One thing that many people don’t realize is that you need to spend the first few months of each season feeding honey bees to help them get established. Early in the spring there may not be enough nectar and pollen to keep the entire colony going.
So how do you feed honey bees? With sugar water!
The three things that we use to feed out bees:
- and a Pail Feeder
You should be able to get a basic pail feeder wherever bee equipment is sold.
You want to feed the bees a mixture that is half water and half sugar. So start by filling your pail feeder half way with water.
Stir stir stir, mix mix mix.
You’ll notice that the syrup will start to thicken, which is good.
Stop, hammer time.
Next you want to add the lid to the pail. The key is that it has to be REALLY tight, otherwise you run the risk of having your sugar water all spill out when you flip the pail upside down. For this, we simply take a hammer and tap the lid shut so that it creates a nice, tight seal.
Add the feeder to your hive. It’s best to flip the pail upside down AWAY from the hive, since some of the sugar water will spill out at first and you don’t want to soak the hive. After a second or two all of the sugar water will move to the top of the pail causing a vacuum that won’t allow any more air to get in and therefore no more sugar water to pour out.
And that’s it. The bees can smell the sugar water and know exactly what to do with it.
You need to keep an eye on the pail feeder since the bees can go through the sugar water more quickly than you’d think (a friend of ours had his bees empty the pail feeder within 3 days). So far we’ve been checking on our hives once a week and have been able to refill the feeder before it’s been completely emptied.