Always remember that if we have a late spring, or a cold August / September then colonies may start to run out of food. Always be aware of the food levels in your hives or the bees risk starving to death.
Its always advisable to check the food levels by opening the hive and making a very quick observation on their store levels. Key points to remember are:
- The colony may still have stores available which are at the other end of the brood chamber to the cluster of bees. If there are ‘empty’ frames between the two then the bees could still starve, despite food being in the chamber. Move the frames of food directly next to the outer frame where the cluster resides, ensuring that you score each frame of food (not excessively, but enough to stimulate feeding). Be sure not to knock or roll the bees when doing this and to be as quick as possible.
- If the colony has little or no frames of food then give them a block of candy or fondant. You want to aim for about 2.5 kg per hive and although this may seem to be a great expense, it is far less than the money you will have wasted should the bees die. In the winter the bees may need 12.5Kg of fondant.
- Mini plastic bags that are used to store loose fruit in from the supermarket are perfectly acceptable for holding the fondant and cost nothing. Pack the candy in the bag and then pierce holes in the appropriate place once you get to the hive. If the bag seems fragile then you can double bag it (just be sure to pierce both bags).
- During April you might want to start feeding sugar syrup but with low temperatures it might be too cold. Place the fondant directly above the bees, turning the crownboard if necessary so that one of the porter bee escape holes is above the cluster.
Please be aware that this should be done as quickly and carefully as possible and although it may seem too cold to open the hive now, it is far better to do so knowing the bees are ok than not to and find later that they have died.
Beware of starvation risk in September, a little fondant can tie them over untill the Ivy flowers. Where can I buy fondant?