Sugar Water for Honey Bees

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Several times a year, I find myself mixing up a recipe of sugar water for bees in my apiary. As a Master Beekeeper, I know that sugar water does not replace natural nectar nutritionally. But, it will sustain a colony that is low on food. Here I share the various ratios of sugar to water than I routinely use for my colonies and why I do it this way.

Honey bees collect sugar water provided by beekeeper.

Just remember, if you see someone pushing a cart full of sugar through the market, that person might be a beekeeper – we do get some funny looks. However, this is a labor of love and an important part of good hive management.

How to Make Sugar Water For Bees

Sugar water is made by dissolving regular white cane sugar in water in various concentrations.

As you learn the various methods of making sugar water for your bees, be prepared for some criticism. Some beekeepers feel that you should never feed your hives, period. Others recognize the importance of feeding bees when hives conditions warrant.

No matter what you choose, be prepared to have some well-meaning beekeepers at the local beekeeping association meeting to tell you that you are wrong!

Honey bees drinking sugar water from a bee feeder image.

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Bee Sugar Water Recipes

There are 2 basic recipes for bee sugar water commonly used by beekeepers. You can measure by weight or volume it does not matter – don’t overthink this part.

While it is not exactly the same nutritionally, it is very similar in sweetness and provides the bees with energy. Also, honey bees are accustomed to collecting liquid food.

1:1 Sugar Water

Mix equal amounts of granulated sugar and water to create a 1:1 syrup. You can measure with cups or use weight as the unit of measure. It does not matter because either method will result in a 1:1 mixture. Equal parts sugar – water.

2:1 Sugar Water

A 2:1 ratio contains twice as much sugar as water. For example, 8 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water. When using this mixture, use very warm water to dissolve the sugar easier. However, do not boil your bee syrup, this is not good and it is not necessary.

How to Make 1 Gallon of Sugar Water

I normally make larger amounts of sugar water for my bees – but for a couple of hives you make want to mix up only 1 gallon of liquid.

These measurements will get you close to a gallon of liquid in a 1:1 ratio. Do not stress over exact measurements. Even in the field, nectar sources vary a bit in sweetness.

  • 10 2/3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 10 2/3 cups of warm water
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Bee food recipe chart with ratios for feeding honey bees sugar water image.

How to Mix It Up

When making sugar water for your bees, it is important to only use white sugar. Never use molasses or brown sugar as this will make your colonies sick – or dead.

I like to add a feeding supplement to encourage uptake and help prevent syrup from becoming moldy. You can even use homemade supplement recipes – like using essential oils for bees.

These are thought to promote better bee health too. Be cautious, these products are concentrated- add only a small amount.

Sugar Water By the Season

Why are 2 different sugar water recipes/ratios used in feeding honey bees? I’m glad you asked. While both recipes provide carbohydrates, they have different effects on the honey bee colonies.

Bee larvae in honeycomb during Spring buildup.

Spring Feeding (for Buildup)

Spring is a time of growth as over-wintered colonies are busy raising new bee brood for the season. New hives that are started from installing bee packages (or captured swarms) are struggling to get their colony established.

Spring beekeeping is a busy time for bees and beekeeper. Could the colony benefit from some sugar water until abundant natural food is available? Feeding honey bees a 1:1 ratio, promotes brood rearing.

This thin mixture is closest to the sweetness of most natural nectars. With “new nectar” being placed in the comb, the bees are not afraid of starvation and are more likely to ramp up brood rearing.

This same method of feeding 1:1 applies to any time throughout the season when you have a colony in need of food. Perhaps a new split hive could benefit from some supplemental feeding.

Worker honey bee storing sugar water honey in comb.

Fall Sugar Water (Food Storage)

One of the best secrets to successful Fall bee feeding. is to get out there and get it done in late summer before the weather cools.

Poor foraging conditions in the Fall prevents storage of food for Winter survival. It is not uncommon to find hives that are not quite ready for Winter. The ratio of 2:1 sugar water promotes food storage. – perfect for Fall.

This mix is not as likely to encourage brood rearing and more likely to end up stored in comb. Of course, this will not be real honey but the colony will store it as such.

Remember, established colonies can usually survive on their own unless they have problems or experience nectar dearths. If you know that your hive has enough food stored for Winter-you don’t need to feed.

Expert Tips

  • supplemental feeding does not take the place of natural nectar and pollen
  • do not give bees sugar water without a reason – you can overfeed
  • always try to evaluate why the colony needs sugar water (weather conditions, low population, etc.)
  • The biggest mistake made by beekeepers is failing to feed a new colony long enough. T


What is sugar water?

Sugar water is made by dissolving regular granular sugar into water. Various ratios or sugar water recipes are used by beekeepers.

