Do Honey Bees Like Sugar Water?
There is this common hot debated question by the beekeepers I would want to address based on the experts. Do honey bees like sugar water? When should honey bees be fed with sugar water? When to stop feeding them? How to make sugar water?
Essentially, this topic will help many beekeepers to understand the right and helpful solution when it comes to feeding bees with sugar water to avoid common mistakes we do. Generally, beekeepers do feed honey bees sugar water in specific cases, often aid them out of a hive during the winter or give them a boost, especially to the new beehive.
For example, when the honey bees are unable to typically collect enough food via natural sources, the trained beekeepers may need to help. And the dependable way someone can do this is via feeding the hungry colony sugar water. In our today’s article, I am glad to take you through a comprehensive guide that will help you understand everything about feeding bees sugar water.
Is it a good thing to feed honey bees sugar water?
The absolute perfect food for honey bees is pollen and nectar, as they have an abundance of the nutrients. However, there are sometimes when honey bees have low food in stores, probably because of new colony building their home, weather conditions, or swarms starting just from scratch.
In this case, the beekeepers have a choice to feed their hives. As I said before, some beekeepers are not sure if it’s a good thing to feed their bees, while others accept this challenge. Continue reading the article to know what is supposed to be done in this case.
So what exactly this sugar water, and what is the process of making it.
The common recipe which describes sugar water is mixing water and white granulated natural cane sugar. Granulated sugar dissolves rightly in water, making something similar to natural plant nectar in terms of sweetness. When making sugar water, it’s important to use the white sugar only rather than brown sugar or molasses to avoid your colonies getting sick or dying.
How should you feed your bees? This is among the frequently asked question I always come across in the beekeeping industry. Most of the beekeepers tend to use the feeding supplement, which comes with the feeder, a liquid form which encourages perfect feeding.
This feeder is also great as it prevents the user’s syrup not to get moldy. Besides, be attentive when making the sugar water because there are other homemade recipes that can feed bees, but they are highly concentrated and can harm your hives.
Know how to perfectly make sugar water (1 gallon)
Mix equal amounts (water and granulated sugar) to create sugar water. Using cups or weight will help you have the right unit of measure, provided you have 1:1 rates of water syrup and sugar. But you don’t have to keenly stress right the measurements as even the nectar sources tend to vary a little bit in sweetness.
- One gallon of sugar water 1:1
- – 102/3 cups of lukewarm water
- – 102/3 cups of natural granulated sugar
Sugar Water Recipe
This ration of sugar water contains twice much sugar compared to water, probably adding 4 cups of lukewarm water and 8 cups of sugar. Warm water is important in this type of mixture, so your sugar will easily dissolve, and don’t boil bee syrup is not necessary neither good.
Why the two different ratios are good in feeding bees?
With this question, you will understand what it means by feeding bees via seasons. First, the two syrup recipes offer carbs but feeding honeybees with both results differently. Ration 1:1 is perfect to feed the honey bees during spring, a time which the growth time. During this period, the over-wintered colonies seem busy raising their brood.
The new hives, which have already begun purchasing packages in this season they, struggle to typically get their specific colony established. So, ration 1:1 promotes brood rearing as it is a thin mixture with close sweetness to that of natural nectars. Overall, this this ratio applies when someone has a colony which really needs food.
Now feeding the bees in a fall.
In most cases, colonies are not ready for the winter. Therefore, they end up running the starvation risks without supplemental feeding. Ration 2:1 is perfect to feed the honey bees to typically promote their food storage during this period. This fed mostly ends up being stored right in the comb, waiting for winter. And that is why you should prepare for fall feeding before winter arrives.
What is the perfect time to start feeding your honey bee sugar water?
Many beekeepers feed each colony all season which is wrong. Besides, there are two specific situations where you might consider offering supplemental food as a trained beekeeper:
- The established hives which has insufficient food right in stores
- And a new colony just starting from scratch
Whenever a beekeeper purchases the bees in packages, they usually arrive right on the scene and with no resources. This means you will receive the package without any beeswax comb, no drawn, brood, or food stores. And this is what we refer to as a new colony which you should start feeding immediately until their comb is wholly drawn out. The new colony should be fed using ration 1:1.
Can sugar water feeding method make the bees lazy?
Probably no! In most cases, the honey bees tend to prefer the natural nectar whenever they have good sources readily available. However, some beehives will accept being fed, while some might never require it based on the local conditions.
Which is the right time to stop feeding the honey bees?
Based on the experts, you should feed the captured swarms or new colories until they are fully established and also get enough food in the store. Consider to always checking your beehives if bees are filling them with food and brood, probably in mid to the later summer.
However, if your hive got enough food stored for the winter seasons, you don’t have to feed your honey bees. Overall, the best tip for a successful fall bee feeding is getting out and getting it done right in later summer, that is, before the weather cools.
Is there a time some should not consider feeding the bees with sugar water?
The short answer is yes. Probably the times of a cold-weather that is when the honey collection supers are on hive because the bees will start using sweet water to produce honey which is not recommended. In addition, the much time to feed your bees will depend on foraging and climate conditions.
Remember, not or little food in the spring period causes your honey bees to sacrifice the brood or start developing the young bees. On the other side, poor foraging conditions right in fall may prevent the storage of food for the winter survival. And especially when you are intending to keep or keeping many hives just one location, you cannot rely on the natural nectar always.
The top-ranked honey bee feeders for the sugar water
Of course, you will come across different types of the honey bee feeders out there. Each type of this method comes with its own pros and cons.
- Frame feeder
|– Located right inside your hive close to a cluster|
– Can hold 1 gallon of the syrup or even more
– A perfect option for cold weather simply because bees will easily access the food.
|– It might leak sometimes|
– The beekeeper should open the hive when it comes to refilling
- Open Feeding in Bee yard
|– No feeders to typically clean|
– Easy to do with no filling
– No special equipment required
– Offers much bee syrup
|– Might lead to robbing probably when used near hives|
– Not really an economical method to feed the bees
– During bad weather, bees may not access the food
- Pail feeders
|– Easy to handle and lightweight|
– Holds 1 gallon of food
– Can be placed inside your hive
– Easy to refill. You don’t have to disturb the colony
|– The mesh hole might be filled with the propolis, especially when it is empty.|
– Requires extra equipment
- Hive top feeders
|– Holds much food|
– Easy to refill without causing disturbances to a colony
– Made of plastic or wood
|– Bit heavy when fully filled|
– They got leakage tendency over time
– You should take good care of them to avoid spilling the syrup right around the hive.
- Boardman feeder
– Clear containers to show when it’s empty
– Easy to refill
|– It might increase robbing chances|
– The smell may attract wasps or other insects
There you got it as a beekeeper. Your bees should not starve of hunger during winter or when starting from zero. The above guide is important to any beekeeper to avoid the common mistakes made by beekeepers like making excess syrup, feeding bees with sweat water at the wrong time, not preparing for extra food early, and others related. You now know what you are required to know to keep your beekeeping beneficial and honey bees surviving in a comfortable condition.