Feeding Your Honeybees

It’s often necessary to feed your honeybees, and it’s essential when starting your spring packages.  This can be done easily and inexpensively with sugar syrup.  The typical recipe for spring feeding is a 1:1 ratio (by weight) of granulated sugar and water.  That is, if you have a pound of sugar, mix it with a pound of water.  If you only have one or two colonies, making small quantities is sufficient.  If you have several colonies, it’s easier to make large batches.  I find it convenient to make my syrup in food-grade five-gallon pails.  Five gallons can be made up in just a few minutes.  Fifty gallons takes less than half an hour.  To make 5 gallons of syrup, simply pour in a 25-lb. bag of granulated sugar and add about 15 lbs. of hot water (this fills the pail to approximately two-thirds of its capacity).  Using a large ladle or even your hand, mix the sugar until it dissolves into the water.  Once it is dissolved, add the rest of the water.  It’s that easy!

If the pail sits for a long time, be sure to mix it thoroughly before use, since some of the sugar may settle to the bottom.


  1. When do I stop feeding my bees? I don’t want them to be dependent on me. I put a new nuc in one month ago and am still feeding. Two weeks ago I added a second hive body since the first was built out. Please advise.

  2. I would keep feeding until they draw the comb for the second hive body. If they are not consuming the syrup, you can stop feeding. Once the second box is filled and you are ready to put on a honey super, stop feeding.