When should I start feeding bees sugar water?

Two situations when a beekeeper may need to provide supplemental food is for a new colony starting from scratch or established hives with insufficient food stores for any reason.

Should you feed hives made from bee packages?

If you purchase bees in a package, they arrive on the scene with no resources. They have  no drawn beeswax comb, food stores, or brood.

Begin feeding a new colony 1:1 sugar water immediately and continue until all of their comb is drawn out.

Why would my established hive need sugar water?

Problems with your queen honey bee, a late freeze that causes a nectar dearth and other issues can be very difficult – even for established hives.

Offering these colonies a helping hand can be the difference between a strong colony going into Winter or a weak one that is dead before Christmas.

Does feeding bees sugar water make them lazy?

Feeding bees does not make them lazy. In fact, honey bees prefer natural nectar when good sources are available. They may ignore your sugar water if food in the field is plentiful.

Can I feed my bees sugar water all year?

There will be times when you should stop feeding bees sugar water. These include the cold months of Winter (unless you are in a very warm climate) and when your honey collection supers are on.

When you add a honey super to your hive to collect honey for yourself – feeders should come off.

If my bees make honey from sugar water is it real honey?

The bees will use any nectar (or nectar-like substance) to make honey. Honey produced from sugar water instead of nectar – that’s a no no. And, its not real honey.

Does sugar water go bad?

Yes, sugar water you make for your bees can get moldy. Only make the amount your bees can use before it gets stale.

Final Thoughts

Providing sugar water for bees is a lot of work and expense (if you have more than one hive). You should not have to feed every colony all season. If this is happening, something is wrong. How much extra sugar water your hives require will depend on your climate and other conditions. Another reason to connect with local beekeepers.

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  1. Santo S Vinci Sr says:

    Thanks very informative always wondered when to stop feeding .. Old hive had swarm queen cells– I split/ two bottom deeps with queen excluder on top added two mediums w/ another queen excluder and another two shallow w/drawn frames.
    lower frame had brood and bees and honey from original hive. whats your opinion and what should expect. Thanks Santo used total 6 two/two /two

  2. Gary Thompson says:

    Why does feeding sugar water to a colony make the honey unsuitable for human consumption?

  3. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Its important to match the size of your hive (space inside) to the population of the colony. Unless you have alot of bees that sounds like alot of space for them to protect. After splitting a hive, always check in a couple of weeks to see if you have a laying queen in each part.

  4. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Feeding sugar water while your honey collection supers are on will result in bees making sugar water honey. Real honey contains enzymes and all kinds of neat things left over from the harvested plant nectar. Sugar water is as close to honey as we can get for the bees but it is not really honey. Feed bees when you need to but not when the supers are on for your harvest.

  5. Charlotte S. says:

    We have a new hive (local cut out) that is trying to produce a queen. They are eating a quart of 1:1 sugar water in less than 24 hours. The other two hives (Italian, with queens) are not eating their water that fast. Could the new hive be getting robbed even though there is still clover and they sugar water available to the other bees?

  6. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    They could be, do you see fight and wrestling at the front? Also, since their hive life has been disrupted by the cut out and move, they may not be taking advantage of the local nectar as well as the others. I would make sure the entrance of the cut out hive is reduced some to help them protect against robbers.

  7. We had our colony collaspe. I am having to give sugar water. The bees are going through a quart jar in two hours, should I be giving more.

  8. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Sandra, Usually when we say that a colony has collapsed it means it is dead. So I’m thinking that you have a weak colony or one that is low on food. What do to depends on where you live. It is 27 degrees at 3 PM in my area right now. But in general – when I am feeding bees that need fed, I would need more than a quart. Maybe use 2 or even 3 quarts at a time.

  9. I’m getting my very first package this weekend. I plan on using 1 gallon baggie feeders. My only concern is not being able to open the hive for the first 5-7 days. I’m not sure if 1-2 bags will last until I can open and check on the hive.

  10. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I used to use gallon baggies and liked them quite well. But you are right, they are a pain if you need to do inspections. You must be using a shim? If you lay the bags on the top bars you need a shim to hold the inner cover off the bag. IF you are putting them on the inner cover, you need a shim to hold the top off the bag. A bag or two would be fine for 5 days and if you put them on the inner cover you might be able to carefully move it (and them) in a few days if you need to.

  11. I am a newbie with a tbh and my bees are a new package (1 mo). I live in N TX and they are still going through a quart every 2 days. I’m told when they lose interest to stop, but they are not losing interest even though they are drawing comb like gang busters! I don’t know if I should drop down, stop and see or continue. I’m not concerned with human consumption, just keeping them fat and happy until something changes. They are great foragers and there is a lot of pollen comb. Should I continue for now?

