Feeding Bees Sugar Water-A Complete Guide

This post may contain affiliate links – full disclosure – read here

Why Beekeepers Use Sugar Water for Bees

Feeding bees sugar water is the most common method used by beekeepers to help hungry bees. When you choose to manage a honey bee colony – there will be times when you need to step in and help the bees. Providing extra nutrition can be the difference between life and death for the colony. But, using sugar water for bees is not without its challenges, you need to do it right to avoid creating more problems.

picture of 2 honey bees drinking sugar water from feeder

If you see someone pushing a cart full of sugar through the market, that person might be a beekeeper.

Each year thousands of beekeepers invest time in making and feeding bees sugar water.  That’s a lot of work and expense.

So why do we beekeepers go to all this effort? There must be a good reason, right?  Are beekeepers nuts? Well, yea – sometimes but not in this case.

When a colony is truly in need of food, using sugar water in your hives can be a life saver for the bees.

image of a honey bee drinking sugar water - feeding bees sugar water

Should You Feed Bees Sugar Water?

Well, that is debatable and depends on the location and condition of each colony. All beekeepers would agree that the absolute best food for bees is plant nectar and pollen.

Healthy bee colonies should not survive on sugar water or sugar syrup alone. Natural nectar has an abundance of nutrients that can not be replaced with sugar water.

But, sometimes a colony is low on food stores through no fault of the bees. This could be due to a new colony building a home or even weather conditions.

Faced with the fact of letting a colony starve or feeding them, I prefer to help the bees survive.

However, the concept of feeding honey bees often creates a division among beekeepers.

Some beekeepers feel that you should never feed bees, period.  Other beekeepers accept the need to feed their honey bees when conditions warrant.

What is Sugar Water & How to Make Your Own

What exactly is sugar water and why should we use that for bee food? In respect to beekeeping, sugar water is made by mixing white granulated cane sugar and water.

When cane sugar is dissolved into water, it makes consumption by the bees easier. It mimics what bees eat naturally – it is very similar in sweetness to plant nectar. And, honey bees are accustom to collecting liquid food.

Yet, sugar water does not take the place of nectar which has additional nutritious qualities. Feeding bees should only be a boost or help through a difficult time it should not the the only thing your bees eat.

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 bees sick – or dead.

Many beekeepers use a feeding supplement -I use this one- added to the sugar water. It promotes good feeding and prevents your syrup from becoming moldy.

There are many homemade recipes for using essential oils for bees that some beekeepers feel promote better bee health. These products are concentrated- add only a small amount to the sugar water for your bees.

Sugar Water Recipes for Feeding Bees By Season

There are 2 basic recipes for sugar water used by most beekeepers . You can measure by weight or volume it does not matter.

We are mixing a percentage of water to a percentage of dry sugar. You can measure with cups (i.e. 4 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water) or you can use weight as the unit of measure ( 4 pounds of sugar to 4 pounds of water).

This ratio produces a 1:1 sugar water recipe because it consists of equal parts of water and sugar.

Another sugar water ratio is 2:1. This mixture contains twice as much sugar as water. For example, 8 cups of sugar mixed with 4 cups of water.

Why are these 2 different sugar water ratios so popular? I’m glad you asked. It’s because they have different results in the hive.

chart of Recipes for sugar water Use the proper sugar to water ratios for feeding honey bees

Feeding Bees Sugar Water in Spring

Spring is a time of colony growth and renewal. Colonies that have over-wintered are busy raising brood and may be running low on food stores.

New hives that are started from buying package bees are struggling to get their colony established. Both of these hives can benefit from supplemental feeding.

Feeding bees sugar water in a 1:1 ratio, promotes brood rearing. This thin mixture is closest to the sweetness of natural nectar.

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 bees 1:1 sugar water 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.

Feeding Bees Sugar Water in Fall

Hopefully, your colonies have produced enough honey during the growing season to be ready for Winter.

However, it is not uncommon to find colonies that are short on Winter stores. These colonies run the risk of starvation without supplemental feeding.

The sugar water ratio of 2:1 is fed to honey bees to promote food storage. Of course, this will not be really honey but the bees will store it as such.

