Ask Michael Bush - Feeding Bees

Natural beekeeping pioneer Michael Bush has agreed to be a guest blogger with us this late summer/fall. For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, take a look at his website Bush Farms.

If you have to feed late in the fall (late October/early November), what is your preferred method to do so?

In my climate I could have two feet of snow on the ground in October. I would be feeding now, if I were feeding. Once the nights fall below 50 degrees (F) and the days don't get much above that point, the bees can't take the syrup as it never gets up to the required 50 degrees.

As far as method, I have pretty much every kind of feeder and use them all because I'm too cheap to buy new ones. But most of mine are bottom board feeders because they are essentially free since I have to buy a bottom board anyway.

But typically in an outyard I just do dry sugar.

I wonder about the cost-effectiveness of feeding... Between time, energy (fuel, etc), and materials, how can this be more cost effective than just leaving a proper portion of honey and pollen at the end of the season?

The people who talk about how cost effective it is typically just compare the price of sugar or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) to honey and that is their justification. They don't seem to calculate the fuel, time, sugar and work it takes to make all that syrup, haul it to the yards, feed it, set off robbing with it, invite the ants in with it, haul the feeders around and gather them up for storage etc.

More information on these topics on the Bush Farms website:
Bottom Board Feeders
Feeding Bees Dry Sugar
Profit Formula

Got a question for Michael? Send it to beehumans[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll get a bunch answered in subsequent posts.