  12. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I would continue. A tbh is a bit different – I dont know how much you need for Winter in your area. But since this is a new package of bees, I would not be quick to remove the feeder, especially since everything seems to be going so well.

  13. Hi charlotte and hi to all beekeepers.
    I am a new beekeeper. From algeria (north africa).
    I bought seven hives last year ( 2017) and i want to get good honey this year(2018) for human consomption.
    This year ,the winter is long,it means , we are in june and still have rain and cold days.
    The problem is that bees started Storting honey from nature, and the weather changes to cold,
    So please, can i give them some sugar water just to est it not to store it? If yes, how much the ratio of sugar In water that must not be exceed juste to eat it. Know that i stopped feeding them.
    Thkx so much.
    Best regards

  14. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Local conditions are important. You can feed the bees anytime that you do NOT have boxes on for human consumption.

  15. i have 30 colonies apis cerana nd after several months it was turned to 40 by dividing but now only 29 volonies left what causes the bees to get awau from colonie

  16. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Many factors can cause problems. Lack of forage, problems with your queens, mites or other pests.

  17. Hello Charlotte,
    This is my first year for keeping bees. I live in rural North MO and discovered a colony in a tree not too far away from my home. I decided to set a swarm trap in the trees behind my house and attempt to catch a swarm instead of buying a nuc or package. I started feeding sugar water in my back yard with the idea that it would promote a rapid spring built-up in the bee tree and they would need to swarm out. They were taking 2 qts of 1:1 a day! It must have worked or they did so naturally, who knows, I caught a swarm in the trap on my first try and now I have a new hive. I successfully transferred them to a hive on the 18th of June. A local bee keeper told me I should now stop feeding and let them do their own thing. He believes that sugar water will sit in the cells and go bad unless it is treated. Because it was very cold through mid May and we have had very hot and dry conditions here for early summer I am still feeding them and added a protein patty to boot. I fear that since they have gotten a late start in the season they are at a disadvantage and might not be able to sufficiently build-up their numbers and stores before winter. I will feed them this way all summer if that’s what it takes for them to survive. Is it factually true that sugar water stored in the cells will go bad if it is not treated before feeding?

    After I transferred them I put a qt jar of sugar water with punched lid upside down over the hole of the inner cover protected by a deep box and lid and left it there for about 4 days. I thought that maybe that was too long for it to be used without it going bad, so I change it out with a fresh jar. This afternoon when I checked on them I noticed crawlers in front of the hive. I counted a couple dozen of them. Have I made them sick from the sugar water or could the colony they came from have been sick in some way? They seem to be very lively, even a bit defensive. As a result of my own stupidity I have been stung by them twice already.
    Best Regards

  18. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Hi Dan,
    You can rest easy as your sugar water would not have caused any problems with your bees. In fact, once the bees take the sugar water in and begin the conversion process to honey, you have no worries about it spoiling. While honey made from sugar water will not contain all the essences and micronutrients of honey made from plant nectar, it will not spoil in the comb more than any other kind. If they were mine, I would continue to feed as much as they will take it because they have a lot of work to do before winter.

    The crawlers you are seeing as most likely a result of mites (viruses) etc unless a few happened to get into a pesticide.

    I think you are on the right track, listen to your gut. Good Luck

  19. Rick Evans says:

    I have several bee hives in South Texas where it has been very hot and dry this summer. I have put the supers on but am concerned that they will still need to be fed. What is the concern with feeding with supers on. I don’t want them to die or leave. I do have a water source close to the hives

  20. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    There is no reason to feed with honey supers on for you. It would not be real honey. Bees make honey from plant nectar. They will convert sugar water into a honey-like substance but it wont be real honey.

  21. Peter MacGregor says:

    im a newbee being mentored by a local beekeeper and my hived swarmed up above the hive in a tree about 40ft in the air and came back to hive i was thinking of stop feeding them sugar water cuz i was going to add the super to it
    is that going to upset them
    Pete from Maine

  22. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Do they have enough comb built and honey filled for the Winter? Here in SC, I tell my students to feed their bees until that goal is accomplished. Your local forage will factor in of course but in my area, a swarm that is not fed doesnt have a good chance of being ready for Winter by October.

  23. Chris Nathan says:

    I just took some honey out of my hive, only 4 frames and left the rest to the bees. I hve heard that a strong hive sucvh as mone you can harvest in September. Can I feed my bees now and then harvest in September? I hae one small honey super on now…

  24. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    How much honey you took is not as important as how much you left. In my area, I have no Summer/Fall flow. Local conditions where you live will determine 1)How much honey your bees need for Winter and 2) Will there be enough forage out there for them to get what they need. I dont take any honey until my bees have one full shallow for themselves. How much you need to leave will depend greatly on your location.