It is much better to feed some sugar water to your colony rather than have them starve in the middle of Winter. Fall feeding should be complete before cold weather arrives.

When Should I Start Feeding Bees Sugar Water?

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

Because they begin with nothing, understanding how to feed a new package of bees is critical to their growth.

Begin feeding this colony 1:1 sugar water immediately and continue until all of their comb is drawn out. They have a lot to do before winter cold.

Problems with your queen honey bee, a late freeze that causes a nectar dearth and other issues can make hive buildup very difficult for new colonies.

Even established colonies may benefit from supplemental feeding during times of drought.

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.

Popular Honey Bee Feeders for Feeding Sugar Water

A multitude of feeders are available for feeding honey bees sugar water. Each type or method has pros and cons. Lets explore the most common bee feeders.

  • boardman feeders
  • mason jar feeders
  • hive top feeders
  • frame feeders
  • pail feeders
  • open feeding

Boardman Feeder (Entrance Feeder)

Mann Lake Entrance FeederMann Lake Entrance FeederMann Lake Entrance Feeder

 


Use this feeder with a regular glass canning jar. It fits into the front hive entrance. A beekeeper can easily see when to refill.  The jars are easy to replace and clean.

But, this type of feeder does have its problems. A hungry colony can drain this in a couple of hours. If you want to use a boardman feeder,  it is best to place it inside the hive.

Pros of Boardman Feeders

  • easy to refill
  • inexpensive
  • clear container shows when its empty

Cons of Boardman Feeders

  • smell will attract wasps and other bees
  • may increase chances or robbing
  • does not hold much sugar water
pictures of beekeeping activity - free copy of ebook about successful beekeeping

How to Make a Mason Jar Bee Feeder

The entrance or boardman feeder is basically the same as the mason jar feeder without the fancy wooden holder.

It is really easy to make a mason jar bee feeder, because almost everyone has an extra glass jar around.

Some beekeepers use a temporary hive top with a 1″ – 2″ hole in the top. The upside-down jar is placed over the hole. Weigh down the jar with a brick or strap.

We do not want the wind or a raccoon to push the jar over.  Of course, you can also use an empty deep box (with a top) to enclose jars inside the hive.

sugar water jar feeder with holes in lid

Feeding Bees with Multiple Mason Jars

One easy way to use jar feeders is to purchase or make 4 jars feeders. Place all 4 inside the hive – sitting on the inner cover.

Use an extra deep hive box to enclose the jars and then put the top back on the hive. This allows the bees to have access to a gallon of sugar water inside the hive.

The Hive Top Feeder

Hive top feeders sit on top of the hive under the telescoping top. They may be made of wood or plastic. The feeder will hold around 1-2 gallons of bee syrup and will feed the colony for several days.

Pros of Using Top Feeders

  • easy to fill without disturbing colony
  • holds a lot of sugar water

Cons of Using Top Feeders

  • they have a tendency to leak over time
  • they are heavy when filled
  • care must be taken to avoid spilling syrup around the hive
  • if the lid does not fit tight – a robbing frenzy may result

Frame Feeders

Pierco 9 5/8 Deep Frame Feeder | 1 Gallon - with Cap & LadderPierco 9 5/8 Deep Frame Feeder | 1 Gallon – with Cap & LadderPierco 9 5/8 Deep Frame Feeder | 1 Gallon - with Cap & Ladder

 

A frame feeder takes the place of one frame in the hive body. If the hive normally holds 10 regular frames, you will use 9 regular frames and 1 feeder frame.

Pros of Using Frame Feeders

  • hold up to 1 gallon of syrup
  • are inside the hive close to the bees
  • good option in cool weather because bees can access the food easily

Cons of Using Frame Feeders

  • beekeeper has to open the hive to refill
  • some bees will drown in the feeders
  • they may leak over time

If you choose to use frame feeders, put some type of floating material inside the compartment to reduce drowning. I have used small sticks or wooden Popsicle sticks.

Pail Feeders for Bees

The pail feeder is one of the most popular bee feeders. A small plastic pail with a mesh feeder hole holds 1 gallon of sugar syrup.

