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Feeding Sugar water

Thanks to everyone to chimed in on my last question about the bees on their oriantation flight… Now for my next newbee question… I have read mixed reviews on feeding my bees… This is my first hive and I just started it about 2 months ago. I have been very diligent on feeding the bees sugar water (about a quart every 3 to 4 days) the brood pattern in the hive is awesome (so far we have a great queen) Tons of forager bees always coming and going. My question is, when do I stop feeding them the sugar water and pollen patties? I have read anywhere from the first full year to don’t feed them at all… what does everyone recommend? Thanks for the help!

I don’t know what you installed - package or nucleus? For a nucleus, I only feed for the first week or so, if the nectar flow is not great. For a package, I would feed until they have a decent amount of comb drawn, say half a box worth.

In your climate, the nectar flow should be in full swing right now, and you certainly shouldn’t need to feed for more than a month unless that changes. So I would say that right now, it seems unnecessary to continue feed.


I installed A 3lb package into a 10 frame box… they seem to be doing very well right now (knock on wood) I have seen what appears to be 2 orientation flights already so I know at least 2 large brood batches have hatched!

In that case, I definitely would not feed them any more. Nectar is better food for them, and they have the “girl power” to go and get it. :blush:

As long as their is a nectar flow going on they don’t need to be fed. You will need to monitor their progress. As long as the bees are building comb and bringing in resources to rear more brood and storing nectar to get them through the winter this is the most important piece for the first year for the hive. If your area goes into a dearth during the summer you may need to feed again but like I have said before you will be able to see this through your normal inspections as well as monitoring if they are bringing pollen and nectar into the hive. You will know for sure if they don’t need the sugar water. When there is a flow on or one starts they will not use the feeder (at least mine don’t). I would think by this point in North Carolina things should be in bloom right now. Come September that might be a different story. Focus on getting what most of the beekeepers have for boxes on your hives to allow them to make it through the winter. If that’s two brood boxes then that needs to be your focus. If its one then that should be your goal.

Another thing to consider in the fall if you decide to feed again before winter is to give them enough time to process most of the water out of the syrup you feed before it gets cold. Moisture in the hive during the winter is a surefire way to lessen their chances of making it to the next spring.


Thatnks gor the great advice!! I do have 1 more question… I have tried to make sure there is shallow water for them to drink but it seems every time I go check on the there is at least 10 dead in the water bowl… I am guessing rain fills it up and a few end up drowning… would it hurt anything for me to fill the sugar water feeder with just plain water so they can get a drink without drowning?

Hi Joe, I know the question is not directed to me, however I’ve seen people put stones in shallow water for bees to walk up. I have Chinese water chestnuts growing during the summer. I notice the bees land on the reeds, then drink the water. Here’s our video of it.


Look at your frames: The top picture is well fed bees and the bottom picture is hungry bees: Notice the top picture has an arc of honey and pollen at the top of the brood patch and the bottom picture does not.



Interesting that your bees make an arch of pollen between their honey and brood. I have never seen mine do that. They usually just have honey arched around the brood and have seperate frames of almost 100% pollen.

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Some will some won’t or it’s not that noticeable.

If you have bees returning to the hive not loaded with pollen then those bees that aren’t carrying pollen are bringing in nectar and so there is no need to feed them sugar-water providing when you do your weekly hive inspection the stores are increasing.

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Put some sticks on the water for the bees to land on and get a drink, my watering point is about 60% sticks and it very seldom have a dead bee in it.

I had a rubber tub that I filled with stones from my big box store and added a solar fountain to keep the water moving so the mosquitoes don’t breed. This helps keep my bees watered and out of my neighbors swimming pools.

I also planted some wild flowers and sunflowers around, just waiting for them to grow.