Feeding Honeybees in Winter

We discussed winter prep a little during our meeting last night.  Here are some Feeding options from Mother Earth News

Sometimes it is necessary to feed honeybees through the winter which can be accomplished by several methods. That is the position we find ourselves in here on Five Feline Farm after two colonies have struggled through the fall with apparent robber bees.

A colony of honey bees needs 30 to 60 pounds of honey stored going into winter. This is the equivalent of 8 to 9 full frames. This provides enough to keep the cluster alive through winter and early spring until the nectar starts to flow again.

Even during a cold winter, there will be opportunities to open the hive for a quick addition of food. My hope is to have at least one viable day each month or so when the temperature hits near 50 degrees to slip some food into the hive.

The choice then becomes what method or medium to use in delivering food for the cluster. Below are the options we have tried or considered along with my opinion about each. The first two are proprietary mixes available for order from bee supply companies.

Winter Patties

These are one of those proprietary mixtures available from a major bee supply house dadant.com.  The patties come smeared between pieces of waxed paper. It is gooey and smells a bit like molasses. The catalog description states extra ingredients that will help the bees build up in the spring is part of the mix. The patties are placed in the hive directly on top of the brood frames waxed paper and all. A two inch spacer is added to allow room for the bees to access the patties. After chewing through the patties, the bees tear the waxed paper into pieces if not removed by the bee keeper and throw it out the entrance.

These patties are nutritious for the bees and a good supplement, but I find them messy and awkward to use.

Candy Boards

Again, a proprietary mixture available through a Central Illinois business honeybeesonline.com. This is a semi-solid sugar mixture poured into a board that doubles as an inner cover. Included in the sugar is some pollen and an essential oil mixture called Honey B Healthy. The board design includes ventilation and insulation built in. The entire board is placed over the top brood box with the sugar side facing the bees. Included is a simple recipe for replacing the sugar foundation as needed.

An advantage with the candy board feeding system is that it is all one unit. This will be very helpful when it is time to change out the candy boards. The hive can be open for a minimal amount of time, pull out the empty board and place a full one.

Sugar Blockssugar pan

These are easy to make at home. Using the formula of one cup water to one pound of granulated cane sugar, bring water to a boil and stir in the sugar. Bring the mixture to the soft ball stage (234°). Allow to cool stirring until it becomes cloudy. Pour into a mold. I used aluminum mini-loaf sized pans. After the fondant bricks have cooled, pop them out and store in a plastic bag with a zip seal until needed. If these start to dissolve, you may need to boil them again to reset. To use these in the hive, you will need a spacer board that holds the inner cover above the fondant blocks allowing room for the blocks to sit on top of the frames.

This method is relatively cheap and easy to do without ordering any supplies. The downside is that it can be messy and does not include any additional supplements to support bee health.

Granulated Sugar

An additional inexpensive method of feeding bees in winter is using plain granulated sugar. The hole of an inner cover is blocked with newspaper or a paper towel, moistened and a bag of sugar poured on to the cover. An empty super is placed around the sugar mound and topped with the outer cover. Bees will chew their way through the paper and consume the sugar.

This method will allow for a long term feeding option as 10 to 25 pounds of sugar can be added at one time. In areas where winters are harsh with no days reaching 50 degrees to quickly open a hive and add food, this may be the best option.

No matter the method chosen, if the bees do not have enough stored food for winter, it is critical that the beekeeper provide some type of food. Otherwise the colony will starve and you will find an empty hive in the spring.

original post: Feeding Honeybees in Winter – Homesteading and Livestock – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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September 2014 Meeting is Tonight!

meeting_roomIt is that time again. Our monthly Western Illinois Beekeepers meeting is tonight.

Items on the agenda:

  • Winter prep

Location:
Farm Bureau Building
1000 North Main Street
Monmouth, IL 61462

Date and Time:
09/16 at 7pm

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6 things you might not know about bees

Many of us, when we think about bees, probably think about their stings, how they pollinate flowers, and how bumblebees seem too fat to be able to fly. But there are a few unusual tidbits about our buzzing friends that you may not know about.

Continue reading: 6 things you might not know about bees | Fox News

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Honey Lemonade

lemonadeIngredients:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

  • Mix all together in a blender.
  • Let chill and then enjoy.

source: Recipe of the Week: Honey Lemonade, by T.C

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Loss Benefits Available to Beekeepers; Don’t Miss the Sign-up Deadlines

deadline-1This was mentioned at the July meeting.  Here are the details.

There is potential assistance available to you under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) authorized under the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) for eligible honey bee losses that occurred from October1, 2011, to present.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized $20 million each fiscal year for ELAP to provide emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honey bees and farm-raised fish. ELAP covers losses due to an eligible adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. More specifically, for honey bee losses, ELAP provides assistance for the loss of honey bee colonies in excess of normal mortality. Also, the program covers damage to honey bee hives and honey bee feed that was purchased or produced for eligible honey bees, including additional feed purchased above normal quantities to sustain honey bees until such time that additional feed becomes available.

ELAP sign-up began at local FSA service centers on April 15, 2014, for eligible honey bee losses suffered during 2012, 2013 and 2014 program years (losses occurring on or after October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2014). If you have suffered 2012, 2013 or 2014 honey bee losses, you must submit an application for payment and a notice of loss to the local FSA office that maintains your farm records; however, if the local FSA office that maintains your farm records is not in close proximity to the physical location where the honey bee loss occurs, you may submit a notice of loss to the local FSA office in the county where the loss occurs.

The ELAP signup deadline for 2012 and 2013 program year losses ends August 1, 2014. For 2014 program year (losses occurring on or after October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014), sign-up ends November 1, 2014. Please contact you local FSA office for types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. FSA will use data furnished by you to determine eligibility for program benefits. Furnishing the data is voluntary; however, without all required data, program benefits will not be approved or provided.

For an Fact Sheet overview of the 2014 Farm Bill USDA ELAP program and beekeeper eligibility, you can access the FSA website: http://fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/elap_livestk_fact_sht.pdf

 

source: http://www.americanbeejournal.com

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The July 2014 Meeting is Tuesday

meeting_roomIt is that time again. Our monthly Western Illinois Beekeepers meeting is Tuesday.

Items on the agenda:

  • Open forum
  • Upcoming Picnic (7/19)
  • T-Shirt contest

Location:
Farm Bureau Building
1000 North Main Street
Monmouth, IL 61462

Date and Time:
07/15 at 7pm

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2nd Annual Picnic

Picnic2nd Annual Picnic is upon us!

Date & Time: July 19th at 2pm

Location: Charles & Cordelia Kaylegian’s Home (the same place it was last year)

Their home is a little over 4 miles straight east of Alexis.

Please bring a dish to pass, your own table wares, and lawn chairs if you have them. This will be potluck style.

Please call Cordie or Contact Us if you need directions.

 

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Logo / T-Shirt Design Contest

contestWestern Illinois Beekeepers has decided to design t-shirts for the association.  To make in fun for everyone we have also decided to make a contest out of it.

Here are the details: Continue reading

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The June 2014 Meeting is Tonight!

meeting_roomIt is that time again. Our monthly Western Illinois Beekeepers meeting is tonight.

Items on the agenda:

  • Open forum

Location:
Farm Bureau Building
1000 North Main Street
Monmouth, IL 61462

Date and Time:
06/17 at 7pm

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