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Can you overfeed?


I live in Australia, heading into winter. The nectar flow ended months ago and the nights are getting cold.

i got my nuc 3 months ago, at the tail-end of the flow. I realised that I wasn’t going to harvest any honey this season, so my aim was to build up my colony for winter. Lately, I have been feeding 2:1 syrup on-and-off. At 3 months, they have filled 7 out of my 8 frame brood box. Tried a second brood box for a few weeks, but they weren’t interested, so I have removed.

A few weeks back, there was solid brood, a bit of pollen and not much honey.

Now there is a lot of capped honey, almost zero stored pollen and not much brood. Even the centre frames have only about 10-20% capped brood. Lots of bees, queen is present, and some eggs and larvae.

My concern: I seem to have a lot of honey stores but not much brood going into winter.

My questions:
Is it normal pattern for going into winter?
Or am I feeding too much syrup?
Should I buy/feed pollen?


Hi Rob, the general rule here is a frame of honey to a frame of brood to get through winter. Do you have much forage at the moment where you are? Can’t really overfeed but there is a risk that the stored honey will block the queen from laying. Might be best to lay off the feeding now and check again on a warm sunny day in a few weeks time. Put a winter mat on top of your frames and a roof (if you bought the full flow then you already have one) the colder your bees are the more honey stores they will consume.


Hi guys, I’m also interested in this. Our pollen and nectar has dropped way off and it’s the first winter of our first hive. Still have to get our head around what’s best to do. (I put a tarp over the frame that the hive sits in and the bees started exhausting themselves against it. Lost at least a dozen so off with the tarp again). Definitely looking at doing a feed of pollen or protein (soy flour/yeast etc.) from what my research tells me they can’t live on the syrup carbs alone. There are a number of recipes on line and in books. Yesterday I gave a 2:1 syrup from brown sugar and they went ape-s++t over it!!. Might take the super off too if they have’t started on it to reduce vacant space in the hive and keep them warmer. Have to cover the top board hole into the roof and reduce the entrance size for insulation. Tossing up the idea of actually putting some insulation in the roof (straw) too!

I’m leery of checking the brood frames again as we have already pulled out 3 times since we got them in Jan but may just have to in order to have a proper winter plan in place.

Off to find some soy flour…


Hi Nick, stay away from brown sugar, thats not good for the bees and will give them dysentery or worse … death! If you feed, give them refined white sugar at 2:1 at this time of the year. What is your bee population like? and their honey stores? How many brood boxes are they occupying? How many honey frames have been filled compared to the amount of brood frames in the hive? As for pollen, are you seeing bees coming in with pollen, best method is to check your brood frames at the warmest part of the day to see how much pollen has been stored, pollen can also be found on the outer frames sometimes.
To be honest, if you got your bees in Jan, thats ample time for them to populate up to survive the winter. Are you in an urban environment or country/rural? Australia is great for bees and most people can get a harvest from a package of bees in a few months so I wouldn’t stress too much. I live in an urban setting and only feed package bees for 2-3weeks at the most so they can build comb, after that they are on their own and no longer need assistance, they resilient little creatures and will survive in extreme conditions.


:scream: noooooo!

God, they emptied the bag (2 cups/1 cup) overnight!!! and just gave them another one of raw sugar this time!! :cry:

Me dummy as I now remember being told this before! What are the typical signs of dysentry Rod? I know what death looks like. God I hope I haven’t killed the hive…

Last time I looked only brood frame populated/waxed. Still 1 frame empty. Very little pollen coming in. Only 1 brood box (8 frames). We all live in semi rural (1.5 acres) lotsa bush.



Nothing you can do now, leave them be. Signs of dysentery will be brownish bee poo down the sides and on the front of your hive. Just change over to refined sugar, you won’t kill the whole hive just a few bees here and there so no need to panic.