Feeding Bees Sugar Water (& More) – Why, When, How
Is feeding bees a good thing or a bad thing? Opinions vary a bit but I am sure that a hungry bee would have a firm opinion. A bee colony should not need constant feeding. However, there are times it can be a life saver.
In good beehive management there will come a time to consider feeding bees sugar water.
When should you consider giving your bees extra food? Well, when they need it.
Seriously though, new colonies can benefit greatly from sugar water. If the feeder is inside the hive, they are able to eat over night and during rainy days.
Blooming plants do not always produce nectar. A time of drought with very little rainfall can cause the flowers to be dry. The bees however are still hungry.
Feeding does not take the place of real plant nectar. However, in times of a nectar dearth, feeding sugar water saves colonies.
A guide to feeding honey bees sugar water. The why, when and how of feeding bees. Different sugar water concentrations are used depending on the needs of the colonies. Ratios and recipes to help you feed your bees.
Outside or community feeding is not the best option for feeding honey bees. The weaker colonies don't get as much as they need and you end up feeding every wasp in the neighborhood. However, it is a technique that is used in certain situations. Make your own bucket feeder for bees .
Failure to feed a new package of bees properly is one of the most common beehive management failures. New hives have a lot of work to do. Providing sugar water inside the hive, is one way to ensure your new bees have a constant supply of food - regardless of the weather!
New beekeepers often fail to prepare colonies for Winter until it is too late. Checking the amount of Winter stores in your hives should be done in late Summer. Don't wait until cold weather arrives to realize your beehives are not ready for Winter.
In spite of good plans for preparing colonies for Winter, things happen. This emergency method of feeding bees in Winter is not a substitute for good Winter prep. However, it can save colonies that get caught in a prolonged cold snap.
Feeding Bees Pollen
Honey bee colonies must have pollen. Without pollen no baby bees will be produced. As the only protein source for the colony, pollen must be stored in late Fall. This stored pollen is used to rear young in January and February.
Instructions for a DIY pollen feeder. Dry pollen is often fed to bees during a time when natural pollen is not abundant. It is easy to make your own pollen feeder.
Pollen patties placed inside the hive gives a boost to late Winter colonies. The advantage of patties is that the bees don't have to leave the hive to reach them.
The disadvantage of pollen patties applies to those of us who live in regions with Small Hive Beetles. The beetles can turn pollen patties into nurseries resulting in a beetle population explosion.
Experience is the key to understanding the rules of feeding your hives. Local weather conditions, colony health and strength etc – all play a role.
If you are constantly feeding your hives, something is wrong. However, giving a colony nutrition when they have a great need is never a bad thing.
Sugar water in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio is the most common type of food offerred to our bees. There may be times of the year when you need to offer them pollen as well.
Always take care and ask other beekeepers before feeding your bees anything else. Some items that bees will consume are not good for them.
Whether you offer them sugar water, pollen or other supplements, learn when to feed, why you are feeding and when to stop.