Bees not using top feeder

Hello. It is autumn here in Australia. I got my hive nearly 3 weeks ago, and last week I gave them a Ceracell Topfeeder to prepare them for winter. The only thing is I haven’t seen them use it yet.

Is it because they would rather the flowers instead as of now?

Plus how often do I need to replace the 1:1 sugar water if they haven’t been drinking it?

Thank you kindly, Tom

Could be, or could just be a bit cold for them. I would suggest asking them, but that wouldn’t be very helpful…

That should be 2:1 (sugar to water) or 5:3 if you want something easier to dissolve. 1:1 is spring or summer feed. The bees have to use energy to dehydrate the syrup for longer term storage. If you give them 1:1, that is a lot of work. Most nectar is closer to 2:1, so if you give them more concentrated syrup, it helps them out.

I do 2 other things with my syrup feeds, which are not commonly used by most beekeepers, but I have my reasons. Firstly, while I am boiling the water, I add a couple of “petals” from a star anise spice pod. This gives the feed a scent which bees seem to equate with food. The other thing I do is add a scant half teaspoon of Ascorbic Acid powder (Vitamin C) to the syrup once it is cool. This acidifies the syrup making it closer to nectar, and it also beautifully inhibits mold growth.

I only replace syrup if it is getting moldy, but that only happens if they aren’t taking it. In that case, you need to ask yourself why they aren’t taking it. Assuming that you have scented and acidified a nice concentrated syrup, the remaining questions are - is there a nectar flow, or is it too cold?


!t has been cool days but not cold enough for the bees to bunker down. I shall replace the mixture in a couple of days with 2:1. As I have just inspected them I do not want to distrub them too much. They were actually bringing in more nectar than I first thought aswell. Also reduced the entrance like I said in my previous post.

Thank you

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You are welcome. One other thought. The most common mold in syrup is black stringy stuff. Just in case you were wondering what to look for… :blush: It usually starts growing after about 1-2 weeks. In my Vitamin C syrup, I have kept it at room temperature for 6 weeks with no mold growth :wink:

Just checked this morning and finally after around 3 days they have started to eat the mix! Once they have eaten it all I will replace it with the new 2:1 mix

Hi Tom,
We’re having a fairly warm autumn, so I wouldn’t be too bothered if you’re bees aren’t going for the sugar syrup. I’m not in Melbourne (west of Geelong), but mine are still pretty active. The week ahead is even warmer, so maybe remove the feeder and replace with 2:1 or 5:3 after Easter. If you’re concerned, give it to them earlier - they’ll take it or leave it.

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Thank you for the advice. They have nearly cleaned out the 1:1 mix. I found a few drowned bees in it (around 5) which is unusual since the ceracell topfeeder should prevent this. I am soon going to put in a 2:1 mix in and clean out the dead bees.

It is odd since outside I can hear the bees humming but when I check the landing board I don’t seen any pollen pants at all, but when I inspected recently I found lots of cells full of pollen.

Bit of a conundrum if I should continue feeding them or not, as we are still nearly 2 months from winter, but the are using the feed so far.

One more question, what does sugar water mold look like?

There are 2 types of food that bees forage on. One is pollen, the other is nectar. When they are foraging for pollen they fill their pollen pants (corbiculae). When they are foraging for nectar, they don’t put any pollen in the corbiculae. Any one bee only forages for one type of food at a time. If you aren’t seeing any pollen on the bees, they could still be foraging for nectar. If the comb inside the hive is not full of honey or pollen, I would continue to feed them until they don’t take it any more, or the comb is full.

As I said above, it is usually black stringy stuff :wink: It can be white fluff too, but the black wisps are more common in my experience. However, getting some Vitamin C powder from a health food store (or Amazon) and adding half a teaspoon per 2 liters will stop all mold in my hives, and it is good for the bees :blush:

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will do, just noticed some gunk in the feeder, but I think it was just from the bees that got into it somehow!

Thank you again Dawn!

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