(Last Updated On: 22/05/2020)

Feeding Bees with Bruce White

A Step By Step Video

Learn to Feed Bees the right way. Featuring reasons for feeding bees, different feeders & mixes, how much honey is needed by your bees & a special demo showing how bees store syrup in the super & brood boxes. You can view it for free by clicking the play button below or visiting on youtube here.

A very special thanks to Bruce White OAM, for generously sharing his knowledge & time to make this video possible.

We feed bees sugar syrup only to sustain the colony

The important thing to remember is when we are talking about feeding bees sugar syrup, we are only feeding bees to sustain the colony and give the bees energy. We are not feeding bees to get honey. It’s always important to understand this point so there is no question that bees are fed sugar syrup to keep them alive, not to produce honey.

Video Contents

Chapters include:

00:00 feeding bees intro

00:15 reasons for feeding bees

00:39 3 different types of mixtures for feeding bees

00:50 spring mix for feeding bees

01:16 autumn mix for feeding bees

01:28 dry sugar moistened with water

02:14 how much honey is needed by bees heading into winter

03:09 where bees place sugar syrup

03:54 where bees store syrup in the super

04:55 where bees store syrup in the brood box

05:44 different methods to feed the colony

06:00 the frame feeder

07:18 filling frames with sugar syrup

08:56 internal feeder tray

10:45 PET bottle feeder

Video Transcript

The following is a transcript from the above video, Feeding Bees with Bruce White.

feeding bees intro & reasons for feeding bees

We’re talking about feeding sugar syrup to bees, so sugar syrup is the ideal replacement for nectar and honey when colonies run short of nectar or honey, or need to be stimulated. It’s also important that bees get protein in the form of pollen. So feeding sugar alone is not necessarily the answer particularly in the spring and summer when bees are breeding.

different types of mixtures for feeding bees

We use three different mixes of sugar syrup depending on the time of the year and the need.

spring mix for feeding bees

The first one is to stimulate colonies in the spring where we use 50% sugar and 50% water and make it into a sugar syrup. Heating the water up to melt the sugar and then feeding it in various feeders as we’ll see later on.

autumn mix for feeding bees

If we want to put stores on the colony we don’t want them to do a lot of work to reduce the sugar moisture content. Whereas we do in the spring to generate heat to make the bees breed. In the autumn time we feed 2/3 sugar and 1/3 water by volume.

dry sugar moistened with water

The other option is to feed white sugar under a lid on a mat and we just moisten the white sugar which makes it more attractive to bees and they don’t waste as much but you don’t need much moisture in it. This means the bees have got a lot less work to do to make it into honey. For stores, nectar is 70% moisture, the bees have to reduce it down to below 21% to make it into honey. And the same with sugar syrup. They need to get the moisture out of it so it won’t ferment. So there are three mixes. In spring and summer to stimulate the bees 50 percent by volume with sugar and water stores in the autumn two-thirds sugar one-third water or ordinary white sugar moistened.

how much honey is needed by bees heading into winter

To feed bees in winter you’re gonna need probably a full box of honey if you live on the tablelands because bees will consume more honey in the winter on the tablelands. Even though they’re hibernating they don’t get anything on the coast, so you probably need four or five frames of honey in the super because they’ve got to fly and get some food during the winter months. When you feed bees you need to feed them small quantities fairly regularly if you want to stimulate them. So one or two litres every second day.

If you want to put stores on them in winter you need to give them probably five or six litres in one hit so that they’ll store it and that will be much thicker syrup. 2/3 sugar 1/3 water stimulating 50/50 by volume.

where bees place sugar syrup

In this hive I just want to demonstrate where bees put sugar syrup. This type of feeder is called a bottle feeder and it fits in the entrance and I’ve put some food dye in just to see where bees put sugar syrup in a colony. Just to give you an idea as to where it goes. I’ll now open the hive up and we’ll have a look and see where the syrup has gone. I put some white combs in so white combs will show where the syrup goes. Whereas combs that have had brood in before are darker and you won’t be able to see.

where bees store syrup in the super

So we pull this frame out from the super and you’ll notice the blue cells where the syrup has been spread to the edge and along the bottom there above that is nectar that they’ve collected in the last week or so. And they haven’t mixed the coloured syrup with the nectar that they’ve collected on that frame.