  25. Hello, I live in Georgia and we have had a very wet summer. Can a lot of rain affect honey production? I have checked my hive and there are lots of bees, but no honey.

  26. Hi Charlotte,
    I am in a neighboring state, Ft. Bragg, Nc area. I enjoy reading your posts on bees. Very informative. Haven’t read all but working on it. I am a second yr bee keeper. My 1st year didnt work out so well. 3 packages and a swarm. They either died or absconded. Also the fact that my job was keeping me on the road 99 percent of the time didnt help either. Along with someone who was also a new bee keeper taking honey from them, the winter stores I’m guessing. But I was not discouraged,. I started over with 1 package and 2 nucs. And so far so good. As I was told when I got my nucs, be nice and give them a Christmas gift, a sugar patty also a valentines gift….lol. The winter stores will be left alone this time, being I am here permanently now. I am still feeding sugar water, 1 to 1 mix, in half gallon jars on boardman feeders. So my question is, should i stop feeding during winter mths, since the colony will downsize by kicking out the drones, and just keep an eye on their stores and feed them as needed or keep feeding as long as they are taking it.

  27. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Absolutely, my bees dont fly very much in the rain. Also, sometimes the rain will wash nectar out of the bloom. Do you subscribe to my newsletter? Would love to have you.

  28. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    We want our bees to have enough honey stored for winter well before Winter arrives. Feeding in winter should only be an emergency or extra precaution plan. So, I suggest – decide how much honey (how many boxes etc) bees need in your area. Feed the bees until you have that amount of stores. Dont forget to manage mites.

  29. I was wondering when you need the ventilation bottoms for your hives

  30. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I leave ventilated bottom on all year. If we have a really cold front in Winter. I slide the grid boards inside.

  31. Is it OK to open feed 1/1 mix this time of year? With the Hurricane last week I am starting to notice some robbing . Most of the goldenrod that was blooming has been affected and bees are feeding very aggressively on my 5 gallon bucket feeders I started yesterday.

  32. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Sure its okay, and you may consider setting up several 2 gal (or 1 gal buckets) instead of just 1 . Spread the population around.

  33. Hi. I started bee keeping this past April. I fed sugar water and all seems to be going great. I added a second deep body when they appeared to require it. I did not add a honey super as I wanted the bees to have enough honey for winter. I stopped feeding sugar water in late August. My question is when should I start feeding again. The bees and I live in North Central Texas.

  34. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Buddy, it is VERY climate dependent. Ideally, you would not have to feed an over-wintered hive that still has plenty of honey stored. If your bees have enough food to last until your “flow” starts – you dont have to feed unless you want to encourage them to build up brood. Of course, don’t feed once you add a box for you.

  35. Brick Rigden says:

    I have a robust hive of Carnolian bees entering its third Spring. They made it through a colder than normal Kansas City winter. This Spring I am going to be starting a 2nd hive right next to this first hive. I will be getting a 5 frame nuc of Minnesota hygienic Italians at the end of April or early May. With a new hive placed right next to a robust established hive any suggestions to minimize the chance of robbing?

  36. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Sure thing, start off with the entrance greatly reduced and keep it small until the smaller one builds up. Consider sharing brood and giving the nuc a few frames of capped brood from the other hive – that will equalize their strength.

  37. David Douglass says:

    Thank you for all the great information. I have only been on your e-mail list for a few weeks but have learned a lot. My bees for two hives arrive this Saturday. I think I have everything ready. I am so excited.

  38. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Thanks so much David! It is going to be a very exciting day! Make a plan, have the stuff you need gathered and have fun.

  39. Hi Charlotte, Great website, thanks for sharing all your experience, especially with us newbees. Question: you mention to stop feeding sugar water when we put our supers on. We don’t plan on harvesting any honey this season since this is their first year, and we want to make sure they have enough to carry them through our cold montana winter. That being the case, is it still okay to keep feeding them after the supers are on? Thanks!

  40. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Yes, as long as you can in some way be sure to remember that they will not be REAL honey.

  41. Charlotte
    I use a top feed and installed my bees yesterday. I put around 1 Gallon into the feeder. Will that be enough for the first week. I don’t want to interrupt the collony.
    I’m located in upstate SC

  42. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    With a top feeder, refilling wont disturb the bees. They make drink it really fast or not if they are finding natural nectar. If they don’t take it or as slow to…. give them half as much next time and check every couple of days. When the natural nectar flow stops, they will be glad of it.

