Bees not eating sugar syrup

Other than having plenty of stores. Is there reasons why bees won’t eat sugar syrup?

Last two pre-winter feeds using 1:1 mix have been barely touched.

Number of bees in hive have dropped as expected heading into the UK early winter months but honey stores aren’t overly abundant by any means.

Once the night time temperature drops below 55F (13C) bees tend not to accept syrup, especially 1:1. They can’t really dry down dilute syrup by fanning when the weather is colder. Normal autumn feed is 2:1 (sugar to water), although I use 5:3 because it dissolves more easily. Even then, they won’t take it readily when the weather cools down.

You need to use fondant or even just dry white granulated sugar. :blush:


Always appreciate the advice Dawn.

Suns out so off to stick some fondant in.

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May I ask how you are feeding them sugar syrup. Or rather what equipment you use.

I am south of you by maybe 70 miles as crow flies. Bees are flying but not so many. Queen was laying up to 7 days ago. Bees collecting pollen. Mine still taking sugar but I am using an ashworth feeder so it gets some heat from the bees. The feeding is reducing. I have fondant ready but not on.

I have just looked at your day and night temps and the rain forecast. They may fly at dry intervals but that’s not so often. Later in week odds are good. Sugar syrup is as Dawn says although that’s advised as 1kg sugar (or 1 bag) to 600 ml water in U.K. terms.

I will continue to leave sugar on until later in October. But my sugar is inside the hive and hive now as from last Wednesday has both roof insulation in and an external foil insulation wrap. So as you are north midlands you should be at same stage.

Last thing I will do before total winter prep complete is add fondant right on top of frames, check and if necessary clean off mesh floor (which is removable without disturbing or lifting brood boxes) and fit foul weather Perspex shield above entrance.

My hive is a standard brood and a super or shallow box. I put the fondant on top of the top box not between the two boxes. I use a very shallow eke. I cut the bag fully open on one side but leave plastic on top. I cannot tell you if this is the best practice. But at the moment it’s what I do. It does mean I can remove roof and crown board and do a very very quick check in January.

Standard rapid round feeder over cover board hole. Using an empty broad box ontop to allow the Flow hive roof to fit over.

I thought 1:1 at this time of year is best as less work for the bees.

Are you and Dawn suggesting 2 parts sugar to 1 part water? Or the opposite?

Never had the bees not take sugar syrup so far feeding the same method just last two feeds. About 4 weeks now with very little gone from the feeder.

Entrance is reduced to keep in heat and prevent robbing.

Bees are still out and about on dry days and like yourself bringing in pollen.

Two parts sugar to one part water, or 1kg sugar to 600ml water is fine too as @MrTF says. The exact proportions are not critical - bucket chemistry is fine (within reasonable limits). That is standard autumn feed, but once it gets below 13C they are better off with fondant. Remember that MrTF is quite a way south of you, so your bees may be more into winter mode than his. Personally, I think you have done the right thing with the fondant. :blush:

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