Feeding Honey Bees in Winter

feeding honey bees in winter

As winter draws near, it’s time to start feeding your honey bees. The best time to start is when the temperature falls below 50degF. Feeding sugar syrup with a 2:1 sugar/water ratio is a great way to keep your hives supplied with the energy they need. Be sure to check your hives every few days to see how they’re doing. If they’re feeling light, move their frames of honey closer to the cluster.

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Hard candy or fondant

Winter bees require a source of nutrition. You can use hard candy, a type of candy that does not contain water, as a winter feeding material. Some products also include protein, which can help your bees to thrive during the winter months. Hard sugar is also easier to handle and easier for bees to digest.

To make a hard candy, you need to prepare a form or mold. This mold will help you pour the molten fondant into a shapely bee candy. Make sure the form is the right size for your honey bees.

Capped honey

Using capped honey to feed your honey bees is an effective way to feed them during winter. In this period, bees often don’t produce as much honey as they would in the summer and may need additional sources of nutrition. In addition to honey, capped honey contains a protein called galactose, which is a vital nutrient for bees.

To feed honey bees in the winter, use frames that are suitable for storing honey. Generally, you can store 5.7 pounds of honey in a deep frame. If you’re using frames, use one to four frames per frame. In addition to honey, bees also need pollen for brood rearing.


Pollen is an essential food source for honey bees. It is their only source of protein and is abundant during the early spring and fall. Bees need this food to grow into strong winter bees. However, if you’re looking to increase your bee population during the winter, you may need to find other ways to increase your colony’s food supply.

Pollen availability is a major factor in whether a colony produces enough honey to survive the winter. When pollen is plentiful, colonies will begin rearing winter bees in late September. But when it’s scarce, colonies will begin rearing winter bees early.

Early foraging

Early foraging for honey bees in the winter is critical to ensuring their survival. Bees typically reduce foraging in the winter months and do not start foraging until four to 24 days before the end of the winter season. Foraging behavior can be tracked using a variety of tools and techniques. Several automated systems have been developed to measure individual bee foraging performance. These systems, however, are difficult to deploy and provide only limited data for full-strength bee colonies. More comprehensive assessments of honey bee foraging behavior are needed to inform environmental policy-making.

In some cases, early foraging is caused by a lack of nutrition, or by an extended early warm spell. These conditions can increase the vulnerability of bees to disease and stress. Early foraging can also provide early pollen, which can help with brood rearing and feeding. However, many plants that produce pollen early in the winter season don’t produce nectar, which is essential for adult bees to survive.

Ventilated supers

In winter, beekeepers often use ventilated supers to provide additional food for their colonies. These work much like a feeding shim, but they allow bees to store winter food in the form of fondant. This makes it easier for beekeepers to gauge whether their bees need more food or not. It only takes a few minutes to check if a super is full of fondant and whether bees need more food.

Another reason to use a ventilated super is to keep moisture out of the bees’ hives. Bees generate moisture and heat, and this moisture will rise to the top of the hive, hitting the inner cover. If the inner lid is cold in winter, the humidity will remain trapped there. This can result in condensation on the underside of the cover and on the bees below. This wetness can have a significant impact on bees’ ability to maintain their body temperatures.

Pollen-rich combs

Adding Pollen-rich combs to your hive in winter is an effective way to feed your honey bees. Honey is rich in pollen and is the best food for bees during the winter months. However, if you want to provide them with additional food sources, you can also supplement their winter diet with sugar syrup. The best type of sugar to use is pure white refined sugar.

A single fully-covered comb can contain between 1800 and twenty-four hundred bees. During warm weather, two fully-covered combs will yield around one pound of bees. But in winter, bees may cram themselves into smaller clusters.

Open feeding

Although open feeding is convenient, it can be dangerous for your hive. To avoid this danger, you should close the entrance of your hive and provide a feeder inside it. The feeder can be a hive-top feeder or an entrance feeder. The feeder will hold the sugar water mixture for the bees.

You should also avoid feeding wild bees in cold weather. This is because each type of insect has a unique survival strategy and feeding them may cause them harm. Honey bee colonies start clustering at 57 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also when it is time to stop feeding them liquid.