Feeding Your Packages

When starting your spring packages, it’s important that they have plenty of nectar and pollen.  Since pollen is abundant in the spring, pollen patties are usually unnecessary but they will certainly not hurt the colonies if you decide to use them.  Nectar is often abundant, too, but supplementing the colony’s diet with sugar syrup is a good idea, since it will stimulate the colony to increase brood rearing and comb production.

The best recipe for spring feeding is a 1-to-1 ratio of water and sugar (by weight).  It can be mixed in any clean container.  Tap water is sufficient and only granulated sugar should be used, since other types of sugar may not be digestible by the bees.  Never use confectioner’s sugar. To make syrup on a slightly larger scale, use clean food-quality five-gallon pails.  Pour a 25-pound bag of sugar into the pail and fill with hot water.  No matter what quantity of syrup you make, be sure that the sugar is completely dissolved into the water by stirring it thoroughly.

Select a feeder that works for your situation.  If you have only a few colonies, an entrance feeder is fine, but you will have to replenish the syrup regularly.  For several colonies, a division board feeder is probably the best option. Remove one or two outer deep frames and substitute the feeder.  Fill the feeder to the top with syrup.  If the feeder does not have a system by which the honeybees can rescue themselves if they fall into the syrup, place a few small sticks into the syrup.  The sticks will float on top, allowing the bees to climb onto them if they fall in.

Check your feeders regularly and refill them whenever needed to give them a good start.  If you do this, you’ll go a long way towards establishing healthy, vigorous honeybee colonies that will be good honey producers and have increased chances of overwintering.