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What is the deal with the different ratio of syrups? I've seen it mentioned a 1:1 and 2:1 and so on. Is this syrup that you make yourself with granulated sugar? If so how is it made and when do you use 1:1 and when do you use 2:1? Also, I've heard that you don't want to leave the syrup in the feeder too long. How long is too long?
 

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Sport:

1:1 syrup is used in the spring to kick start the bees and the queen in laying. The syrup kinda acts like a honey flow and she starts to lay. The bees take the feed and use it as energy to pull out comb. 1:1, depending on your weather conditions and seasons, is used in the Spring and throught summer, depending on your flows. Syrup is also great to use if you want to work toward a split. For example, in my area, I start feeding in mid Feb depending on the weather. This year, it wasent bad with the cold so I started feeding. The population in the hive will explode and I will mke splits in April. I hope to at least


2:1 is used in the fall/early winter. This is a heavier syrup and instead of acting like a flow (to kick start the queen in the spring) it is harvested by the bees and stored for winter.

In our area, we try to have all the feed off by Thanksgiving time. We than switch to a candy/fondant and put a peice into each hive just for insurance reasons (to make sure they have enough feed). You want to try to stop using syrup and either stop feeding or go to a candy mixture before the cold really hits. The bees do not take liquid feed in the winter time, IMO.

So 1:1 in the spring and summer and 2:1 in the fall and early winter.

Hope this helps.
 

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Hi Sport,

1:1 or 2:1 refers to the ratio of granulated sugar to water. I's easy to make yourself. I heat the water to "hot" without boiling it and then add enough sugar to make the right mix. Let it cool before you put it in your feeders. When I mix a bunch, I store it in the fridge.

1:1 is a lighter syrup and is often used to stimulate the bees in the spring. 2:1 is closer to a honey consistency and many beekeepers use it in the fall or even winter to increase stores. Bees have an easier time turning 2:1 into "honey" than 1:1.

Syrup can mold so we check it from time to time and replace it when necessary.

Recipes vary a little and are typically well covered in these forums. I use the "a pint is a pound" method which means that a 1:1 syrup is 5 lbs. of sugar and 10 cups of water (5 pints). You'll be pretty safe to just use a cup of water for each cup of sugar when making 1:1.

One last note. Medication can be added to your syrup as well as various other supplements. Choice of feeders varies and much information can be found by searching previous posts.

Here's a wiki link that might be useful. It also has other feeding recipes:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Beekeeping/Recipes_for_the_Bees
 

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I might additionally add that you bring the water to the hot point, add the sugar, stir, and bring back to the hot point. Personally, I bring it back to a boil as to make sure all of the sugar disolves.

To prevent molding of the sugar syrup, I use a little apple cider vinegar. This prolongs the process.
 

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one more thang.... you want to watch your bees and stores throught the last part of winter and beggining of spring as the ability for the bees to starve increases as the weather gets warmer and the the days get longer. Make sure you have a plan to feed to prevent this happeneing.
 

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Chef, sounds like you feed your bees all year long!

I might add that feeding is a philosophical thing. I personally don't keep bees to use up my excess sugar, I keep bees to make honey and so feeding for me is something I only do when the bee's survival requires it. Typically this is in early spring if necessary before the flow starts to stave off early season starvation and again in the early fall to boost their winter stores if necessary. Occasionally splits and nucs will need feeding. I only feed as much as is necessary, never more, and usually less.

I also believe it's bad to force feed them syrup in the fall. Even 2:1 syrup has a lot of water in it and that is bad for winter feed. You want them to have plenty of time to cure and cap it. This means starting early enough. From my experience, bees don't winter well on uncapped, uncured syrup. It tends to crystalize quickly and ferments come spring then drips out of the combs and all over the bees and everything else and makes a mess, attracts ants and other bugs, and smells bad. Can't be good for them.
 

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George:

Evidently it's bad for bees to feed late in the season. Feed is an insurance policy. If your bees have 30 pounds of honey to overwinter on and require 60 and you feed them up to 59 pounds and you lose 1/2 of them to starvation, you've wasted a lot of sugar time and effort and now you nedd to replace the 1/2 that died. Now if you feed them to 65 pounds, none starve and you have not wasted your effort or the bees efforts.

Jean-Marc
 

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I feed late in the fall for the purpose of preventing aster honey from cystalizing in the comb. For stimulating brood build-up in the spring a 2 parts water to 1 part sugar solution is often recommended (I use this). It really doesn't matter that much what ratio you use. The big decision is to feed or not to feed. I usually feed as it doesn't seem to hurt and I like to work big strong colonies in the spring. Commercially, I think people base the decision on the relative cost of HFCS/labor/extraction vs the price of honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So if I got this straight, feed 1:1 this spring when I get the package and this will promote brood and wax building. Then when do I stop feeding and let the flowers take over? Will the bees just stop taking the syrup? Also, how long can I leave syrup in the feeder? Days or weeks? Does it matter what kind of feeder I use? Right now I have a top feeder, but I read somewhere about using zip-lock bags.
 

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You have it right...1:1 in the spring to get things going. You can stop feeding when the girls start bringing nectar in. I don't know your area but check with local beekeepers for when you get your first good flow. Last year, my bees stopped taking syrup as soon as the weather got warm. George is right. Bees should be collecting nectar and making honey. Syrup is what you to help nature along!

If your bees are taking a lot of syrup in, it won't last long enough to go bad. Last fall, I supplemented 2:1 and they'd clean out 2 gallons in a week. Chef Isaac gives good advice regarding adding a little vinegar. That'll slow mold down. Just pop the top once in a while on your top feeder and take a peek. So, you can leave it on somewhere between days and weeks.

Zip lock bags, laid across the top bars with small slits on top for the bees to sip from will work fine. Don't overfill. You might need to use a shim to give yourself some space for the bag between the super and the cover. Again, don't overfill. A shim is a short "riser" that creates a little extra space. If it were me, I'd use the feeder I have. If you're worrying about the syrup going bad, don't put so much in. If they use it...add more. If they don't, you're not wasting much.

Does this help?
 

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>So if I got this straight, feed 1:1 this spring when I get the package

Yes, I didn't mention packages and nucs. They can use feed for a while as they're drawing comb. Here in Maine, "package season", which also corresponds with "mud season" and which is otherwise known as the pretty flowery sounding name "May" is actually often very cold and wet. New colonies not only appreciate feed, they likely require it, more so than an established colony. I'd even feed nucs to get them going good.
 

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George doesn't mention the wonderful black fly season that often begins in and around the month of May in Maine. In between intense encounters with that wonderful insect, many New England beekeepers receive and hive packages of bees on straight foundation. Syrup is quickly converted to comb so think of it as fuel for wax building. The quicker you get decent comb, the faster you get brood, pollen and honey. Bees on fully drawn comb have less work to do inside the hive.
 
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