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Why feed my honey bees?

Why feed my honey bees?

Written by : honeytop

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Wait Ray, am I not keeping bees so they will feed me?  Do I need to feed them?  Yes you do.   In the south especially in July – August, and over winter.   Here is some information on feeding your bees.

Why Feed Honey Bees?

While honey bees primarily forage on nectar and pollen from flowers, there are times when supplementary feeding becomes necessary. Feeding bees serves multiple purposes:

  1. Overcoming Scarcity: During seasons when flowers are scarce or adverse weather conditions limit foraging opportunities, supplemental feeding can prevent colony starvation.

  2. Stimulating Colony Growth: In the early spring or after swarming, when colonies need to rapidly expand their population, feeding sugar syrup or other supplements can provide the necessary energy for brood rearing.

  3. Supporting New Colonies: When establishing new hives or introducing packaged bees, feeding helps them establish a stable colony by providing readily available food sources.

Feeding Options:

There are several feeding options available, each with its own advantages and specific use cases:

  1. Sugar Syrup: The most common method involves preparing a simple sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in water. The ratio typically used is 1:1 (equal parts sugar and water) for spring feeding and 2:1 (two parts sugar to one part water) for fall feeding. Sugar syrup is convenient, inexpensive, and easily absorbed by bees.

  2. Pollen Patties: Pollen is the primary protein source for bees, and supplementing their diet with pollen patties can be beneficial, especially during times when natural pollen sources are limited. These patties are made from a mixture of pollen substitute and sugar syrup, providing essential nutrients.

  3. Fondant or Candy Boards: During winter or extended periods of low forage availability, fondant or candy boards can serve as a long-lasting food source. These solid sugar blocks are placed directly on top of the hive, and bees consume them as needed.

Feeding Best Practices:

When feeding honey bees, it’s essential to follow a few guidelines to ensure their well-being:

  1. Quality Ingredients: Always use high-quality sugar and pollen substitutes obtained from reputable sources. Avoid using refined or contaminated sugars, as they can harm the bees.

  2. Timing and Quantity: Feed bees when necessary, considering local conditions and the availability of natural forage. Avoid overfeeding, as excess food can promote pest and disease issues within the hive.

  3. Feeder Placement: Use appropriate feeders, such as entrance feeders or top feeders, ensuring they are easily accessible to the bees while minimizing the risk of robbing from other colonies.

  4. Hygiene: Keep feeders clean and free from debris or contaminants. Regularly inspect and clean feeders to prevent the spread of diseases or mold.

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