Feeding Your Bees
There are particular times of year when food access for bees is low. This is a good time to put out sugar water for them to supplement their food. Don’t place any out when the flowers are in bloom. The bees will pick up the sugar water and make it into low quality honey. You want to harvest honey made from the nectar of the surrounding wildflowers.
I recommend feeding bees in late winter and early spring. When the weather starts to warm up, but the flowers haven’t bloomed yet. This will give the bees a boost and have them ready to go when the flowers start blooming. Early spring is when most of my hives had died off from hunger. Feeding prevents this.
The next time is mid-summer. You don’t have to feed as much during this time, but there aren’t many flowers blooming during this period.
The last time to feed is late fall. Set as much feed out for your bees as you can while the weather is still warm enough. You want the hives full of food. This will allow your bees the best chance of surviving the winter.
There are all sorts of feeding methods. Hive top feeders, bucket feeders, bag feeders, frame feeders, front feeders, etc. I have used the below method with great success and it is very easy, especially if you have more than a few hives-
Pour a 25 lb bag of sugar into a 5 gallon bucket. Fill with warm water and mix. I use a concrete mixer attached to a powered drill.
Pour into a hive top feeder and just set it out for the bees. This acts as more of a public feeding trough for all of your hives.
This method keeps robbing from occurring and it keeps the sugar water from sitting around too long and causing the bees to drown in it. The sugar starts to ferment and the bees end up drowning in the mixture even with floats on the feeder. Even if you have just a few hives, they can drink 5 gallons of feed in a few hours on a warm day. It is incredible to watch.
This feeding method is quick, doesn’t require opening of hives, and allows you to put out a lot of feed out for them. Keeping bees well fed will keep your hives healthy and productive.