Home | About | Products | Blog

Feeding Bees


I installed a three-pound package into a TBH about three weeks ago. They have been accessing the feeder, but I’ve noticed on the newest comb what looks like sugar syrup in the cells. I’ve read elsewhere that they sometime store the provided syrup when fed. Other combs look like they have some honey in them. Everything is starting to bloom here (fruit trees and more)–should I stop feeding them at this point? Will the syrup even be usable by them when they uncap it, or will it spoil? I see a lot of eggs, larvae, and capped cells, so the queen has been working. I don’t want to hold them back, and don’t plan to harvest any honey this year–but I don’t necessarily want to encourage this, either.


I would stop feeding. If the weather is decent and trees/plants are blooming, pull the syrup. The syrup that is in the cells should be fine – don’t worry about it. I only feed in emergencies and then stop as soon as I am able.




Ok, thanks–it has been a late spring here, with not much blooming when I put them into the hive… that has changed now and they should have a lot of plants to choose from.


Ok, so now it has been almost a year and the hive is still alive (despite a major small hive beetle problem). I did not take any honey from them, but they did not build out very many combs during the year. I am somewhat concerned they may run out of food. Through the viewing window, I can see at least some full cells of honey on combs that have bees crawling on them–does that mean they still have adequate supplies? There are no obvious signs of distress like piles of dead bees inside or outside the hive–but I don’t really want to open it up right now to check.


I’m getting conflicting suggestions about feeding my bees (I know, I know the old adage ask two beekeeppers…). It is early spring in GA and I set up a new hive where the bees are busy making comb (no honey yet). One beekeeper told me to feed them sugar water all year the first year and take nothing from the five until the second year. They said feed sugar water in spring for a few weeks after that to supplement their diet. Now I am reading don’t feed them sugar water all year for a new hive. Please help me out here. What are the pros & cons? What is best for my bees?


Hello – There is a known divide in the beekeeping community of whether to feed, or not to feed. Most of us here at Bee Thinking take a natural (and we think conventional) approach that bees have been around for millions of years, without humans feeding them sugar water. Sugar water, too, inherently lacks nutrients and proteins commonly found in flower nectar and pollens. We understand there is a time and place for feeding; drought, wildfires, heavy rain seasons, that prevent bees from foraging for local food sources and that you might need to subsequently feed your bees until better situations arise.

Everyone is in agreement that you do not take honey your first year, you must get your bees to overwinter one season to ensure they can survive your local climate. In short, feeding bees is a relatively new behavior with beekeepers, and the decision can only be made by you the beekeeper if you want to feed or not. I hope the above information greatly assists!


Thank you for the info and for the insights. I have also noticed that my bees are eating less and less of the sugar water now that things are blooming. Might be an indication they are weaning themselves off the supplemental feeding. Your counsel is appreciated. I am inclined to follow your lead and do things more naturally.