How, When, Why To Feed Bees

We would never feed any bees that would be making honey or have honey supers in place. Be sure understand that this post is for sustaining hives and keeping the honey bee alive.  All sugar syrup is consumed by the bees and is never blended, shared, mixed, or sold as honey.  Our Integrity is everything to us and hope yours is too.

I’ll admit, years ago when I first started out in bee bee keeping I thought to my self, why would any one want to feed bees sugar syrup? I refused to think that mother nature was less than capable to feed the bees. I also thought that feeding sugar syrup was close to sin. That said I typically only feed our bees in two circumstances.  It the hives life depends on it or if we are treating the hive for an illness.  For us that’s  would typically happen in early spring or late winter. With that said I hope we can shed some light on when and why most people feed honey bees.  We also will tell you how to feed your bees.  FYI you can do this more than one way so please for those of you who already know a better way I’m excited for you. This information here is just to give people options and ideas.  Here are some ideas for a mature weights of a bee hive for each quarter of the season in which you will need to learn.  This is for two double deep 10 frame boxes.  FALL: Brood chambers only: 125#+  WINTER: 90-110# SPRING: 70-90#  If weights were to drop severely below these weights consider reading on and feeding your bees.


The easier way to feed your new Package, Nuc, or mature bee hives is with a frame feeder.  This typically comes in 1 Gallon Size and we recommend the one we sell. This is made by Motherlode or Mann Lake. I’ve also seen 2 gallon frame feeders but for the sake of keeping it easy I would stick to the 1 gallon size.  The ladders that extend into the middle of the feeder reduce the drowning effect but “keepers beware” you will see dozens of drowning bees at some point with this style of feeder. Entrance or top feeders work but I like the convenience of the frame feeder close to the bees.  If you have a chance of Raccoons or Skunks entrance feeders or mason jars on top of your hive are prone to feed the wild life.  Again a frame feeder would be a bit more safe and reduce risk.  Once you attract wildlife it’s hard to get rid of them.
Below I provided some recipes but you should consider mixing a couple of quarts per session. If you mix up a gallon you could regret making a recipe mistake and or just making to much at once.  Find a funnel or make one out of paper.  Orderly pouring is good idea so keep that in mind.  You don’t want to poor or spill it on the ground or all over your hive.  How much should I feed?  Feed until your brood chambers are nearly full.  Give them food until the hive recovers or looks row-bust and healthy.  Stop feeding when you have to add a honey super.

We recommend feeding in early Spring and in times of need. That said follow the seasonal recipes below. Another good reason to feed would bee to establish a new hive. Making wax requires a lot of energy for you new hive. Providing this extra resource at the beginning will jump start your hive and help your young bees draw out more comb. This is needed at such a critical time for the success of your hive.  It’s not uncommon to feed for a few weeks in May.  This will likely take or 2 to 4 gallons of sugar syrup to really help your package or  nuc.

It’s simple. A balanced diet of carbs and protein. I won’t get into the diet specifics but I will tell you that your sugar syrup your providing is the carbs your bees need. The pollen being brought in will likely provide the proteins needed to raise healthy baby bees. Let’s get real, you wouldn’t just eat carbs only to have a healthy balanced diet so why would you expect your bees to live on say all the pollen or just carbs? Think about it, but don’t go to crazy on the idea that I just shared. The concept is easy, your bees need more than they have so do what can to help?  You likely bought your bees so protect them if possible.   Some people ask? Why not honey. Well we consider that a valid question. You can feed your bees honey stores from themselves but bee keeper beware. Feeding extracted honey to your bees has some problems, and I do not recommend it. Plus if your new at this you might not have access to honey from last year. Also you gave all that surplus to your friends and family last year, so what now?

Sugar syrup can be made in three different formulas, each has its own special purpose and
is used at a specific time of the year which I’ll describe below. Warning you must become bakers at this point. Using cups won’t work so well. Think in pounds and ounces. We recommend using white granulated cane sugar if possible. Avoid, brown sugar, beat sugar, powder sugar, or honey.  Remember the bee keeper code; never feed  the bees while honey supers are in place.

Spring: March-April-May
1:2 This formula is a very light syrup, it is made using one part of sugar to two parts of
water. For example, 1 pound sugar to 2 pounds of water. It is used in late winter and early
spring to stimulate the queen to lay eggs and helps the bees draw more comb.

Summer June-July-August
1:1 this formula is a medium weight syrup, it is made using one part of sugar to one part
of water. For example, 1 pound of sugar to 1 pound of water. It is used as an artificial nectar
to feed brood larvae in spring and summer or to get the bees to draw  more comb.

Fall Sept-Oct-Nov
2:1 this formula is a very heavy syrup, it is made using two parts of sugar to one part of
water. For example, 2 pound of sugar to 1 pound of water. This is used in fall or early winter as
a honey substitute to feed your bees. The bees should add weight and will use these stores throughout winter.  Ideal weight for a typical Rocky Mt. winter bee hive is about 120-140 pounds.

Making the syrup: All three sryups are simple to make.  Sometimes we call them simple syrups.  Bring proper weight of  water to a boil then reduce heat to low.  Add proper weight of sugar and stir until dissolved.  Never cook your sugar.  In fact suggesting boiling is a bad idea.  Just get all the sugar dissolved with non on the bottom.  Let cool and then feed.  If you your adding a feeding stimulant or essential oils add proper amount as suggested on bottle, mix well and watch your bees enjoy.

TIP:We sell frame feeders and essential oils every spring.  We highly recommend buying some essential oils in the 8 oz. bottle.  That will last you quite awhile.  You add less than a tablespoon per gallon and smells yummy!  Check out the estore.  We do not ship at this time but can deliver them to our drop points in Salt Lake, and Denver.  If you live near Grand Junction go ahead and email us and we can arrange for you to pick some up.