Be sure understand that this post is for sustaining hives and keeping the honey bee alive. You don’t want to keep a feeder on your hive year-round. When feeding bees, it is the sugar, not the water that the bees need. By mixing the sugar with water at different ratios, the beekeeper can encourage certain behaviors. Below are sugar syrup recipes from Keith Tignor, State Apiarist, and the actions they stimulate within the hive. Also included are candy recipes and instructions for dry sugar feeding used as emergency winter food when temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sugar syrup can be made in three different strengths, each has its own purpose and is used at a specific time of the year. We recommend using white granulated cane sugar if possible. Avoid, brown sugar, beat sugar, powder sugar, or honey. Remember never feed the bees while honey supers are in place.
These recipes are a simple syrup that is poured into a entrance bee feeder or other feeder that made for feeding bees.
1:2 One Part Sugar to Two Parts Water: Used in the spring to stimulate egg laying. Use only when enough honey is available for feeding the brood:
1 pound sugar to 1 quart water
5 pounds sugar to 5 quarts water
Stir sugar into warm water until dissolved.
1:1 One Part Sugar to One Part Water: Used in the spring and summer to encourage comb building:
1 pound sugar to 2 cups water
5 pounds sugar to 2½ quarts water
Bring water to a boil and turn off heat. Stir in sugar until dissolved and cool.
I do not feed my bees in the summer but am including the information because some beekeepers do.
Fall and Winter when temps are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
2:1 Two Parts Sugar to One Part Water: Used in the fall to increase food stores in preparation for winter:
1 pound sugar to 1 cup water
5 pounds sugar to 5 cups water
Bring water to a boil and stir in sugar. Continue stirring over heat until all crystals dissolve. Remove from heat and cool. Each gallon of syrup increases the colony’s reserves by about 7 pounds
For more information on caring for bees refer to: Beekeeping 101: A Beginners Guide To Raising Honey Bees