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When should I switch from feeding syrup to fondant?

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Beeconfused 

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I have three hives and since extracting my honey Supers in August and completing my varroa treatments I have fed my bees with Ambrosia syrup for the last month.
They have taken it well but have now slowed down.
Is now the time to stop feeding syrup and replace it with fondant for the rest of the Winter?
Any advice or guidance will be gratefully received.
 

Amari 

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I have three hives and since extracting my honey Supers in August and completing my varroa treatments I have fed my bees with Ambrosia syrup for the last month.
They have taken it well but have now slowed down.
Is now the time to stop feeding syrup and replace it with fondant for the rest of the Winter?
Any advice or guidance will be gratefully received.
What I do (there's rarely any tablets of stone in these matters):
Feed an average strength colony with about 12kg of syrup in September. The bees probably supplement this with ivy honey.
That will keep most colonies going through until March. Mid winter I start hefting weekly and any hive that feels light gets fondant in a shallow eke. The main risk of starvation is late Feb onwards when the Q starts laying and consumption of stores rises.
The only snag for a beginner: it takes experience to judge a hive by hefting! However if you start hefting now you should be skilled enough to detect a light hive by the New Year.
 

Swarm 

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Have you hefted/weighed the hives and do they feel heavy enough? If they have enough stored away, they may not even require fondant. If Winter drags on and/or stores are dwindling, add fondant as emergency feed to see them through this period.
Some advocate slapping a big slab of fondant on as the only feed.
 

Beeconfused 

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Great advice. Thanks you for your replies. I have never hefted a hive, I’ll give it a try.
 

Swarm 

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Lift one side, including the floor, you only need a slight pivot to assess the weight so don't lift it too high. Repeat for the other side and add both for a rough total weight.
I always imagine picking it up and how difficult that would be.
 

thorn 

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I find luggage scales useful for this. I can keep an ongoing record of the weights, and can look back at them the following year.
 
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I find luggage scales useful for this. I can keep an ongoing record of the weights, and can look back at them the following year.
Yes ... I weigh my hives as you can then fairly accurately track their progress but I also heft ... the way I was taught ... If you can lift the hive with one finger they are starving, two fingers they need watching, three fingers or more and you struggle to lift they are fine. You are only tipping up one side remember and pivotting it on the other side.

I have screw eyes on either side of my hive stands so I can just attach a big set of scales to them with a hook and it's very easy to get the weight on either side and add them together.
 

gmonag 

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Anyone made hive scales like those?
Yes me, that is my video. Not difficult to make. It uses digital parcel scales.
The stand is just my cheap solution. The scales will work with any single stand. You do need a flat base though, such as a flagstone.
 

HughMann 

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Yes me, that is my video. Not difficult to make. It uses digital parcel scales.
The stand is just my cheap solution. The scales will work with any single stand. You do need a flat base though, such as a flagstone.
Excellent, thanks
 

Hachi 

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Trying to be mind numbingly accurate when trying to weigh bees with scales is a lot of faffing therefore hefting can provide a rough order of magnitude to the amount of stores a hive probably has at the point of hefting. Doing it regularly with your own bees and eqpt configuration you should notice hives getting lighter in weight as the bees devour their stores through the winter. The earlier in the winter they are getting lighter indicates the need for action. i.e putting fondant on. Some hives will take longer to consume stores the fondant goes on later its as simple as that. There will be those that come along and like to try and accurately weigh and thats up to them. Me, I prefer to be more productive with my time like others on here.

KISS... The objective is to calculate hive weight so as to identify when you need to feed to stop your bees starving........ simples.
 
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Trying to be mind numbingly accurate when trying to weigh bees with scales is a lot of faffing therefore hefting can provide a rough order of magnitude to the amount of stores a hive probably has at the point of hefting. Doing it regularly with your own bees and eqpt configuration you should notice hives getting lighter in weight as the bees devour their stores through the winter. The earlier in the winter they are getting lighter indicates the need for action. i.e putting fondant on. Some hives will take longer to consume stores the fondant goes on later its as simple as that. There will be those that come along and like to try and accurately weigh and thats up to them. Me, I prefer to be more productive with my time like others on here.

KISS... The objective is to calculate hive weight so as to identify when you need to feed to stop your bees starving........ simples.
My fifth winter, and hefting hasnt always been good enough, so I weigh my hives both sides it gives me more of a difinitive answer, and I can work out what I need to feed in turms of fondant /syrup etc..

I've colonys that are very frugal and by hefting I couldn't tell there weights, so weighing with luggage scales is a perfect and easy way to tell how heavy they are, I recommend and teach my mentorees to use scales as they can have a leason on learning to weigh empty boxes and then full hives.

The maths involved in working out how many stores a colony needs is very simple, and every new bee should be shown how to weigh with scales... I think gauging the weight of a hive by hefting comes with experience and even now I struggle to compare.

Using luggage scales IMHO is definitely a kiss method... Also I've found that most of the time one side of the hive weighs different to the other, some times by as much as 5 kgs.

Having a few colonys I need to know my weights for feeding, over feeding isn't an option, and could be rather a waste of time and money.

Just to illuminate... In the past I've over feed a colony which came out of winter a bit small and excess frames were removed to make space for the Queen to lay... About 40kgs was feed to a colony via syrup before the first full moon in Oct, I learned that over feeding can happen very easily and just ad lib feeding is OK if controlled to the required amount you need to feed.
Just my thoughts "good morning".
 

Hachi 

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What ever method you choose is ultimately fine. If you bees starve using "your" method then it needs changing. I know plenty of beefarmers just give 20Kgs of feed to each hive and that's it. nothing more nothing less.
 
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What ever method you choose is ultimately fine. If you bees starve using "your" method then it needs changing. I know plenty of beefarmers just give 20Kgs of feed to each hive and that's it. nothing more nothing less.
I've done this Hachi this autumn with some hives, I've also not had to feed 12 colonys out of 35 because they were left heather and the ivy has been brilliant thus far.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Trying to be mind numbingly accurate when trying to weigh bees with scales is a lot of faffing therefore hefting can provide a rough order of magnitude to the amount of stores a hive probably has at the point of hefting. Doing it regularly with your own bees and eqpt configuration you should notice hives getting lighter in weight as the bees devour their stores through the winter. The earlier in the winter they are getting lighter indicates the need for action. i.e putting fondant on. Some hives will take longer to consume stores the fondant goes on later its as simple as that. There will be those that come along and like to try and accurately weigh and thats up to them. Me, I prefer to be more productive with my time like others on here.

KISS... The objective is to calculate hive weight so as to identify when you need to feed to stop your bees starving........ simples.
:iagree: it's fine if you are setting up one hive to have a 'micro - weighing' system if you want to spend a season/winter monitoring weight changes whether out of sheer curiosity or as part of a 'scientific' study, so that you are educating yourself as to what to expect in future years. But for practicality, hefting IMHO is the only way. Fair enough, as a beginner, set uf a luggage scale weighing system as an aid, but all the while you should be hefting and comparing to scale weights so that in a few seasons hefting will be sufficient, and all you'll need.
 

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