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More advanced beekeeping discussion forum.
 #9355  by Patrick
 26 Oct 2020, 18:44
It is very noticeable in videos that our cousins across the pond in large operations seem to have a much more relaxed attitude to open or ad lib feeding. By this I mean provision of significant amounts of syrup (and pollen sub) in tubs, barrels or feeders that bees from multiple colonies can simultaneously access.

Conventional wisdom is that can lead to robbing, but is disputed. I could see it for Spring feeding but would hesitate for summer / autumn feeding as it would surely also create a wasp nightmare? And is the robbing issue another myth if all locally are being fed simultaneously?

Anybody done / do it?
 #9358  by NigelP
 27 Oct 2020, 12:27
I think open feeding over a considerable time frame in autumn is going to cause major wasp problems just about anywhere. The subject of open food sources is a bit taboo with people getting shouted down on other forums for even suggesting a difficult subject to come clean on /wry grin/

I must confess ....always good to get a good confession in :) ....that I use my bees to dry off my heather frames after extraction as they are all horribly sticky with heather honey. I wait for a nice day and stick them out about mid morning----all is quiet for about 30 minutes until the scours return to the hives, then it all goes mental for 30 minutes or so with bees flying everywhere looking for this nearby rich nectar source. Within 30 minutes they have all found it and cleaning begins in earnest. It does attract a few wasps, emphasis on few. Wasps are not good at communicating food sources to each other, so a few get there but not many.
By mid/late afternoon it's all over and the bees have finished. I remove the now dry and clean supers when it's dark. I've been "secretly" doing this for several years now and have never ever had any robbing started, even in some of the weaker nucs in the apiary. I'm not worried about other bees bringing in disease because there aren't any other bees in the area, and if there were they would have a hell of a job finding such a small area with a non floral food source on their travels.
I now expect to be soundly thrashed and told what a poor beekeeping practise this is.
Guess I'm thick skinned enough to not worry too much :D
 #9360  by Patrick
 27 Oct 2020, 14:29
I (inadvertantly) did similar with non-beeproof stacks of wet supers in my bee shed adjacent to my main apiary. Also when steaming out frames which transpired to have more honey in them than I had supposed. Temporary mayhem, which then calmed down. No robbing attempts seen. On another occasion I had a tarp from the back of my car which ended up covered in spilt honey. I spread it out near the hives expecting a huge bee fest and was amazed that whilst the majority was cleaned up there were several small pools of honey left untouched the next day.

The UoG videos quite clearly state feeding large apiaries with 10 x 40 gallon syrup barrels partly closed with straw floats to prevent drowning and the apiary manager specifically addresses (and dismisses) the robbing suggestion.
 #9529  by MickBBKA
 25 Nov 2020, 01:51
Having watched many youtube videos of keepers in the USA open feeding syrup and pollen I wonder if they have ever given thought to their 60% colony loses each year and spread of disease.
 #9530  by AdamD
 25 Nov 2020, 14:42
I have noticed that if I 'leave something out' or leave the shed door open (!) there is a lot of hive activity initially as bees come out and look for the source of food and try to get in neighbouring hives. Once they learn where the source of food is, the activity reduces around the hives. During this initial phase, robbing could well start. The answer would be to feed some distance from the hives so the waggle dance gives distance and direction and the bees don't hunt around the apiary.
As Mick points out, a feeding station could well be a source of disease transmission - a bit like a 'measles party' that apparently used to occur.
 #9537  by Chrisbarlow
 26 Nov 2020, 19:35
I leave wet supers out too. A non issue from what ive seen.

I have never actually open fed with syrup or pollen sub however I could be up for trying it.
 #9827  by Patrick
 20 Jan 2021, 18:03
Saw a video chat with the excellent Randy Oliver and he was asked about open feeding dry pollen sub in autumn. Not a practice widely done in the UK but more common in the US perhaps.

Interestingly (well to me, anyway), he said laboratory analysis of his combs after carrying out a trial of open feeding dry sub demonstrated that the bees stored the dry pollen as bee bread.

Unfortunately, the action of bees mixing it with enzymes etc to part ferment it, similar to storing natural pollen, seemed to act on it to make it problematic for bees to overwinter on. Other commercial beekeepers had reported to him colony losses having done it.

By contrast, pollen sub fed as a patty was consumed at the time and not stored, so no such problem arose.

What happened with dry open fed sub in Spring was not mentioned but maybe there was less incentive for the bees to store it in that context so the problem did not arise.

My take home was if trying pollen sub at a hobby level, stick to patties.
 #9832  by AdamD
 21 Jan 2021, 11:00
I've seen videos of open feeding in 'bee yards' where there is no natural forage at all. Maybe autumn open feeding is a contributory factor to the high losses experienced in N America. And the protential spread of disease is there too.
 #9841  by MickBBKA
 23 Jan 2021, 10:15
Also if you have ever left a sticky frame out and, I have, look at how many other bee types are attracted to it. Feeding side by side Honey bees, bumbles, solitary bees and wasps. It has to be a worry as a vector for crossing over parasites and pathogens to other species.