Fill the bucket with sugar syrup. Put the lid on tightly. When you turn the bucket upside down, some syrup will escape until a vacuum forms.

Put the upside down bucket directly on top of the frames. Bees will feed from the mesh feeder hole in the bucket ( or small holes drilled by the manufacturer).

Pros of Pail Feeders

  • lightweight and easy to handle
  • holds at least 1 gallon of sugar water
  • inside the hive – accessible to bees in all weather
  • easy to refill without disturbing bees very much

Cons of Pail Feeders

  • requires extra equipment
  • mesh hole may be filled with propolis by bees if you let it empty

Like the boardman feeders, pail feeders require extra equipment. An empty hive body around the pail allows the hive to be closed.

If you choose, you can use a temporary hive top with a small hole drilled in the center. Place your upturned pail over the hole. A brick or rock on top of the bucket will prevent wind damage.

Open Feeding Sugar Water

Some beekeepers enjoy providing feed for bees in an open container. Commercial beekeepers often use this method because is it easy to feed a lot of colonies at once.

This method for feeding bees has some merits but it is also risky. If you do plan to try open feeding, ensure that the feeders are well away from your hives.

honey bee feeding in an open tub filled with straw and sugar water

At least 50 feet, more is better or you increase the risk of creating a robbing frenzy.

Pros of Open Feeding

  • easy to do – not filling individual feeders
  • no feeders to clean
  • no special equipment needed

Cons of Open Feeding

  • not an economical way to feed
  • bees will drown in the container
  • bees cant access food in bad weather
  • can cause robbing if used near the hives

Open feeding can be worthwhile in certain situations. I use it as an indicator of natural forage. If the bees are getting a lot of natural nectar, they will ignore the open feeder.

If they attack the feeder in mass, they are not finding a lot of food in the field. Then I know it may be time to consider feeding internally.

Remember, open feeding is not an economical way to feed. This is because you are feeding every bee and wasp in the neighborhood.

You do not have to rely on purchased feeder. Learn how to make a bucket feeder for your bees with a simple plastic pail and lid.

Does Feeding Bees Make Them Lazy?

No. I do not believe that bees are lazy or that feeding bees will prevent them from foraging for nectar.  

Some bee hives will need to be fed and some may never need it – depending on local conditions. In fact, if natural nectar is available – my colonies prefer to forage.

When to Stop Feeding Bees Sugar Water

Feed new colonies, or captured swarms, until they are established and have some food stores. Check your hives in mid to late Summer, are the bees filling the box with brood and food?

The biggest mistake made by new beekeepers is failing to feed a new colony long enough.  

This is why I devote so much energy in my Online Beekeeping Class, outlining the importance of proper feeding of new hives.

Established colonies can usually survive on their own unless you are in a drought.  If you know that your hive has enough food stored for Winter-you don’t need to feed.

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

When You Should Not Feed Bees Sugar Water

Yes, there will be times when you should not be feeding bees syrup . These include times of cold weather, when your honey collection supers are on and a few other situations.

Bees can not make good use of sugar syrup in cold temperatures. It’s important to get those colonies ready before cold weather arrives.

Remember, never feed bees sugar water when honey collection supers are on the hive. I am referring to boxes of honey that are intended for human consumption.

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.

Final Tips on Feeding Sugar Water for Bees

Feeding bees is a lot of work and expense. How much you need to feed will depend on your climate and foraging conditions.

Too little food during Spring build up causes the bees to sacrifice brood or developing young bees. Poor foraging conditions in the Fall prevents storage of food for Winter survival.

Especially when keeping many hives in one location, remember that we can not always rely on natural nectar.

This is another example of why it is important to connect with local beekeepers – they will know the key times when you may need to consider feeding your bees.

Beekeeper Charlotte

Similar Posts

60 Comments

  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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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:

    Hi
    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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. https://carolinahoneybees.com/beekeeping-class-combo-deal/

  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. 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. 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. 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?

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. Timothy Jalbert says:

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

  55. 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

  56. 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. Bee Friendly Garden Ideas

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

  58. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *