BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why feed bees?

When you get your bees from a "package" or from a "nuc" or nucleus hive made up from a beekeeper's growing and thriving hives, they often come with no drawn comb or honey stores. My nuc from Vermont filled five frames of partially drawn comb from their parent hive, but no honey stores.

Even though it was spring when they came and the maples were in bloom, then the apple trees, dandelions and lilacs, basswood trees (which bees love) soon followed; now there is a dearth before the next blooms appear.

For my over-wintered hive this means a lot of hungry drones and new brood. For my new 8 frame nucs who have yet to produce drones, it means the bees are scavengering for something to feed themselves as well as the new brood the queen is busy producing.

A common mistake new beekeepers make is to take what honey they see not realizing that the bees themselves depend on it for life and growth. That is why I will not take honey from my new hives - just the over-wintered hive, and then only when it appears they have everything under control and plenty to spare. Another reason for not taking honey off of a new hive that you are feeding sugar syrup to is that the honey will not be from nectar, but from sugar water. Yuk! Misses the whole point! Some commercial beekeepers feed corn syrup to bees. When you read that some honey bought in grocery stores is really corn syrup, it means the bees were fed corn syrup not that corn syrup was mixed in with the honey. Both actions are unacceptable in honey harvesting.

Took this photo on the morning of June 14th. You can see spring's first dandelions are done.

No comments: