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How fast should bees go through syrup?


So I put a quart baggie feeder on the package when I installed them Monday morning. When I inspected today (morning of the 4th day) it seems like it is mostly still all there. Given what I have read other places of bees going through a quart in 2 days this has me curious. Does this mean I have a decent enough flow going on right now that they are ignoring it? Are there other reasons they may not be taking it in very fast? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.


@adagna Is the weather warm, and are they bringing back loads of pollen? Are the frames full of nectar or capped honey?
If so the flow should be OK.
Here in the UK we have had dreadful weather again - surprise, surprise, today and yesterday were warm here and the bees are out and about, but we have had several weeks of crud weather and the bees have used up their stores - normally they would have been able to get out to forage and the flow should be on but the weather is preventing continuous forage and storage and what they have got was used in expanding the brood, nothing has been stored very long. My hive has doubled in the last month but they have gone through all their food


We are in the 90’s(32C) during the day, clear and sunny. They are drawing out comb right now but it is still mostly just foundation, but they are coming in heavily loaded down with pollen.


90’s(32C) during the day, clear and sunny - Perfect weather.

If they are drawing comb and bringing in pollen they are probably using the nectar they bring in to build with, any excess will be stored, evaporated and capped.

1 lb of Comb takes 6 - 8 lb of honey to build - If the Queen is laying then all is well


I just released her this morning from the cage. I’ll check them again in a couple of days to see if I am getting eggs


OK then they are fine just check in 3 days for signs of eggs, or in 5 days for larvae, 9 - 10 days for the first capped cells.

Become familiar with the Brood cycles of the Workers, Drones and Queens

1 day old egg = I
2 day old egg = / 45° angle
3 day old egg = __ Flat

Brood cycle in days:
Worker = 3 egg + 6 larvae + 12 days capped = 21 days
Drone = 3 egg + 7 larvae + 14 days capped = 24 days
Queen = 3 egg + 5 larvae + 8 days capped = 16 days


It may be the nectar flow - I think you have had quite a bit of rain from El Nino this year, and that makes a huge difference.

Other thoughts… Is your baggie on top of the inner cover? If so, I might try putting some lemongrass essential oil on one end of a Q-tip and rest the oil end of the Q-tip on the baggie. Sometimes they don’t investigate upwards that much, if they are happy with their current space. Sugar doesn’t smell of much, so the lemongrass oil gives them a bit more of a clue. The Q-tip keeps it contained, so that the wax and the whole hive doesn’t “stink” of it! :blush:


Remember that she can’t lay until the cells are deep enough, so don’t start worrying too soon. Most packages in the US come with a “laying queen” (means she has been tested in a hive after mating), did yours?


It is on top of the inner cover, there seem to be enough bees on it that they should have made all the others aware that it is there. There are usually a dozen or two bees on top of it when I have cracked the roof to check on them. But it is possible I suppose that most of them are not aware. I’ll try to grab some lemongrass oil to be on the safe side.

Truthfully I am not exactly sure, I believe they should be, I ordered them so long ago it’s all a blur now. Given that the seller lives here and in Missouri and brings his queens in from Missouri because of the Africanized bee issue my guess is that she was mated in Missouri.


Well, it sounds like either they have nowhere to put it (not enough comb yet), or there is enough nectar. I wouldn’t worry, just keep checking. When it gets hotter and drier, they may relish it if the nectar flow has dried up.

The reason for my question was that there is no point in you tearing your hive apart looking for eggs if you might have a recently mated or even virgin queen. Rusty Burlew has quite a nice article with some numbers here:

Just didn’t want you to order another queen, when all you needed to do was wait another week. :blush:


@adagna What dawn says here is very very important.
If you feed when they don’t need it they will store the syrup in the comb as it’s drawn, your queen will have no place to lay and they are set up for swarming. Nucs DO swarm and the main reason is overfeeding.


Does a weaker or stronger sugar mix encourage comb building?


No. :wink: A set of bees who want to build comb encourages comb building. I don’t mean to sound obscure, but you can’t control the urge to build comb by providing sugar if they already have enough.


Probably a good nectar flow right now. Sugar syrup to bees is like McDonalds is to us; you can live on it, but that’s about it. Natural forage is like a 5 star restaurant: Where would you rather eat? lol

If you think you want to entice them to take syrup, I add a cap-full of Honey B Healthy to a couple of gallons of syrup regardless of what the directions say.


A related question for you as a somewhat local & experienced beekeeper, RHC - I’m in Montgomery Co PA & have had my bees hived since 4/8. If you recall it was windy & cold, then snow on 4/9. Past two weeks have been gorgeous & sunny, & lots of trees in bloom. When I checked my hive 2 days ago to gently straighten comb that was beginning to cross, it appeared to be mostly if not all filled with nectar/syrup…I saw that while all but 2 frames had comb, even the largest section was barely touching the bottom & one side, so I did not lift any frames up - I carefully slid them apart to try to see evidence of brood. Didn’t see any, but not the best view.

My teacher’s adamant instructions are to feed “until both deeps are fully drawn out”. Given that the first & so far only deep had about 60-70% comb drawn, I imagine another good three weeks to a month of feeding would have to ensue before the second box gets drawn out. Seems that nectar flow is good right now in our general area…seeing pollen-laden foragers & all.

What’s your opinion of feeding this far into the season? Or is that always necessary with a new package?


The trouble with bees is they are hoarders…it works for us but not for the bees.
If you give them syrup they will store it if they can so what happens is that as soon as new comb is drawn they fill it with the syrup you are giving them. They need a big workforce to draw all the combs but they haven’t the means to make one because the queen’s laying space is full of syrup.
The way round that is to feed in dribs and drabs when there is no forage ( a litre or two, take a break for a few days then repeat) and to not feed when the bees can collect the nectar themselves. Leaving it up to them can make the hive grow slower than you might like but at least they will go at their own pace, grow to a decent healthy size to over winter and give you some honey next year.


Thanks Dee, I’d much rather leave things up to them & learn from them as I go.

Perhaps a break from syrup is in order…


When it is nice out, check for eggs/brood.

I just hived 4 small after swarms: Two of them are 10 days old now the other two I found today. I just checked them and they have plenty of new drawn comb, stored nectar and eggs. I didn’t feed them at all.
For those wondering, after swarms are swarms issued after the main, usually larger swarm has left the hive. These swarms usually contain a virgin queen.


As an update, my bees went through 2.5# of syrup(1 quart by volume) in 5 days(4/22-4/26). So my package took in about a 1-1.25 cups per day