View Full Version : how often should i feed my bee's?

09-30-2008, 05:25 AM
im new to all this beekeeping:) i have one box. how often should i feed my bee's sugar water? once a week? orrrr?:scratch:

09-30-2008, 05:34 AM
Tough question since we really don't know how much you're feeding them now or what you're using to give them feed. A basic rule of thumb is to feed them if they're taking it, regardless of the amount. That's the simple answer. Technically, they can plug up the colony with syrup by taking too much and leaving them with a shortage of space. BUT...bees tend to know what's best. Since this is your first year, I would feed them while they are taking it and stop when they do as well! If they use up your supply in three days, replenish at once. If they take two weeks, replenish when they've used it up. Go by their schedule, not yours.

09-30-2008, 06:53 AM
A lot of when and how much to feed depends on what you are trying to achieve. In the spring I will feed 1:1 if I am trying to get the bees to build up and draw comb. I will feed as much as they will take. Being careful not to let them run out. I keep an eye on the brood nest to make sure it is not getting bound up. once the hive is heavy and they have drawn 2 deeps I turn them loose on there own with a honey super on top. In the fall I feed 2:1 since swarming is less of an issue I dont worry as much about the brood area getting bound up. I will feed them till they get up to a weight I am satisfied will get them thru winter. again in the spring I will feed light hives to get them up to weight before the spring flow.

10-01-2008, 08:19 AM
I am a first year Beek and caught a swarm in late July. I have been feeding this entire time and they have taken around 75 pounds of sugar. They have filled a deep and a medium and are now working on a second deep. There are a lot of bees, they hang from the inner cover and make quite an impression when I open the lid! I have also gave them their 4th pollen patty yesterday. I think I may have overfed them but they are sure building. It should slow down soon and I will give them a Mountaincamp send off to winter and hope for the best.
There isn't a fall flow to speak of here which is why I have been feeding.

10-01-2008, 08:28 AM
I. I think I may have overfed them but they are sure building. .

I dont think that is the case. From what you have said sounds like you done right by feeding them up to get them built up

Michael Bush
10-04-2008, 10:04 PM
Right not it's not how often but how much. If the hive is light I'd keep syrup on them constantly until they have enough stores for the winter. Around here the hive should weigh around 125 pounds for a double deep full of bees. If it's lighter than that and the feeder is empty, it's time to fill it.

10-05-2008, 05:34 AM
Don't know about your temps but my bees take less on cool days and nights. If you're looking to get your bees built up enough to winter over, don't cut yourself short on the amount of time they need do store what you give them.

10-05-2008, 11:15 AM
>i have one box. how often should i feed my bee's sugar water? once a week? orrrr?

Feral bees don't get fed at all. Beehives are livestock, not pets. Maybe feed upon establishment to help them get going. Feed before winter if they need stores. Otherwise, let them work for you.

>I have been feeding this entire time and they have taken around 75 pounds of sugar. They have filled a deep and a medium and are now working on a second deep. I have also gave them their 4th pollen patty yesterday. I think I may have overfed them but they are sure building.

Most of the respondents to this thread sound like they treat their hives like Paris Hilton treats her little dog.

10-06-2008, 10:47 PM
It has been in the low 60s during the day and 40 at night the past several weeks and in that time my bees have drawn 3 frames of foundation and most of a frame of comb (without foundation). Not to mention that it is full of sugar water. If they keep it up I will have two deeps and a medium of comb they have drawn and filled since later July.

10-07-2008, 04:45 AM
so valleykat as you can see by the responses there are different view and different situations that would flavor the context of the answer to your question.

I would ask how big and what is the age of your hive and what mechanism do you plan to employ for feeding.

just to give you context to go by... I employ boardman feeder incorporated into migratory tops this time of year (frame feeders later)... the new starts (typically 1 box deep) get about 1 quart of 1 to 1 per week.

10-07-2008, 04:24 PM
I agree with the previous post. It depends on what you are trying to achieve. Let me elaborate with some examples.

The first was already suggested: Getting them built up strong enough to overwinter. Find out what they need to weigh in your area and feed until you get them there. I don’t have hardly any winter in Orlando, so this is not an issue for me, but I might be more of an issue for you in Tennesee.

Another reason is to build them up in the spring for the main honey flow. You might want to feed them to stimulate brood production about 45 days ahead of the main flow so that you have a maximum of adult age foraging bees during the main flow. More bees of the right age will gather more honey.

Here in FL, we have a mid summer dearth. If I harvest all of their nice spring Orange Blossom honey (and I do) then they are going into the hot summer with no food reserve. I like to feed them sporadically during the summer so that the bees have food, but not feed so much as to over stimulate brood production as that just creates more mouths to feed at a time when there is no food. It is a delicate balance.

Another reason to feed them is to stimulate them to draw wax. Bees must hold nectar in their honey stomach to draw wax. If you fill them up with sugar syrup and they have no place to put it, they will draw out the foundation with new wax cells so that they can put the nectar in them.

I’m sure there are more reasons…….

Also, when bees are raising brood they need protein too. Pollen/protein supplements can be valuable in the early spring when no pollen is yet available. Particularly for young colonies that did not have time to store pollen last season. For late season swarms, or nucs set up in the later half of summer for instance.

Hope this helps……….

04-26-2013, 01:58 AM
Im certain that most "livestock" owners let a herd graze but ALSO administer vaccinations and supplemental feedings periodically.

04-26-2013, 02:00 AM
It should be noted that there is nothing feral or natural about having thousands of insects in a big white box either.

04-26-2013, 02:10 AM
This doesn't mean I disagree with Odfrank. Helping too much can breed weakness. I think that is what he is trying to get at.

David LaFerney
04-26-2013, 05:26 AM
This is an old thread, but you are right. Bees may be livestock, but malnutritioned livestock isn't likely to be very profitable or productive. I think the real issue is how do you gauge when bees need to be fed instead of relying on forage? If there is little or no open nectar in the hive when you inspect - during the bee keeping season - you need to feed in my opinion. Honey is winter food, and bees will do without and curtail brood production during a dearth in order to save it for winter. The result is malnutritioned, diseased, weakened hives with small populations.

I'm not saying that odfrank isn't right - for his location. I don't know about that. But here in TN last year there was almost zero forage from the second week in June through the entire rest of the season, and if your attitude was "let 'em feed theirselves or starve." they starved. Or robbed. Or both.

04-26-2013, 08:05 AM
Hi David, thanks for your expertise. I have been learning everything I can from these forums in the last few years. There is much wisdom to be found here! I have the same thoughts about feeding as you do, I think. Here in southeast Indiana we were expecting a little clover flow after the locust and it just didn't happen last year. It was very disheartening to guys that took supers off after locust only to see that the bees wanted it right back. There was only one hive that I kept honey from and only because it was queenless during the flow and was nearly honey bound. This is my second year of beekeeping so there is more ignorance than knowledge at this point. I have picked up beekeeping and felt very comfortable doing just about everything so far. Gonna try and produce a few healthy queens this year out of a queen from a swarm last year. I think she has some AMM genetics, so some days I like her and some days I want to put her in some alcohol. Temperament aside, she is the best in all other categories. Maybe some carni genes in a few of her daughters would be best. For now she will stay confined to her nuc box until I learn how to use a grafting tool this coming week. By the way, I moved her and a few frames of brood, etc., out of a 2 deep hive into a 5 frame nuc and much of the nasty temper went away. Interesting observation and I have been wondering if you have ever experienced the same results. Hive strength vs temperament. Thanks for writing David. Bryan