  43. Hello Charlotte,
    O I have soooo many questions. (Can you tell I’m a desperate newbie, LOL).
    I just acquired my two packages of bees three weeks ago. One package of Italians and one package of Carniolans. I am having a few questions or maybe they’re problems. I am using frame feeders and have been feeding both hives sugar water. So far, they seem to be doing very good.
    My Italians have made comb on 7 1/2 frames out of 10. I’ve not seen my queen as of yet but there are lots of larva. It looks to be about 3 1/2 to 4 frames of larva. I even saw a baby bee hatch out today. JOY! JOY! She was just sooo cute! Anyway my concern is that they seem to be building what I call “wonky comb”. Some of the comb is flush with the frame and in other areas they have attached the comb to the next frame connecting the two frames. In the last two weeks I have even found where comb was built on the screen of the baseboard and even a long one in the feeder. Is this normal? I have checked, rechecked, and triple checked that the hive is level and perpendicular on the top, bottom, and on all four sides.I have two frames that are completely “glued” together and can not remove one without tearing the comb all apart. I have removed the weird little shaped combs off the baseboards and anywhere else I might see them some place other than on the frames. I call them weird shaped because they look more like a paper wasp nest instead of honey comb and are very deep, some cells are up to an inch deep. I know they’re bee comb because they have had “sugar water honey” in them. I am getting ready to put another deep box on top but before I do that I am wondering if there is something that needs to be done to correct this behavior.
    My Carniolans, on the other hand, has a completely different hazard. I think my queen is gone. After 7 days I checked to make sure she was out and going. I found her right off the bat on the middle frame and it looked like she had laid a few eggs. But last week when I popped the top to check my brood I found two queen cells already capped and one cell formed but no larva yet. I couldn’t find my queen so I think she’s gone. These cells are are located in the middle of the frame and not on the bottom. I am told that if cells are in the middle. the colony is replacing a queen and if on the bottom of frames, on the underside of the cover, or on the inner cover then they are wanting to swarm. I hope this is true. I have a swarm box close at hand just in case they decide to swarm. I have heard that Carniolans have the propensity to swarm and I have been keeping a close eye on them. Today when I checked to see how they were doing there were 4 cells. I pulled one cell and opened it up to see what was inside. I’m not an expert by no means, but it looked like a queen to me. The larva (pupa) was a lot bigger than the worker bees around it. My conundrum is this. Do I pull another queen cell out then let the other two queens fight it out when they emerge? Or do I need to pull them all and scurry around trying to find a queen? I can get a local queen but all they have around here are Italians and ferals. ( Apparently the locals are afraid to try anything else.) I have an Italian hive next to them so I figure sooner or later they will mix any way.
    I’ve been just pushing the inner and outer covers over just enough to put feed in the frame feeders every three days and only actually taking the covers off once a week to see how the bees are doing. I,m trying not to bother them any more than I have to so they can work in somewhat peace. Since it takes 16 days for a queen to emerge, I am figuring these queens will be hatching in about 5 days or so. I do hope they’re queens and not laying workers.
    As to feeding, I’ve got questions on that, too. I live in southeast Kansas and it has been raining almost daily for about six weeks so I know I’m going to have to feed for quite some time.We’ve been lucky that it has been raining mostly at night and during the day the temps have been between 7 and 85, so I know and have seen the bees out gathering nectar. Since I am about ready to add another super to the Italian brood box, do I still need to check the bottom box? If so won’t I lose some bees in the grass or heaven forbid my queen. (It’s much easier to see a queen in a still photo than it is when she’s scurrying around with the other bees,LOL)
    Since this is my first year I am not planning on any harvest whatsoever. My plan is to hopefully have two deep and if possible a medium box going into winter so they will have enough storage that I won’t need to feed through the cold months. My luck I’ll freeze them if I have to feed this winter. I am planning on feeding lots of sugar water this year! If I need to check all boxes each week then this will change my whole set up that I have in mind. I thought initially I would only have to check all the boxes in the fall and next spring. I need help, suggestions,comments,mentoring, anything and everything.
    I have a bushel basket of questions but I’ll not overwhelm you today with all of them. I am loving your site for all the info. I belong to a Bee Club but am finding that most of the members are like me … newbies. There are three members who have had bees for 2-3 years, two that have had bees for 10+ years, and the other 25+ members are like me – first timers. Therefore when I ask questions I get blank stares, answers that make no sense, or sighs of irritation that I’m asking questions again. I’ve asked the two most versed members if they would mentor me but they are so overwhelm with all the other newbies and taking care of their own hives that I have not gotten very much help there either. Of course I am trying new things that aren’t standard here – Carniolan bees, a flow hive, and a jar super.
    Thanks for taking the time for me to bend your ear.

  44. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Oh my goodness, no way I can answer all of that here but I admire your enthusiasm. You are doing well to feed them. I remove any wacky comb before it gets too big. Colonies sometimes replace their queen after being moved – I’ve found it best to let them work it out for a few weeks before I bother them. Beetles can be a summer long problem here. Nothing works perfect – just keep on top of it. If you havent already, consider my beginners class – it will answer alot of newbie questions and help make sense of things. Best of Luck – have fun.

