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Not finding the definite answer in forums concerning sugar water


I would like to know a good recipe for spring feeding with sugar water, I find several different recipes not knowing which to use and whether regular granulated sugar is the best or not. Newbie here, so any answers would be appreciated. Thanks!


Regular granulated sugar is fine - it is made of sucrose, which is the major type of sugar in nectar. Don’t use powdered or brown sugar. As far as the recipe is concerned, the bees really don’t care that much. Traditionally most people use 1:1 sugar to water for Spring and 2:1 for Fall feeding, but it really isn’t critical.


there is some debate on it but it is recommended to use cane sugar instead of beet sugar for your syrup. Something to do with digestibility. For spring 1:1 syrup is better it is less likely to be stored then 2:1 syrup, and generally promotes wax building and brood laying.

Actual ratios are not super critical to the bees. They will take a wide variety of recipes. But I would stick with either 1:1 by volume or weight.


Could you define 1:1 and 2:1 as to the actual amount in the mixtures a little better? I would think 1:1 means one quart of water to one quart of sugar, an 2:1 means 2 quarts of sugar to one quart of water, is that correct?


That is correct, it refers to a ratio. So in this case it could be 1cup:1cup, or 2 cups sugar:1 cup water. But you can also go by weight which is more accurate so 1# sugar:1# water. Using the ratio by volume will give you close enough results if you don’t have a scale though.


You could also make candy board. A lot less messy and easy to place. Bees will eat as much as they do liquid syrup.


1 lire of water to 1kg sugar
I imperial pint (20fluid ounces) to 1lb sugar
The second is just slightly weaker. I mention it only because if you are using metric it is very difficult to dissolve 2kg of water in one litre when you are making up 2:1 so most people use Imperial.
The simplest way to make strong syrup involves no weighing or much measuring.
You need a robust water jerry can. Half fill with granulated white sugar (beet or cane) and mark the level. Add water just off the boil to the mark. Shake.
I have used that for everything for years. If you feel the bees cannot dilute the strong syrup for their needs then slosh in a little extra water. Sugar strengths are not set in stone so no stress. :slight_smile:


I bet you are an engineer! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

You know, people stress about this, but it really doesn’t matter that much, honestly! :smile:

Think about it. Bees collect nectar as their major food source, and pollen for protein. Nectar is anywhere from 20% to 60% sucrose, and they deal with that wide range just fine. Your 1:1 syrup is around 50% (very approximate). It is within the range that bees normally deal with. It just isn’t worth being too exact about it.

Just so that you know it isn’t just my opinion, here is a respected beekeeper’s post about it on her blog:

Please relax, this is meant to be fun (unless you are commercial) and the bees do very well despite our interventions! :wink:


I find it interesting that there is so much talk about this. When feeding sugar I’ve personally always used a saturated solution (ie. solution won’t take any more sugar) purely for convenience… The more sugar I get in the mixture, the less frequently I need to top it up!



I never feed them in the spring unless it’s a swarm or a package and then I would feed judiciously. As far as what kind of sugar, my issue with anything other than white sugar is that molasses is poisonous to bees and any solids are hard on them. As far as cane or beet. I used beet all the time up until they started treating the seeds with neonics and they genetically engineered the beets… so now I’m buying cane sugar… I don’t know if it’s any better for them or not, but I won’t support an industry that is poisoning my food.