan when you are talking about someone who gives outsanding advice to new beeks day-in, day-out on this forum.
you missed out trying to take the piss.


Age, intelligence, knowledge and experience is no defence against talking to people as of they were a neighbours cat which had just shit in your bed.
 

victor meldrew 

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I can smell the bile from here .
:chillpill::chillpill::chillpill::chillpill:s all round I think :D

John Wilkinson
 

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