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How to Feed Honey Bees

Last Updated: 02.07.22


If you are in desperate need of a beehive kit and you are looking for help selecting one, we have prepared a list of products and a comprehensive buying guide. So, to save time, check it out here.

Because bees are always an interesting subject, we are here to talk to you about how you can feed honey bees!


When to feed bees?

Ideally, honeybees have sufficient pollen and they do not need to be fed. Still, there are circumstances when bee owners have to provide their bees with extra food so that they do not die. Usually, this happens with colonies that are new or when there is not enough pollen around. During winter, a colony of bees needs around 60 pounds of honey to survive.

Autumn feeding

Because in the fall crops of honey are removed from the hive, bees have to be fed so that they have sufficient food to get through the winter. You should not feed your bees at the same time when you apply varroacides, as this will most likely increase the risk of robbing.

To be sure that these situations are avoided, it is advisable that you read the varroacide directions provided by the seller.


Emergency feed

If bees are near the point of starvation, feeding is also essential. Situations where bees face starvation can occur throughout the year. Because of this, it is vital that a beekeeper checks the quantity of food that the bees have available on a regular basis.

In extreme cases when bees are out of food and near death, it is advisable that you spray them with a thin syrup solution and that you fill their comb with extra syrup. Dry sugar can also be fed in these circumstances.

If your bees are near starvation, it is best that you first feed them syrup before giving them dry sugar. This way, the bees will be provided with food that can be immediately consumed and that does not need to be liquefied.

The dry sugar that remains in the hive should not be taken out before the collection of the first honey crop.


Spring feeding

In March and April, bees usually use up all their food supplies to produce offspring. To encourage them to rear brood, you should also provide your colonies with pollen feed. Also, make sure that they have access to a water source.


What to feed them?

The best option that you have is to feed bees their own honey. If possible, you should avoid giving your bees honey from other hives as it might contain diseases. So, you have to pay extra attention to the source of the honey if you care about the wellbeing of your bees.

When giving any source of food to your bees, it is vital that you avoid leaving it in the open, as this will most likely attract bees from nearby colonies. Instead, place the food inside the hives.


Sugar syrup

Sugar syrup is another alternative that you might want to try out. Making sugar syrup is very easy as you just have to mix one part water and one part sugar. The water should be heated until it reaches the boiling point. Once this happens, remove the pot from the heat source and add the sugar. Stir the mixture until all sugar crystals are dissolved.

Under no circumstances should you boil the mixture. If the sugar gets caramelized, the bees are not able to digest it properly. If the syrup that you make is indigestible, it can prove toxic to the bees.

Before you actually feed the syrup to the colony, it is recommended that you let it cool at room temperature. The syrup can be fed to the bees in four different ways.

First, you can use a container that has a sealable lid. So, take a clean jar that has a push-down lid and fill it with sugar syrup. Next, drill 6 to 8 small holes in the lid. Then, from a piece of wood, cut two 0.47-inch high risers and put them across the top bars of the frames that are placed in the top part of the hive.

Invert the container and lay it on the already installed risers. An empty super should be placed on the hive so that the feeder is perfectly enclosed.

Secondly, you can use a plastic bag. To start, partially fill a plastic freezer bag with sugar syrup and squeeze it so that all remaining air is expelled. Use an elastic band to tie the neck of the bag.

Then, place it on the top bars of the hive. Use a small nail and punch six to eight holes in the upper part of the bag. Similarly, you can use a shallow tray or a frame feeder to get the job done.

Honey tea

Honey tea is another kind of food that you can feed to your bees. This is a mixture of water and honey, as well as some herbs and salt or sugar. There are numerous recipes of honey tea that you can use.

So, if you find this kind of food interesting, be sure to go online and check some highly-reviewed ones out! After you prepare the tea, you just have to pour it in a jar and then place it inside the hive.


Already-made food

If you are a novice, and you do not have the experience needed to make food for the bees yourself, you can always go online and shop for already-made food. Most manufacturers have a good understanding of the needs of bees and they generally formulate their products accordingly.

Before you order any product of this kind, it is best that you read the reviews so that you can tell whether or not a specific kind of food is efficient or not.

What is more, most of the foods that you can get online come with feeding instructions. So, you will surely know how to administer them correctly.


Feeding water

To make, process, and store food, bees also need to be given water. Water is also useful to bees because it can help them maintain a certain level of humidity inside the hive so that the eggs laid by the queen can hatch. When the water is stored outside the hive, bees will use their honey sacs to carry it inside.

If your bees do not have a natural water supply such as a river nearby, you have to provide them with water. To do so, you can acquire water feeders from manufacturers that construct devices of this kind.

If you do not want to invest in a water feeder, you can find step-by-step instructions on how to construct one from scratch online or in beekeeping manuals.

Bees are usually interested in getting water that is warmer than 64 Fahrenheit degrees. They are also attracted to urine because of the salts that it contains. With this in mind, before you place the water feeder inside the hive, some experts say that it is best that you add some salt into it.

Water is very important for bees to have access to. So, you should make sure that they never have to search for it!


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