  45. As you live in a somewhat similar area as I, central NC, what is your opinion of the dearth period and will I be able to rely on my girls finding food in the fall as opposed to feeding them throughout?

  46. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Totally weather dependent. If my girls have a full honey super for themselves when I pull the Sourwood. I will monitor them and feed if needed in September (or before). Can depend on a Fall flow here.

  47. I’ve got a couple of really strong hives. In hopes of not killing two hives with one stone, I’m going to take a stab at splitting one of them. Short of relocating the queen and a few frames of brood, is there anything else you recommend? Thanks for your assistance.

  48. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    You will need to feed very well. Try to take a bit from each hive and watch to make sure everyone is about to adjust.

  49. Barbara Pittman says:

    I enjoyed reading about bees. I have a lemon mint garden that comes back every year for a out 3 years. I was concerned about people not seeing honey bees so I made a point of leaving the garden undisturbed. It is outside my home office windows and I really enjoying watching as I work. They are busy ALL DAY. Lots of them. Don’t know where the hive is. I live in a wooded neighborhood with lots of natural area so probably an old tree. I put out a hummingbird feeder on my deck beside the garden. The the bees and hummers (only two every year) share the sugar water like good neighbors should. I have lots of deer w/babies, lots of birds, possum, raccoons, an occasional fox. Nature is so wonderful. My husband has health issues. Filling the feeders, and looking forward seeing them waiting for him to come everyday has helped his health.

  50. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    That’s awesome. Sounds like a little oasis of life!

  51. Rebecca Allen says:

    We look like we have starving bees but have had a top feeder with 1-1 syrup on top of the hive for 2 weeks now. It is a jumbo feeder with “two cups” for the bees to get access. The bees do not appear to have tried to drink this, it’s on a crown board above the brood chamber. We have other colonies with slightly different feeders who seem to have no issue accessing their supplies and are happily drinking the same homemade syrup. How can we coax the bees into the feeder?

  52. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Once in a great while, I run across a colony that just will not use the top feeder. Have you tried dribbling a little bit of sugar water down through the holes that the bees would enter? Sometimes that helps bees figure it out faster.

  53. Anne Hendweson says:

    Hi Charlotte,
    I have a Spring swarm hive that is failing. I decided it was queenless so i purchased a new one but I think they killed her. My neighbor had a small swarm on his fence in 100 degree heat so I captured them in a small nuc. I combined it with the failing nuc and a newspaper layer a few days ago. Is it safe to assume the swarm had a queen? I am giving them a few days to adjust before I tidy everything up and get rid of extra frames and check for a queen. This hive also had wax moths and we are fighting them too.

  54. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Wax Moths are a symptom of a problem. They cant take over a strong colony. With bees anything is possible. Most likely the swarm has a queen with them. You will have to check in a while and see how things worked out. Also, be sure to read my article on wax moths so you can understand why they become a problem.

  55. Timothy Jalbert says:

    Thank You I was thinking of starting up a colony in the spring.

  56. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    That’s awesome. Now is a good time to start learning. Consider my online beekeeping class – on one of some kind – it will be a big help.

  57. Hi Carolina,
    My name is kat and I have a question that needs some help if you don’t mind. I have a honey bee that comes on my back porch doesn’t go to my flowers but comes to my rug. The bee comes and goes but I have no clue what’s going on with the bee. I don’t know if it’s getting stuff from the rug far as water goes. I do have planets and yes when I water them the rug gets wet. If the bee does go to the flowers I never see it. But last year I was having the same issue but last year I didn’t have a rug. I want to help the bee but clueless on what to do. Some people have said get more flowers some say it might be tired some have said it might be getting neutrals or minerals from the rug and some say get a cap from a bottle and put water with rocks in it. The bee is welcome it doesn’t seem like it wants to harm me but I know not to make it mad or scared. As I write this I have a cap of water sitting on the rug but it hasn’t gone to it I m making sure everything is ok not gonna leave the cap out. I just want to help but I don’t know how or where to begin. Or don’t know if the bee needs help or not. Can you please help me to understand what to do? Cause I m so lost on everything far as helping the bee out. Thank you so much for reading this and taking the time out to help me

  58. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Hi Kat, I agree with others that their is something in that rug that is attracting her. She must like “rug scented” water. No, she is not likely to sting you as long as you don’t step on her. However, you dont want her to come back with 20 friends! 🙂 If it were me I would probably wash the rug well well and let it dry completely, find a way to water the plants without getting it wet. And, if you really want to… create another water source for the bee girls. They need a shallow safe drinking place.

