When Should I Start Feeding My Bees Sugar Water?

Sugar water provides bees with an instantaneous source of energy; its ratio varies according to season.

Chewy Online Pet Supplies

35% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now

To feed your bees sugar water, mix 1 quart of sugar with one gallon of warm water until all sugar crystals have dissolved, and allow the solution to cool before drinking it up.



Supplemental feeding may be necessary at certain points during spring, such as when installing packages of bees or when weather has prevented foraging activities from taking place.

Sugar water is the go-to supplemental feeding method, consisting of equal parts white granulated sugar and water in 1:1 proportion. Honey bee colonies accustomed to collecting nectar mimic its characteristics by collecting this white-sugar solution; bees could become sick from any bacteria present in molasses or brown sugar which would compromise their health or kill them altogether.

Sugar water can easily be created by heating some water just below simmer and adding sugar crystals. Stir until these have completely dissolving before cooling it completely and feeding to your bees through feeder or entrance into their hive. Supplemental feeding should continue until natural sources of nectar become available – make sure not to feed bees honey that has not come from your own hives as this may contain disease organisms that could harm their health.


In summer months, offering your bees some sugar water can help prevent brood loss due to starvation before natural nectar becomes available. Add an additive such as Honey B Healthy (available on Amazon) with spearmint and lemongrass essential oils that stimulate bees for best results.

Depending on the season, the ratio of sugar to water required to create bee syrup varies accordingly. It is generally best practice to mix equal parts granulated sugar and water into a 1:1 solution; using hot water helps dissolve any remaining crystals of sugar.

Feeding bees is typically achieved by placing sugar water in a feeder near their entrance. You can make your own feeder by punching several small holes into a canning jar lid; bees can access this source of sustenance when turned upside-down; it works best during spring, summer and fall months.


My area does not support late winter or early spring feeding of syrup to honeybees due to temperatures rarely rising above 50o F (-10o C), coupled with cold nights. The bees will simply reject it!

Fall is often a difficult season for weak or new colonies, especially if conditions during the summer were hot and dry. Supplemental feeding may be required until natural forage becomes available again. This is particularly true if summer was particularly harsh on natural forage production.

To create simple sugar syrup, start with granulated cane or beet sugar and combine it with water until just short of boiling, before stirring to dissolve the sugar completely. This produces two parts sugar to one part water in syrup form. Some beekeepers feed this through entrance feeders while others may opt for top feeders or frame boxes equipped with screen bottom boards and inner covers – these options offer the safest method while being least likely to attract robbers.


In late winter and early spring, feeding bees sugar syrup might not work because its temperature won’t increase during the day like it does during warmer weather.

Soap in this climate is likely to rapidly develop mold that bees will not consume, rendering feeding syrup pointless unless placed directly within reach of their cluster on one of those rare warm days.

Some beekeepers use a dense syrup made up of two parts sugar to one part water during winter to give their bees an additional source of sustenance when their stores run low, while others opt for providing emergency winter food via frame of capped honey taken from another colony or stored during the fall as emergency winter feed. It’s easy to figure out how much sugar needs to be mixed with the water by taking an empty pint container, filling it up with sugar, weighing it again, then repeating until your ratio closes near 1 pound of sugar per gallon of water.