Wednesday, March 25, 2015


At the recent club meeting we discussed feeding hives with sugar water avoid spring starvation and  to boost the hive population in time for the honey flow.  Last year I recorded the dates I first saw various flowers begin to bloom.  Will this years blooms arrive at the same time?

May 1st-first dandelions
May 16th-Birch catkins flowering
June 2nd-Saw Red and ladino clover blossoms (first real nectar source)
June 3rd-Black locust trees began blooming (blossoms faded by June 11th)
June 6th-Raspberries in bloom
June 8th-Recently planted yellow sweet clover started to bloom ( blooms complete by July 15th)
June 21st-Alfalfa blooming
June 22nd-Sumac in bloom (Bloom complete by June 28th)

I continued to see alfalfa and white sweet clover in bloom well into August.  Mid August is also the start of the goldenrod honey flow.

The point of this summary is that the main honey flow in this area doesn't begin until about June 1st.  If you backtrack from June 1st to account for the raising of brood and maturing of the young nurse bees to the field bee stage you could start feeding the hive in about mid April.   This will artificially stimulate a larger field bee force to be ready in time for the June 1st start of the honey flow.  Having a large field force already present could greatly boost your honey yield.  That's a strategy some beekeepers utilize.

Based on what I have read a 1:1 sugar syrup stimulates brood rearing and comb construction.  Thicker syrups (such as 2:1 or higher) tend to induce the bees to store the syrup without the brood rearing stimulation.

Feeding 1:1 sugar syrup prior to mid April may raise a large population earlier, but there won't be any nectar for this larger force to gather.  It is therefore a waste of your money and may induce the hive to swarm.  However, feeding 2:1 syrup in early spring is a good method to prevent early spring starvation.

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