  59. Hi Charlotte, What is your opinion on Fructose 55? And where would you recommend buying large quantities of Sucrose syrup?

  60. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Large apiaries have to do things differently. I have no idea where you could buy sucrose syrup. I make my sugar water a few gallons at a time.

  61. Earnestine altizer says:

    Hi i am getting 2 nucs. Should i start with two brood boxes?. I am in sw va. If so when to put the super on for their food for winter? July? An mite treatment?

  62. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    No. Only use 1 brood box in the beginning until you have 7-8 frames out of 10 pulled out and in use.

  63. Hi
    Whens the best time to start feeding 2.1,im feeding them 1.1 at the moment and have just placed my second deep,i got the bees at the end of july,there doing well at the moment but want to ensure they make it through the winter 👍

  64. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    When the colony has pulled most of the comb needed and the population is good – 2:1 promotes honey storage more so than growth.

  65. Hi Charlotte,
    Thanks for all the precious advice! I keep reading non stop all your articles.
    I have a question about the sugar water : can I infuse the water with herbs such as sage and thyme before mixing it with the sugar? Wouldn’t that be better than using HE?

  66. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I have mixed feelings… most of the time I had rather only feed bees things that are as close to what they would collect as possible. The HBH has been tested by so many beekeepers that I feel comfortable with it when used in small amounts.

  67. Jaime Johnson says:

    What are your thoughts on Hive Alive vs. Honey B Healthy? Is one “better” than the other? I am a first-year beekeeper. I caught two swarms at the end of May and have been feeding them since they started with bare frames. I have debated on adding a supplement to the sugar syrup (1:1) that I am currently feeding them and would appreciate your thoughts.

  68. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I have used it and think it is very good too.

  69. Karen Reider says:

    Hi beekeeper Charlotte. Thank you for all this wonderful information. I have a question about how much to feed my bees during the day. It is late summer approaching fall and they definitely did not have enough flowers to draw from. I filled up a gallon feeder and they emptied it a little later than mid day from 6 o’clock in the morning. Should I fill it up again or is that enough for the day? It is about 500 feet away from their hive which is a top bar.

  70. Charlotte Anderson says:

    If they are not ready for Winter with lots of stored food, keep that feeder full. A strong colony has thousands of workers – you can’t feed them too much in a day. Also, with an outdoor feeder we are feeding other insects too but if you have them – you might put out more than one feeder and you did a good job keeping your bee feeder well away from the hive entrance!

  71. john dalzell says:

    I live on a tropical island – Guam. I have no bee hive on my property; however, I have placed a sugar water feeder outside for the bees that are in the area. I live in a typical housing area and not on a range and the property is not large.
    I’ve been feeding the bees hundreds if not thousands for months, about a year or so. They would arrive a sunrise and leave a sunset. Everyday like clockwork.
    Then we started attracting the Greater Banded Hornets. Wife and I were killing about 20 of these beasts every day. No idea where their nest is – no nests of any kind around my house.
    This was going on for about 4 months and suddenly for the last 3 days no hornets – my guess is that someone must have eliminated the hornet nest, where ever it was.
    That’s wonderful for us; but, suddenly I’ve noticed no bees at all at sunrise. They come by the hundreds in the early afternoon and they don’t stay until sunset but leave a few hours before. This has been going on for 2 days now.
    Question: We don’t have seasons here (just rain or dry) – But, do bees have schedules? Do bees in the tropics follow some sort of seasonal patterns? Or do you think the hornets are playing a part some how? Perhaps the bees moved to a new home and are setting up house? I’m very curious.

  72. Charlotte Anderson says:

    My guess would be that although you don’t have hot/cold seasons – you do have foraging seasons. Sometimes there is more natural nectar around and the bees don’t need the extra food as bad. I know for myself, I see this happen here. If I place a feeder outside when other natural food is available – it is mostly ignored! Aren’t bees fascinating!

  73. Carol Webb says:

    How often do you change the water for a frame feeder? I received a package of bees Thurs, today is Monday. Very small amount of sugar water gone. Small amount of bees built 2 frames of 1/3% of frame in that time. I’m in middle Georgia.

  74. Charlotte Anderson says:

    I don’t usually change it out unless its been in there 3 weeks or so. They may be getting enough nectar in the field right now. But I would continue to offer them some along because the field nectar will go away eventually and then the bees will be thankful for the syrup.

  75. Jacqueline Brennan says:

    Hello Miss Charlotte I have two new hives (packages). My question is how long do I feed them sugar syrup? Is this something that you do all summer long? I want to make sure they are prepared for this coming winter. The hives are doing very well. I have added a second brood boxes and they are starting to fill up. I am not anticipating any honey supers this year? Thankyou for all of your help!

