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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
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    93

    Default Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    My bees (2 hives) will arrive this Monday, the 31st! I am so excited I can hardly stand myself!

    I have everything ready to go, except food.

    I was going to by gallons of distilled water and I wanted to be SURE I have this correct, so please give advice!

    It's a 1:1 ratio, correct? So, if I were to make a gallon of syrup, I would use 8 cups of water and 8 cups of sugar, right???

    I am using the styrofoam feeder, that will be sitting on top of my 1st brood box, is a gallon enough to start off with? I had read somewhere that I should start off with 1 quart?

    Any pointers on this feeding info? I know my inner cover will go right over top of this styrofoam box, correct? Then my metal top.

    I just want to make sure I have the feeding, and syrup making down. My books have told me to get the water to a boil, and then right before it starts to boil, to turn off the stove, and add the sugar and stir it, then let it cool. I wanted to make this all a couple of days before. Please advise if I am wrong!!

    Thank you everyone, I am really excited about these 2 hives

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,668

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    You do not need distilled water. For 1:1 syrup you do not even need to heat it. Water and sugar have virtually identical weights/volumes. Just remember that "a pint's a pound the world around".
    They'll take it slowly at first. A gallon will last quite a while until their numbers increase.
    Have fun!
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Athens, OH
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    2,668

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    P.S.- With a top feeder I do not use an inner cover.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    Personally, I don't like styrofoam in my hives...seems to me like the bees could end up chewing it & causing damage to either the foam or themselves...but I tend to be a little paranoid about that kind of stuff, so take it with a grain of salt.

    As far as the syrup goes, feeding them a gallon right at first shouldn't hurt anything with package bees; they'll have a lot of comb to build, so it isn't likely to cause them to want to swarm, and if you're on a heavy enough flow that they can't use it, they'll simply not take any.

    For making syrup:
    I take a LARGE cooking pot (bigger than the amount of total syrup you want by at least 50% if possible);
    pour the water into the pot at room temperature, then add a little less sugar than I think will make 1:1 (by weight, so a bit less than cup-for-cup) and start stirring;
    once all the sugar dissolves, I add a little more & keep stirring;
    repeat until you can't get quite all of the sugar to dissolve;
    now turn on the heat under the pot & bring it to a slight boil for about 5-10min to kill any contaminants & bottle your syrup as it cools.

    By dissolving the sugar in ROOM TEMPERATURE water, you're assured that you're not creating a super-saturated solution that'll crystallize sugar onto your bees, which is the #1 way to mess up syrup feeding, with the only other real way you're likely to mess it up being that of not checking it before feeding & accidentally feeding fermented syrup to your bees (I refrigerate mine if I'm not planning on using it in the next day or two... just make sure it's over 50*F before you give it to your bees & there shouldn't be any problems there).


    Hope this helps
    Rob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    To go along with Rob you can use a drill and a paint/dry wall mud spinner to easily and quickly mix your sugar into your warm water.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    So I have been reading that feeding bees can cause swarming, deaths, yellow jackets, waspers and even robbing to happen. I am readying on the Bush Farms site and it says to not feed if possible? To let the bees do it on their own? The new hives that are installed have to be fed, right? Am I missing something totally here?

    The guy at the local Dadant store said the styrofoam feeder was the best feeder for me. We did paint the outside of it with white paint to keep it stable. I know that I will be removing the feeder soon, right? Probably after the first 7-8 frames in the first brood box are filled I guess?

    So many different answers to things!

    Thank you all for your help so far!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,590

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    This might be helpful for syrup calculations.

    Scroll down for the syrup calculator ...
    http://www.beekeeping.com/goodies/conversions_bee.htm
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Henry, Virginia
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    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    THANK YOU! Awesome link

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
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    388

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    To me, bees are low-tech. I fill the blender with water, take plain white sugar ("turbinado" and "brown" sugars have unwanted residues ...), pour a cup "or so" into it, and run it for a minute or so until the sugar is fully dissolved. And, "that's that."

    More often than not, though, I feed sugar that's dry. Confectioner's sugar (if it has no starch in it), or whip some granulated sugar in a coffee-grinder to make a powder. Putting it in an easy-to-get-to box that's sheltered from rain ... or, putting it inside the hive in a similar box or carton ... seems to give them food without making an unholy mess. (Very lightly dampening the surface seems to give them a clue that they need to taste the stuff.)

    Full disclosure: I might not have the faintest idea what I'm talking about. There are, of course, lots of conflicting opinions about how much syrup a hive of bees may require; or, if they require any syrup at all. It's always been my thought that, while I want to provide for my hives, I don't really want to coddle them. I don't want them to starve, but I also don't want to see 'em filling combs with my sugar-water. So ... "your mileage may vary," and I think that's a fair way to end it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bees4Us View Post
    So I have been reading that feeding bees can cause swarming, deaths, yellow jackets, waspers and even robbing to happen. I am readying on the Bush Farms site and it says to not feed if possible? To let the bees do it on their own? The new hives that are installed have to be fed, right? Am I missing something totally here?
    Generally, I would suggest feeding a new package, and if you read further, I think Michael Bush says to feed them "until they start capping syrup stores."
    Yes, it can cause swarming if you feed too much, or for too long.
    Yes, syrup that's too thick can crystalize on your bees, or syrup that's fermented can poison them...both causing deaths. ... that's why I mix at room temp, then heat to sterilize.
    Yes, if you put a feeder too near the entrance, or don't keep the entrance reduced enough, it can incite robbing by other honey bees, bumbles, wasps, etc...so keep your feeders on top, and your entrances on bottom.

    aside from that, everyone has an opinion, and I already shared mine, so I won't start an argument by repeating myself

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Swanzey, NH
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    I add 5lbs of sugar to a gallon milk jug...then top off with hot water....then shake until dissolved...and maybe a couple of times after that if any sugar settles to the bottom...this year I also added Honey B Healthy...I'm not sure if they don't like it or if they just don't need it...as my new package hasn't taken any yet. Last years girls sucked it up as quick as I could add it...

