Feeding Honey Bees Sugar Water

honey bee sugar water

When it comes to revitalizing an exhausted honey bee, offering sugar water on a spoon may help. But be mindful that making this a regular practice could actually harm their health!

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Beekeeping necessitates using clean, filtered water in order to avoid bacteria and mold growth.


It is easy to make

Sugar water for bees is an easy and quick way to provide them with nourishment and hydrate them during times of bee famine, new colonies or sick bees. However, proper preparation of their diet must be considered; otherwise incorrect feeding and storage could result in weak and diseased bees.

At minimum, it is advised to use a 1:1 ratio between sugar and water, measured either in terms of weight or volume. You should then bring both ingredients to a simmer in order to prevent caramelization which could render your final product indigestible.

Sugar water can easily be made by mixing equal portions of white granulated sugar and hot water in equal portions, and stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. This quick and simple way of providing honey bees with energy they require can also include essential oils like lemongrass or spearmint which may help inhibit mold growth as well as decrease pests like Varroa mites or chalkbrood which thrive off sugar water sources.

It is easy to store

Sugar water is a primary energy source for honey bees. Its shelf life can last several days depending on temperature and storage methods, though for maximum bee protection it must be stored in a cool, dark location and changed regularly to prevent predators or hazards from finding sustenance there.

Sugar water can provide beekeepers with a temporary feeding solution during drought, cold temperatures and other conditions that inhibit their bees’ ability to forage for nectar and pollen sources. Sugar water may be used as an attractive lure that encourages bees to move to new hive locations or convince lone or sick bees that may need encouragement to join up – however this should never replace nutritious pollen or nectar; moreover it may contain spores from American Foulbrood Disease, so best wait until there is enough food stored up for winter if possible before feeding sugar water to your bees!

It is easy to feed

Though feeding honey bee colonies sugar water may not be ideal, it can save the lives of new colonies or bees who cannot forage. Furthermore, sugar water provides an effective solution for building up food stores or winter preparation in a hive. Ideally made up of natural ingredients – like 1:1 mixture of sugar and water or pollen substitute. High fructose corn syrup and boiled sugar contain harmful high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) levels which should be avoided in favour of natural solutions such as 1:1 mixture of sugar + water or pollen substitute. High fructose corn syrup/boiled sugar solutions contain harmful HMF levels so should be avoided for optimal performance in bee colonies.

Beekeepers should only provide nectar or sugar water when their bees need it – for instance after installing a new package or when their hive becomes weak – not all day, since this could encourage bees to take short cuts and consume less pollen, leading them to forego creating new brood and reduce overall honey production. Leaving bowls of sugar water out all day may tempt bees into taking shortcuts with pollen consumption that would result in reduced honey production overall.

It is easy to prepare

There are various bee sugar water recipes, but the most widely-used one is 1:1 sugar:water syrup. You can measure this ratio either by weight or volume, but try to maintain its concentration throughout. In fall and winter when nectar sources are scarcer, more concentrated syrup may provide food to feed bees more efficiently.

Some beekeepers also add feeding supplements to their sugar water solutions in order to prevent it from turning moldy, while warding off mites and fungus. Although not necessary, such supplements should only be utilized when necessary.

Bee sugar water must be replaced periodically, particularly if it becomes cloudy or discolored, to ensure bees have access to a nutritious source of sustenance. Also pay attention to weather conditions and observe how often bees forage for nectar sources – this will allow you to determine when it is time to stop feeding them.