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How and what to feed bees?

Feeding the bees is essential to ensure the survival of the colony. By collecting the honey, the beekeeper actually takes the reserves made up by the colony to spend the winter. It is therefore normal to replace these. How to do it, with what quantity, when, with what product, ... To have the answer to all your questions, read the following article.
The bee is a social insect. It can only survive in cohesion between individuals and between generations. One of the essential elements for this continuity is the constitution of honey reserves. In beekeeping as we know it today, the beekeeper is a disruptive element who "steals" the bees' supplies. It is therefore normal to reconstitute them through feeding.

Feeding and stimulation:

The two aspects should not be confused. As indicated, feeding consists of feeding the colony as a replacement for the honey collected by the beekeeper.

Stimulation, also called speculative feeding, is a form of feeding but given at a period chosen by the beekeeper in lesser quantities in order to simulate a supply of food and to stimulate the queen's laying in order to have foragers in large numbers at a convenient time. Stimulating therefore has other objectives and the technique is different.

When and how to feed

Unmistakably, as soon as possible after the summer harvest. As soon as you have removed the supers licked by the bees, start feeding.

Fill the feeders at the end of the day. This period is indeed conducive to the looting of beehives and feeding during the day could encourage the strongest colonies to attack the weakest.

Place a feeder on the frame cover and first give three or four liters of syrup to provide reserves for the colony and at the same time stimulate the queen.

This amount of syrup should be given gradually to avoid blocking egg laying. On the contrary, it will relaunch the queen's spawning. She will not yet lay the eggs which will give birth to the winter bees but the bees which will be born from this laying will be those which will take care of the hatching of the winter bees. As much as they are numerous and raised in opulence.

Just after this first feeding, do not forget to treat your colonies against varroa. Feed before treating as some anti-varroa products discourage bees from accessing the feeder. It is important to reduce varroa pressure as soon as possible after harvest.
After the varroa treatment, install your hives in their winter configuration:
  • place an input reducer
  • reduce the number of frames. This is called tightening up the colonies. On eight frames for the strongest colonies. On five or six frames for the colonies in the making. Reducing the colony's space will allow it to more easily regulate heat during the winter and to combat humidity. Hives with too many frames for their strength are often invaded by mold during the winter.

What to feed

Do not try to make syrup yourself. Water and sugar ferment very quickly, especially in hot weather, as we can see in late July or August. Buy a good syrup in the store. A 50/50 syrup, ie 50% water for 50% sugar will do.

For Buckfast bees that overwinter with large colonies, count 8 lbs of syrup per colony.

Syrup feeding should always take place at temperatures above 15 ° C. If you must feed in cold weather, such as a rescue feed in late winter when the reserves are depleted, use candy.