    Lisa Smith
    Indian Brook Farm
    Swanzey, NH

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
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    2,668

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    OK, here we go. 1:1 will not crystallize no matter how you dissolve it. Depending on your water source it wouldn't hurt to boil it ahead of time but heating syrup after sugar is added takes the chance of overheating and caramalizing (very bad for bees). I just pour sugar plus water in an oversize water jug and shake it. It keeps quite a while at room temperature, when in doubt, taste it. Don't stress about exact measurements.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MN, USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    I use tap water. Heat 2 quarts of water on the stove until hot but not boiling. I dump that into a food grade five gallon bucket and then add one gallon of warm tap water. Then pour in 10 pounds of sugar and mix with a large spoon or a paint mixing paddle until dissolved. (I use a plastic paint mixing paddle on the end of my 3/8" electric drill.) Pour in about half the sugar, then mix. When that's dissolved, pour in the other half and mix. You should end up with a little over two gallons of syrup. I add some essential oils to mine during the mixing process - similar to Honey-B-Healthy or the ProHealth products, but without the preservatives.

    I'd make a couple of gallons to start and plan to feed them a gallon right off the bat. I installed towo packages 10 days ago and each one has burned through 2+ gallons in that time. I topped them off before I left for a business trip today, and I expect they'll need to be refilled when I inspect on Saturday.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Henry, Virginia
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    I am going to a nature store tonight to pick up these items. What day would be best to make this syrup? Since I am getting them Monday, and plan to install them that evening, would Saturday or Sunday be the better day to make it? Can I also use it for the spray to use when I first get them??

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    Sat or Sun either one works, shouldn't make much difference. I often use 1:1+those 2 oils for spraying swarms before hiving them, or colonies before moving them to a different hive. So yes, I'd say it should work great for your package bees too.

    ...though I use about 1/5th as much of the oils myself, works fine for me weaker & for TNTBees stronger, so I'm guessing there's a pretty large "margin for error" on the oil amounts.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Radford,Va
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    For this years packages I am trying a 5:3 ratio. 10 lbs of sugar to 3 quarts of water. I checked the sugar levels after 7 days. Each hive had went through less than 3 quarts They are building good comb. I had read on a previous post that a little higher ratio would push up comb production and I would have to fill the feeders less often. Seems to be working so far.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Slinger, WI
    Posts
    204

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    When I make syrup I can the excess, just pour it into ball quart canning jars while it is still near boiling, turn the jars upside down for about 5 minutes to get the lid nice and hot, after 5 minutes turn right side up and let it cool, the jar will seal, and now it has an indefinite shelf life and can be stored at room temp.
    Steve Wenger
    Gentleman farmer/7 year Bee Keeper

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,922

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    I would feed a new package until they have capped stores. They are in the precarious position of having no comb and no stores. But feeding does have a dark side of bringing ants and robbers and drowning bees...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Windsor, Maine, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    Just my 2 cents worth, but I would not get too complicated. I use one pint of water to one pound of sugar. Or one pint of sugar to one pint of water. Close enough to the same thing. I always boil my water first and stir in the sugar with a big wooden spoon. Any kind of spoon would work. I just like the wooden ones. I would NEVER use any kind of motorized contraption to stir my syrup. You might splash some on yourself and get burned. If the water is boiling hot the sugar dissolves pretty easily. After it cools I put the syrup in plastic jugs, either 1 gallon or 1/2 gallon, whatever I have around. I fill them completely up and put the cover on. My syrup keeps for literally months, at least. I used some this spring that was left over from last year. The bees loved it. I tasted it myself. Not bad.
    Forget the distilled water. You don't need it. I always boil my water, but you can probably get by if you don't. I wouldn't know, as I have never not boiled it. You are NOT going to get the exact same volume as what you put in, as the sugar goes into solution with the water and you'll get less volume. ie: one gallon water and 8 lbs. sugar will not yield two gallons of syrup, more like one and 3/4 gallons or so.
    At this time of year I would NOT keep adding sugar until it doesn't dissolve. That is too thick of a mixture. You want 1:1 in the spring to stimulate comb building, egg laying, etc. In the fall you might want a thicker mixture like 2:1 or 5:3.
    Keep it simple! Feed the bees until they don't want it anymore, and you'll be fine. The bees will be fine, too.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gallatin, Montana, USA
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Help with making syrup to feed my bees!?

    I agree the simpler the better. Life is complicated enough. I have two top bar hives with two inverted 1 qt jar feeders in each. so a total of 4 qts. They go through almost the same amount of syrup. I make a double batch of the recipe I posted almost every other day. We live in the country and are on good well water. I don't boil the water. I just heat it enough to dissolve the sugar. I also make it a day ahead of time so it has time to cool and i fill the feeders early the next morning before the bee's are active. Our bloom hasn't really started yet. They are however bringing in pollen like crazy. They are both drawing comb like crazy and have 8 bars each going. They both have capped brood. I installed the packages two weeks ago today and have had less than perfect weather almost half of the time. In fact we have winter storm warnings for the next two days. So far so good and the bee's seem to be able to make up for my imperfections.

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