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Winter Feeding for Small Colony

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Ceph 

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Hi, I have two hives; one doing very well which I started in June (took no honey and have built up for next year) the second is a wild colony I took from a friends garden on comb in a honeysuckle hedge.

I gained this colony in approximately late August.

The comb was structured through a trellis and lots of branches etc, around the size of a football with six sheets of comb.

Two sheets were empty of stores and four I could not see as they where all fixed together.

I proceeded to attempt to build frames with the sections of comb in a nuc box and have subsequentley transferred them to a new hive.

They have sealed four frames together preventing me from veiwing their brood or stores and they have one frame I can veiw which they have full of stores on but only around 5-10% capped.

Its getting quite cold now and am concerned that if I keep giving them syrup they will not be able to evaporate the water and gain enough stores for winter, also understand it can fermet with too much water content.

I query would be what is the best scenario and method to feed a potentially weak colony so it does not starve over winter when the weather is getting cold?

If you have any other observations I would apprecaite it.

Thank you.
 

Skyhook 

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In terms of how much stores they've got- I've just bought a digital luggage scale (9.99) and some webbing, and am about to weigh my hiove to give me an idea for stores.

2 days ago I would have said fine for syrup, now it's turned colder probably better to feed fondant.
 

justme 

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I'd think fondant also now, even if the weather warms it wont matter. Good luck with them:.)
 

Hebeegeebee 

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If you want to try to keep it as a colony, it should be in the smallest box possible - so a 5 frame nuc rather than a 12 framer. Fondant over the feed hole. Sunny position, off the ground to allow for ventillation. Treat for varroa.
 

steve1958 

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We are still on heavy sugar syrup here in the south.
Though our weather is still mild.

The Bees are still out collecting stores as well bee-smillie
 

Heather 

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Steve- think we have had the best. Temp dropping now. I have just taken off the last syrup feeder. blocked cover boards and insulated. Any I am worried about will get fondant from now on
 

Ceph 

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Thanks for your advice.

I have fed both colonies fondant and have left the fondant in the hive for them.

What are the consequences for leaving fondant over winter in the hive?

I cant see any unless the queen keeps laying due to food supply and Varroa continues to build in numbers... ?

I am unsure if she keeps laying drone until food stops being brought in or its a temperature triggered occurence for her to stop laying them and drones to be kicked out.

p.s. I cant transfer the small colonie to a nuc box as that was temporarily borrowed and a nat. hive is smallest I could give them, so have filled it with frames to assist in making the space smaller.
 

Poly Hive 

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The queen is regulated by temperature and daylight hours, not food availability.

The only down side to feeding fondant on the top of the frames, is it can adhere slightly, making some effort with the hive tool necessary. *shrug* not a big deal. I use any left over for a light syrup in spring.

Your real concern should be that they have enough to get them through. I check mine fortnightly.

PH
 

MuswellMetro 

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Rather than filling the box out with empty fames you could use some polystyrene insulation instead.

This stuff is quite high density, so the bees don't chew it and reasonably priced

Knauf Space Board Insulation
agree, i use cling film over 4" kingspan cut to dummy board size, but i would not do it now, too cold to open up in London

barely above zero, and my hives in London NW7 have been down to minus 5c overnight in last few days and likely at least down to minus 2 or 3C tonight

if it get up to above 10c perhaps if you are quick, likely mid december before it does that,

i would just leave them , feed fondant and do a shook swarm in late March onto new foundation and Feed, feed , then with 1:1 syrup and a pollen substitute
 

nonstandard 

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At worst at the moment you could strap some insulation, kingspan or otherwise to the outside of the box to help keep the heat in. It will confuse the hell out of the woodpeckers too ;)
 

wightbees 

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How long is a piece of string
how about bubble wrap, i have seen this put around the hive.Does it work or a waste of time ?
 

Ceph 

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Just so you know I left a pack of fondant in each hive over winter for them.

I put the food on the crown board in a slim eke.

Can get a bit nippy when the wind picks up in the winter so during heavy snow I stappled felt over the void to the rear of the floor (where you slip the varroa floor in) which helped on one hive.

Other hive had a solid floor so didnt bother.

Only thing was that there was too much condensation and some mould appeared on top of crown board in felted hive, in hindsight I should of left one layer of felt instead of two and removed earlier.

But both hives survived and came through strongly, with no varroa or chemical treatment what so ever.

Result.

Thanks for the help.
 

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