A honey bee's diet consists of pollen, water and honey. If the bee's natural source of food runs low, the beekeeper will need to begin emergency feeding. Bee feeding is sometimes necessary in late winter and early spring. Sugar syrup is the food most often used for feeding bees when temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Things you need
- Glass jar with metal lid
- Feeder base
Choose a glass jar with a metal top such as a spaghetti sauce jar. Clean the jar and rinse it well to make sure there is no food or soap residue remaining.
Use a nail to make five or six small holes in the metal lid of the jar.
Purchase a bee feeder base that is sold commercially. If you have the tools and the skills you can make the base yourself. Base should be made from a rust resistant metal. It will need to be a square box with five sides. The open side should have a lip on it to allow bees to enter but not allow the liquid to drip out. Cut a hole in the top layer large enough to fit the rim of the jar in when inverted.
Attach the entrance of the feeder base to the bee hive.
Fill the jar with sugar syrup and put the lid back on. Invert the jar and attach it to the feeder base.
Tips and warnings
- You can make your own bee sugar syrup by mixing one part water with two parts sugar. Be sure to use only cane or beet sugar which will supply the necessary nutrients. You might need to heat the water to get the sugar to completely dissolve. Take care not to burn it because carmelization can be harmful to bees.
- If outside temperatures are lower than 40 degrees the sugar syrup might get too cold and the bees will not go to it until it warms up. In colder temperatures you might need to use a feeder that is housed between the bottom and top covers of the hive. This type of feeder will allow the bees to eat from the top of the hive where the temperatures are warmest.
- You should always feed the bees inside their hive. Feeding gets bees excited. If they are fed outside of the hive the excitement caused by feeding might encourage other bees in the apiary to rob the food from the colony you are feeding.