It’s spring and many new beekeepers wonder when it is the right time to liquid feed. For an overwintered hive, it's necessary after a long winter to feed our bees because there are very limited natural sources of nectar and pollen in the early spring. In the spring we feed syrup 1:1 (Water: Sugar). The light syrup mixture mimics the nectar flow for the bees. Spring feeding plays an important role in bee colony development.
There are two types of feeding in the spring: liquid feeding and pollen patties.
In early spring (usually mid-March), you can begin feeding pollen patties to provide protein to your overwintered hive. Patties can be placed on your hive earlier than the liquid feed because cooler temperatures do not affect it. When placing a pollen patty it should be placed near the cluster, but not on top of the cluster.
Spring liquid feeding depends on when it’s warm enough in your area. Typically liquid feed requires temperatures of 10+ degrees outside. If the syrup is too cold, the bees will not take it. When there is plenty of sources of nectar and pollen, the bees will take little or no feed. This is okay and normal. Remember, if they need it, they will use it.
The short answer is a lot. Your colony can consume 1lb to 1.5lbs every few hours on some days. You need a lot of syrup for spring feeding.
We recommend feeding right up until the main flow, which is typically the longest day (approximately June 21). You will provide liquid feed from the time of the willows to dandelions.
The weather can fluctuate a lot in the spring, and the nectar and pollen sources will come and go too. Rain in June can cause just as many problems as dearth. Periods of prolonged rain or cool temperatures can keep your bees in the hive and unable to access natural nectar sources. If there are no good flying days, bees are unable to access natural sources of nectar and pollen.
Pick up regular granulated sugar from stores that carry it in bulk. Plain sugar is better for bees. You want to make sure you dissolve sugar into water and boil at least one minute to breakdown three molecules in the sugar to create the syrup. Breaking down these molecules, makes it easier for the bees to digest the syrup. Some studies have shown that doing this can reduce the aging of bees by 75%. We don’t want our bees to age too fast during early spring. We need them to rear brood and create the new spring colony. If you live in the Edmonton area, we have prepared syrup you can pick up at our store!
It’s also a good idea to add Honey B Healthy to your syrup or Bianchi powder to your hive. Both of these add extra nutrients to your bees' diet.
In the spring you can use the small pail feeder or a frame feeder. Either option is fine, and it's usually each beekeeper's preference which one works best for them.
If you have any questions, please contact us!
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