Guide for Feeding Honey Bees

Feeding honey bees can be necessary sometimes, especially during adverse conditions. Although it’s generally best to let the bees gather food of their own. However, if for some reason there are inadequate sources of honey, abnormalities in the environment or any other reason the bees are not able to fed on their own, then you can create your own formula for feeding honey bees.

When feeding honey bees, you will need to consider many different factors. There are different types of feeders available in the market and you have to choose your desired one. Sugar combinations in feeds vary depending on the time of the year you are feeding honey bees sugar water.

Feeding Honey Bees

There are some common steps and considerations that you need to know before you start feeding honey bees. Here we are describing more about the steps.

Choose Feeder

First of all, you have to choose the right feeder for feeding honey bees. There are different types of feeders available for feeding your honey bees. Frame, Boardman, inverted and Miller feeders are the common type of feeders that are generally used for feeding honey bees.

Frame Feeder

The frame feeder is the most common type of bee feeder that are used by the beekeepers. The frame feeder can be made of either wood or plastic. Whatever you select, don’t forget to pick on in the 1-2 gallon range. Today, the frame feeder comes in a wide variety of features. For example, some models come with coarse siding to let the bees climb along the sides, some modes have floats for preventing the bees from drowning. There are also some frame feeder models available that are portioned into multiple frames that allow access for multiple hives.

Select the model depending on your needs, and you should look for ease of access. You should also consider the ability of opening up the feeder for changing the spoiled feed. And you should also learn from an expert about filling the frame feeder correctly.

Miller Feeder

Miller feeder is ideal for feeding many bees than other feeders. Miller feeders are actually much larger than average feeders with feed capacity of up to 5 gallons. The Miller feeders generally have open access, so the hive can fly throughout the feeder (or partitioned access so the bees can only get to the syrup).

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These partitions are really just trays with slots for bee access. But the trays need tight seals so foreign bees don’t drown in the syrup. You can pour the syrup into the trays at the ends, center, or all frames.

Boardman Feeder

You can use a Boardman feeder, instead of using frame or Miller feeders. Do this especially if you are worried about bees drowning. The Boardman feeder is actually shaped roughly like a large box, and it hold an upside-down mason jar full of the feed you intend to use. You have to put the jar in the entrance and the bees will wander up into the jar for the syrup. A Boardman feeder is actually easy to monitor, but you will have to shake off the bees from the jar to refill it.

Inverted Feeder

The inverted feeders are watercooler sized feeders which are made of wood. These feeders work with inverted mason jars or metal cans full of feed. The bees will fly into it if you place the jar of feed into the top entrance upside-down. The inverted feeder poses less of a drowning risk to the bees.

Mixing the Syrup

You have to feed your bees with different sugar to water ratio depending on the time of the year and also consider feeding purpose. Mix one part of sugar and 2 parts of water for stimulating egg laying. Use this mixture for feeding honey bees when there is enough honey available for the brood to feed on.

Mix equal amount of sugar and water to promote honeycomb building. For saving food for the winter, mix two parts sugar with one part water. You actually need to do this in the autumn.

Use warm water for dissolving sugar into the water. And let it cool before feeding honey bees.

Feed the Bees

After setting everything up and mixing the syrup, it’s time to feed the bees. Follow the steps mentioned below for feeding honey bees.

Wear Suit

You must have to wear a beekeeper suit before preparing to enter the feeder. There are different types of suits available in the market, and you will need to purchase a cotton-based suit for maximum comfort. A suit with leg zippers, knee pads, elastic wrists, double-ended main zipper and gusseted crotch will be good. While purchasing the suit, ensure it has many pockets including a holster for hive tools. Remember ‘most of the available suits are sting resistant, and not completely sting proof).

Smoke the Bees

You need to open the feeder for filling it with feeds. So before doing so, you will need to smoke the bees. Puff one or two spurts of smoke in entrance and along the top of the feeder. And before opening the hive, you should wait for one full minute. You can use an another puff or two, if you notice the bees are still agitated.

When there are no bees, open the feeder and refill it. That’s all! Good luck!

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