I've gone out and hefted my hives, and the rundown is like this:
- The Carniolans in Wilde seem to be very heavy with stores, I can barely lift the back of the boxes. There is still a bit of mite drop;
- The mixed-but-mostly Carnie colony in Twain needs more food, but is not at great risk. Some deformed bees are showing up, leading me to believe that they may be into the stores that have some virus in them. Low mite drop;
- The Carniolan mill bees are kind of light and are still taking syrup. Worrisome mite situation;
- The Italians in the Doug colony at the Monastery are a little light, but doing well for mites. Taking feed slowly, as usual;
- The Carnies in MaryEllen are more vibrant, but could still use a bit more stores.
When at loose ends, I make food for the girls. This photo shows what 10 pounds of sugar looks like in about 5 pints of water, just out of the kettle. It's cloudly, and must be stirred for a while. The water must be hot to make such a super-saturated solution, and I boil it before pouring. You must never heat the sugar directly on the burner, however, because the bees cannot digest carmelized sugar and can get potentially deadly dysentery in that manner.
In just ten minutes or so, the mixture becomes crystal clear. It has to cool before you use it, and once it does you sometimes get little floes of sugar ice floating on the top. It helps that my counters are stone and this pot is a thin, cheap one, because I can move it around on the countertop to make it cool faster.
This is about what I would give to one hive of bees in my usual hivetop feeder. The time it takes for the bees to eat it or store it varies with the temperament of the bees and the time of the year. Some hives don't seem to like to be fed, like Frances over at the monastery, or Wilde in the late autumn. I have a small ace in the hole stored in the basement, one medium with some half-filled combs, ready to be placed on top of a hive in need in February. These combs were pulled along with full ones during the honey harvest, one or two per hive riding along in honey supers that were mostly full. When I can no longer feed syrup, or if the girls refuse any candy frames they might get, at least I know that those may do the trick.