I mix 5 parts of sugar with 3 parts of boiling water, mix it until its
transparent and wait until it cools down to at least 36'C before
feeding to the bees. I use refined beet sugar.
I feed the bees with syrup through inverted jars placed behind the follower board
I dislike feeding sugar to the bees. In case of emergency is fine with me but not if the nectar flow is strong. This year the nectar flow was very strong and yet the bees didn't make that much honey. Why? Can it be that they don't need as much? Can it be that bees don't need much honey for the winter? If so, is it possible that bees raise less workers for the winter, or less workers during the late summer/early autumn? Less worker bees = less honey consumption. Makes sense.
It is known as a fact that bee colonies CAN survive the winter on ONLY 2 combs. My bee inspector does it every year. Less bees + Less honey = makes sense. He does keep 4 small colonies in a single box divided by thin plywood walls and each colony has only 2 combs. OK, they warm each other you might say and that is very likely so BUT this does not change the fact that THAT THEY DO survive on ONLY 2 combs :) and they develop into strong colonies the following year (my bee inspectors experience).
Lets hypothesise a bit more;
If I feed the bees with lots of sugar syrup in August I create false nectar flow. Bees can feel the amount of evaporation from honey production within the hive and the Queen start laying more eggs to create a stronger working force hence the colony ending up with lots of bees before the winter. We call this a "strong" colony and we beekeepers presume that such colony can survive the winter well.
More bees = more mouths to feed = more food needed.
Lets be reminded that my bee inspector who kept bees for more than 50 years overwinters small colonies on only 2 combs regularly (every year). He also has large colonies of course these small ones are just tiny splits he did or a Queen Bank.
I have noticed in my top bar hives that bees take a short break from brood raising at the end of the nectar flow. Why do they do this? For almost 2 weeks I couldn't see any new eggs nor larvae and then the Queens resumed to lay eggs. What is this break for? Is it hygienic? To slow down Varroa? I also observed bees grooming each other on the last brood comb (observation window).
They also started evicting Drones in July. Too early you might say, but wait, could this too be a hygienic treat? Less Drones at this time results in less Varroa flying into the hive on Drone backs and less Drone pupae the less Varroa (which prefers the large drone cells) will come to life.
I just cant seem to get it out of my head, the fact that my bee inspectors father had a tiny cast swarm move into one of his empty skeps in July. He left them there assuming they will die anyway during the winter. But to his great surprise they started flying in the early Spring :) When he looked into the skep he saw several tiny combs with a handful of bees on them :) They survived the winter! Its a fact! How? I don't know, but bees sure know how they did it.
Next year I will try and make a small split and let them develop without any interference on my part. I will give them only 2 combs (1 honey and 1 capped brood) and will not feed them before the winter. They will get a Virgin Queen so I will only make sure to check if she is mated properly. They will be kept all the time on 2 combs by containing them with a follower board. I want to test and see if they can survive the winter this way.
My hypothesis is that if they know from the start that this is all the space they have they will accordingly adjust their biorhythm to it. Less space - Less food - Less bees raised to be fed.