Late Autumn, and Still Feeding Bees

The mild weather has allowed my bees to get out and forage, which is useful, as they are light on food. The colonies did not build up well, due to the lack of forage during the Summer, and I was late to start feeding. Having removed the feeders last week, with not enough food being taken down, I had hoped that the bees would bring some Ivy nectar, but that has not been the case. The future for my late season forage is shown below.

Chinese Mint Bush

Chinese Mint Bush

The flowers in these pictures are Elsholtzia Stauntonii, or chinese mint bush. There are some more pictures HERE.

Chinese Mint Bush

Chinese Mint Bush Flower

I only have about half a dozen of these planted out, and about the same amount in pots sown this year. Having seen bees working it, I shall grow lots more, for planting in the Forest Garden, and in the Coppice woodland. They do produce some flowers the first year, but that is increased in year two.

Below is the Strawberry tree, or Arbutus unedo. I have three small plants, which flowered for the first time last year, but did not set fruit. These have been worked by bumble bees during the mild weather.

arbutus unedo

Strawberry Tree

The reason for the lack of honeybees may be due to the proliferation of the white plastic flowers shown below. These are the latest versions of my station feeders. A small inverted feeder, perched over a flower arrangers wet block, which has been cut down to the height of the tray below.

Station Feeder for bees

Station Feeder for bees

The blocks come much deeper, and sit proud of the trays, but I cut them down, and then poke the block full of holes with a pencil. As well as taking food directly from the feeder, as shown in the picture below, I fill the tray, and block full of syrup, which soaks in. the bees cannot drown in the liquid, as they can grip the sides of the holes, and many of them just suck the fluid straight from the foam itself.

Station Feeder for bees

Station Feeder for bees

I have three set up like this. The first day was quite slow, but the numbers of bees built up, and for the last three days there have been bees out at the site as early as 8.30, despite still being cool at that time.  My next job is to create a table and roof for them, so that I don’t have to bring them in every time that it rains.

Station Feeder for bees

Station Feeder for bees

Late feeding is not always a good thing.  It can lead some queens to continue to lay, and the newly hatched bees, three weeks later, may not be able to leave the hive to empty, due to the weather. this can lead to dysentry, and hygiene problems. For me, knowing that my bees are short of food, and as I introduce my varroa treatment via the feed. I felt that it was worth the risk.

Take Care

 

Deano

4 thoughts on “Late Autumn, and Still Feeding Bees

  1. A Life Less Simple

    As a new bee keeper it would be very interesting to read a post about what your bees feed on and when in the year they use it as feed. We are trying to build up our garden to provide them with enough food but it isn’t always easy to plan/know what is best when and I know you are doing the same but a few years a head of us

    Reply
    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Poppy.
      There should be quite a bit that you will find useful in some of the earlier posts. Take a look through, and if you want some more info, I’ll do something in the new year.
      All of the best
      Deano

      Reply
  2. Andy Collins

    Hi Deano,

    Congratulations on your excellent site! I found it while looking for early and late forage plants for bees in the UK, and the info and practical advice you provide is excellent – all backed up by observations about what the bees actually visit.

    I was inspired to take up Warre beekeeping by David Heaf’s article in Permaculture Magazine which I gather you suggested he write – so I have you to thank for that too! I’ve been reading back through your posts paying particular attention to the ones on the place of beekeeping in Permaculture.

    As you must be one of the more experienced beekeepers currently using Warre hives alongside Nationals in the UK, I wondered whether you could do a post sometime on your experience with Warres vs Nationals so far? Things like how they compare in terms of colony longevity, management, their ‘fit’ with Permaculture ideals etc would be really interesting.

    Many thanks again for sharing everything you are doing!

    Andy (Scotland)

    Reply
    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Andy
      Thanks for the kind comments.
      I’ve neglected the blog a little, having been seduced by FaceCrack, or CrackBook. I havesome stuff to put up soon.
      A comparison would be dificult, as I have too many experiment running side by side, including the essential oil/varroa test, three different types of hive, and more.
      The fit with Permaculture is really cool. I suggested the PM article as many of my permaculture friends were instantly attracted to the Warre system, whereas most of my beekeeping friends were not.
      I will do my best.
      Thanks for reading
      Deano

      Reply

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