Bee-Sitting

My friend will bee-sitting for us about a week. In preparation I gave the last bit of sugar syrup before the colony should be able to provide for themselves. As you can see one hive is doing better than the other. When I return I will have them named for better reference. My methodology of feeding is a baggie-feeder. A lot of beekeepers use top-bar feeders with Langstroth hives. However I needed to go a more frugal/thrifty route. Although the price range doesn’t seem too steep, only getting up to $28 plus shipping, the bees arrived much sooner than I had anticipated. See the Ziploc bag below? That’s it!

Two parts sugar to one part water for the spring feeding is inside a freezer baggie to put on top of each hive. This is typically the ratio for fall feeding, however since it has been so cold I chose the thicker syrup. The bees didn’t mind. Due to size I needed to add a super so that none of the bees were squished when I placed the baggie on top of the frames. The inner cover did not have enough room for the syrup filled baggie. It has worked well the last month or so.

 

Here is what worked well:

  1. I used a toothpick to poke holes in the baggie to let syrup seep out slowly. A lot of articles say to slit it with a razor, that seemed intimidating to me.

  2. The bees consumed all the syrup within a week’s time. There were a few drops to spare, so I believe changing the baggie weekly

    worked out perfectly. I kept wanting to peek inside the hives, however was encouraged to wait at least a week between inspections by every article out there about beekeeping as well as seasoned beekeepers. Some beekeepers even said to wait a few weeks in between inspections. Due to my leaving for a work-trip I couldn’t take the chance of them swarming while away, so I had to do another inspection. *More on this later*.

  3. No bees drowned in the baggie feeder. It also didn’t squish any of them.

Here is what went wrong:

  1. The bees built comb on top of the baggie feeder in hive two. They are really robust. This created a beautiful structure that I can use for candles or balm, however I wanted them to build within the frames so I can get a stronger colony. Thankfully no brood were in the comb that was built, however anything built on top of the frames needs to be cut down.

  2. The second baggie feeding I must have poked all the way through the Ziploc because it sunk between frames. The frames that the bag went in between did not have any growth. No brood. No larvae. This was Hive 1; not as strong of a colony.

  3. I put the second baggie of feed on each hive when the weather wasn’t optimal. We have had a cold-spell lately and it has most definitely affected both colonies. They haven’t been leaving the hive in the rain and cold to collect pollen and have been relying on the syrup. I now know only to work with the hives in 60+ degree weather. Unfortunately I think this greatly impacted Hive 1, which was already working at a lesser pace than Hive 2.

Here is what I will do differently with the last bags of sugar syrup:

  1. Only work in 60+ degree days, mid to late evening.

  2. Make sure I am only making holes in the top of the Ziploc.

  3. Put medium supers on the hive to make room for the Ziploc baggie feeder instead a large super in hopes of having less wax build-up.

  4. When working barehanded with the sticky syrup it attracted bees to my skin. No stings! Just felt funny. I read about having alcohol spray to clean up sticky-stuff. I will definitely do that in the fall when my bees need more syrup.

Not everyone uses syrup to feed their bees. Some people I talked to let their bees feed off of honey, some don’t feed their bees at all.

Upstate is ready for better weather. Think warm thoughts.

soveryemily

Hiya! My name’s Emily. I live in upstate New York as a hobby beekeeper in the suburbs. I love Spring, smiling, apples with peanut butter and creating beautiful things.