  76. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Check out my post on Feeding Package Bees Successfully.

  77. Mary Hayden says:

    I do have a question. I keep hummingbird feeders in my backyard and have for years. Recently in the afternoon I find the feeders are surrounded by bees. I’ve never had this happen before. A neighbor several streets over keeps beehives and I’m wondering if these belong to her hives. Is this sugar water which is a ratio of 4:1 Is ok for the bees? Also since the bees are around, the hummingbirds don’t seem to be interested in this feeder.
    What should I do if anything? I want to help the bees but I’d like the hummingbirds to come back! Thanks.

  78. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Hi Mary, those bees are hungry. There must not be natural nectar sources in the area right now. If you know your neighbor, you might ask her if she is feeding her bees. Put in a nice way – she may not know they are that hungry. Unfortunately, beekeepers can not control where bees fly – but we do have a responsibility to try to maintain them. Likely, in a few weeks something will begin to bloom again and the bees will refocus.

  79. Mary Jones says:

    I live in N. Central Arkansas. We have had 2/10 in of rain since May. Everything is dying if it is not watered. I try to water some plants, but I did not get much garden planted this year. I have some bees coming to my hummingbird feeders, and oriole feeder. Last night I found your web page. I am wondering how much and which strength I should feed theses bees. One of my neighbors said they try not to start feeding theirs till later in the fall, however they have a large garden. The quart hummingbird feeder I have has an open trough like a chicken waterer. I filled it 2/3 full last night with 2:1 nectar. This morning there is a mass of bees on the tray as well as on the jar and all over the ground below the feeder. My neighbor said they feed theirs in a shallow pan with corn cobs in it to reduce drowning. I have pulled a couple supplement tub lids and picked some gum balls to use instead of corn cobs. I have a batch of 1:1 nectar cooling.

  80. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Hi Mary, It has been dry here to and of so hot. Thankfully, I have not seen my bees on the hummingbird feeder – yet. One to one sugar water, just plain granular sugar is the best liquid. I am assuming you are just wanting to help the hungry bees and these are not your own beehives. If so, providing a little sugar water in a drown-free environment is okay. Just know that you may have a veritable “bee tornado” out there. What you are doing sounds okay – just place it well away from your home and feeder. Bucket feeders are another option but unless you are feeding bees from your hives – that can get expensive.

  81. Dave Carlson says:

    Why feed bees sugar water when there is no nutritional value to it?
    Wouldn’t a patty be better? Or honey?

  82. Charlotte Anderson says:

    In my opinion, cane sugar water is closest to natural nectar. It does not take the place of real nectar but it is a carb source and will keep the bees alive. Honey (of their own) would be great but most beekeepers don’t have that and feeding honey from unknown sources is risky for disease. Also, the smell of honey in the bee yard being feed tends to make robbing worse. Patties can be very beneficial but carbs in that form do not encourage brood rearing as much as liquid feed. Natural nectar and real honey is always best. But, there are time when I feel like sugar water can be a boost. Each beekeeper must weigh the pros and cons and make a choice for his/her apiary.

  83. Hi, I have left over bee syrup [sugar water] left from last year it was frozen in my shed all winter it has a few specs of mold on it ,can I reheat it an use it or use as is or throw it away and start with fresh

  84. Charlotte Anderson says:

    I would err on the side of caution and make fresh.

  85. Barbara Walker says:

    I have a plant nursery business. I’ve just started my 37th year. I always feed the hummingbirds. This year I had about 12 on a daily basis. For years we would seldom see a honeybee. This year my hummingbirds left in August because they couldn’t feed because of so many bees. Hundreds of them. I have actually held up on fungicidin my plants because I didn’t want to harm the bees. I have no idea where their hive is located. I read on the computer to feed them the sugar water. I put out 3 feeders off my porch every morning and they cover it in like a mat on top of each other. I even have to refill it during the day. How can I locate their hive? Should I get a bee box? I know nothing about raising bees. My son enjoys feeding them. He has only been stung once when one got caught under his arm bringing his arm down from hanging the feeder. They swarm all around us and even get on our arms and hands. I’m concerned about cold weather coming and if they will survive. I also need to fungicide my plants but I don’t want to hurt the bees. What would be your best suggestion for my volume of bees?

  86. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Barbara, it does sound like you have had some bees move in nearby. This could be because of wild colonies moving into the area or some beekeeping neighbors. I would not get a bee box unless you have a passion for learning how to manage colonies. When they are feeding at a station they are quite calm and I enjoy watching them too. If you have the time, you could try to follow some of them after they fill up and leave – sometimes you can track them back to the hive. As for the fungicide, I would spray it a bit later in the day after most of the foraging bees have left and that may help prevent serious effects.