The Beekeeper has a responsibility to ensure their bees have sufficient stores available to survive difficult times.
Yes, our bees can starve to death if we ignore them. At different times of the year our bees may need a feed to supplement their stores. This may be because of a prolonged adverse weather condition or a general shortage of available forage.
This section provides information on the types of feeding we can give to them.
During the spring build up and to stimulate the queen into laying, a light syrup can be fed to the bees.
This type of feed can also be given to stimulate the bees into drawing comb following on after performing a "shook swarm" foundation change.
The ratio for mixing a light syrup is 2 litres of water to 1 kilo of sugar. This can be fed to the bees through a Contact or Rapid feeder over the crown board.
When administering any liquid feed, care should be taken to avoid spillage in order to minimise the risk of robbing by other colonies.
After the removal and extraction of honey from supers during August, there may be a shortfall of stores the bees require to survive the long winter months. During late August and September, bees can be fed a heavy syrup that they will convert into stores for winter survival. This should be done after any treatment for varroa has been completed and before the temperature is too low for the bees to metabolise the syrup. Sufficient liquid feed should be given to make up any shortfall.
The ratio for mixing a heavy syrup is 1 litre of water to 1 kilo of sugar. This can be fed to the bees through a Contact or Rapid feeder over the crown board.
Solid Winter Supplement
During the winter months, if it is suspected a colony has insufficient stores to survive through until spring, then fondant can be fed to them.
Fondant is available in 1 kilo packs and can be placed directly on the frames over the cluster after cutting away a small section of the pack to reveal the fondant. Alternately, the fondant can be cut into sections and placed into plastic "take away" trays before placing on the frames.
As an emergency, a bag of sugar can be soaked in water and then placed directly on the frames over the bee cluster.
Protein is essential in the development of brood and the bees obtain this from the pollen they collect whilst foraging. During early spring, pollen may be scarce for any foraging bees and this can effect the colony build up. To help the bees through this difficult period, a pollen substitute can be given. This is usually in the form of a "pattie" and is placed directly on the frames over the bee cluster.