starving bees

I have just been forwarded an email by Phil Sharman flagging up the fact that regional and seasonal bee inspectors are reporting starving bee colonies due to the atrocious weather conditions.  Particularly at risk, according to the email are ‘newly collected and hived swarms, which have not been fed following 24 hours after hiving’   It advises ‘hefting the hives’ to establish its weight and then deciding how much, if anything to feed.  i am a bit confused, as i thought that bees that have swarmed have usually gorged themselves ahead of swarming?  As we have captured a swarm today, I was wondering if anyone has any advice or comments on this matter.

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About melvin56

passionate about bees, permaculture and biodiversity.....and plymouth Argyle F.C.
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2 Responses to starving bees

  1. simplebees says:

    Swarms generally come gorged with honey. However, if they have been out in the cold and wet for several days (quite possible in this weather), they will have used this to keep warm and will be hungry. I have just come in from hiving a swarm that had been out for 4 days. The bees were dispirited and torpid and could hardly move. I hived them into a hive that already had a top feeder in place with warm 1:1 syrup. They took a lot of encouragement to move into the hive because they were close to exhaustion: none of the normal rush to the entrance.

    Colonies will sometimes swarm from starvation; a so-called hunger swarm. Moreover, with the changeable weather, it is quite possible that, while not actually starving, the parent colony may be so low on food that the swarm does not get properly ‘topped up’. Such swarms will also need immediate feeding.

    Another group that is ‘at risk’ is any split or colony that was already weak before the weather reverted to being cool and wet. Such splits or colonies will need feeding too. I have seen a couple of splits in the last day or two that had plenty of food a couple of weeks ago but now have virtually nothing.

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    • melvin56 says:

      Gareth, Thanks for your help. I can hear the rain lashing down outside and although our swarm couldn’t get into the warre quick enough today , I think that Harry and I will have to take the decision to feed our bees. We are reading up on all our options as to the best way to do this. Very best wishes, Melvin

      Sent from my iPhone

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