My sermon today concerns the Land of Milk and Honey:
I called over to Castle Donington yesterday to see Tim to return a nuc box and we started discussing again winter feeding. We talked through various ideas of how to get the 'feed', in whatever form, near enough to the cluster without opening the hive at all. This obviously highlights two problems; firstly: any opening of the hive during wintertime will probably chill the bees sufficiently to negate the food/energy they then consume to re-heat themselves, secondly: the cluster will slowly move through their store area and will not return or move towards a food source that is too far away. So after trawling through the forum of the Natural Beekeeping Network I came across the following:
It is an interesting duscussion about many issues relating to winter feeding and the types of feed, but the thing that caught my attention was a very simple feeding method apparently used by 'traditional' beekeepers for many years. They dunk a bag of sugar in water until the paper is wet, but not too sodden, and then leave it on top of the frames. The bees then eat through the paper to access the sugar, and the initial damping plus any condensation hardens the outside of the packet. Come springtime it would be found that the bees had tunnelled throughout the sugar mass. This could be a simple and effective feeding method for TBHs with one addition. Unlike national frames top bars do not have gaps between them to allow bees free movement so they would either need spacers or probably more effectively 6-7mm holes drilled through the bars that can be plugged when not in use. A 1Kg bag of sugar could easily lay across several bars and allow easy bee access, without leaving the cluster, to a ready food source. Obviously the easiest time to think about doing this would be now as any disturbance would be less traumatic than in the depths of winter.
Thank you brothers and sisters. We will now sing Hymn 298 "I wanna go where the milk and honey flow".