Now look at another frame that I put in which was white frame and if we look at this frame we’ll see that they’ve put syrup all through their round there the capped honey’s been there before that was older honey. So they’ve spread that the syrup in different parts of the hive just like that.

where bees store syrup in the brood box

We’ll now look in the brood box to see where they put it in the brood box. Did they put any in the brood box or did they put all the syrup in the super which is the top box. Now take this off put it to one side and I put one more comb in here in the brood box so that we can see where the syrup went to I’ll pull that frame out and we’ll see you know what’s happened with it and we notice probably more in the brood box, the brood areas around there with his eggs and an odd sealed cell. But they put a massive amount above the brood that they’ve currently got in the colony and the same on the other side. They put the syrup spread around above the brood nest. I’ll now put that back together again and we’ll talk about how to feed the colony using different methods.

different methods to feed the colony

You feed the colony in the super when it’s light of honey. So this hive needed to be fed and I can feel the weight to tell it needs to be fed before I open it up. And we’ll go through some different methods.

the frame feeder

One method is to use a frame feeder like this you buy those from beekeeping supply places you pour sugar syrup in there for stores 2/3 sugar 1/3 water and you need floats of some sort polystyrene or something like that so the bees don’t drown. You fill that up and every second or third day you can fill it up because you want to put stores in.

If you want to stimulate the colony it’s a thinner syrup and every second or third day just one or two litres. The important thing is don’t allow syrup to stay in the container for any length of time this will ferment and yeast will get in there so if you look after two days if it hasn’t all been consumed by the colony you need to wash it and clean it to get rid of any yeast. But you certainly need polystyrene floats or some other type of float that’s called a frame feeder.

filling frames with sugar syrup

The other type you can do that I’ll talk about is to fill frames up with sugar syrup. So this is an empty frame here, there’s no nectar in it. To save buying any feeders I can fill this up with sugar syrup. So I make up my sugar syrup 2/3 sugar 1/3 water if it’s autumn time. And 50/50 if it’s spring time. So I just rain that into the cells like so. You need to spray it in like that so the air is expelled out of the cells and the cells will become full of sugar syrup.You can turn it around and that syrup won’t fall out. I’ll do that just demonstrate, so completely turned around it’s not falling out. I can do the other side the same like so until all the cells are full like that. So this saves you buying feeders or anything and that can hold two litres of sugar syrup. To prove it’s full I can shake it and shake the syrup out on the ground and you can see it’s raining out on the ground. So you’ve got to shake it out to get it out, it just doesn’t fall out. Because the cells are sloped backwards and that’s proof that the syrup is in that frame like that. Just put them in there do a couple on the spring and in the autumn until they cap the syrup over and then it becomes honey. And that gives them stores.

internal feeder tray

The other type of feeder that’s popular you know with some commercial beekeepers is this type of feeder it fits in when you take the frames out of a super. You pour sugar syrup in and you get polystyrene floats inside so the bees don’t drown The bees come up and get the syrup. Commercial beekeepers extracted honey there’s no honey flow could after that or fill this up to give their bees stores for winter and keep their bees alive. The other method that’s used is you know with an ordinary mat above a lid that’s got a gap above it. You put that there, you moisten sugar, just white sugar and the bees will come up and take that. In the autumn we want them to do the minimum amount of work to get the maximum amount of honey that they ripen the sugar from. And in the spring you know we stimulate them so therefore it’s thinner. The key thing is if there’s no pollen coming in particularly in spring and summer putting sugar syrup won’t keep bees alive in drought. Sugar syrup won’t keep bees alive unless there’s pollen. So you need to feed pollen as well to the colony in the form of paddies or pure pollen inside the colony. Some beekeepers put sugar syrup feeders out in the open and the bees fly to the sugar syrup feeders and collect the syrup that way. But by doing that you’ve got problems with feeding other people’s bees.

When you feed sugar syrup you got to be aware that ants are a problem. So you may need to take some corrective action to prevent ants attacking your hive. Because sugar syrup is attracting ants. Don’t spill any, don’t allow bees to rob because they’ll rob when you’re feeding sugar syrup particularly in the autumn.

PET bottle feeder

Another type of feeder is this type of feeder which is similar to the bottle feeder and that just slides in the entrance of the colony and the syrup goes down there doesn’t run out. It’s a bit like a chicken water feeder and the bees suck up the sugar syrup. The advantage of these types of feeders is that you can see how much is consumed and you can replenish it when the bees have taken all they need whereas internal feeders you can’t see that. Another way you can do it if you don’t want to buy special food is is to get a zip lock plastic bag. Partly fill it with sugar syrup, put a couple of pin holes in it and put it on a mat or on the top bars of the frames under a lid and the bees will suck the sugar syrup out of plastic bags.

This is the first set of a number of videos that members of the illawarra beekeepers Association are doing so that members can see first hand how different beekeepers carry out different operations for the management of their colonies over a 12 month period.”

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