Feeding New Packages/Nucs

I decided that because most people are receiving their packages lately, and nucs will be coming shortly that I should write about feeding. I’ve heard/read some misconceptions lately (at least in my opinion) that you don’t have to feed new colonies during a nectar flow. This is false, a new colony does not have a large enough foraging force to bring enough nectar and pollen into the hive to properly stimulate the queen. This is even more true if the colony is in a new hive with no drawn comb. The three rules of a first year beekeeper are, feed,feed,and feed. Also along with 1:1 sugar water comes feeding pollen supplement. I prefer pollen patties place directly on top of the brood frames. You may want to cut them down so that they don’t attract pests. maybe a 2″ strip until your colony can use the whole thing between inspections.

Why 1:1 sugar syrup? 1:1 syrup is said to be the closest mix that we can provide to nectar. This will stimulate wax production reduce the need of a large foraging force since there isn’t one.

Here is my recipe for 1:1 syrup.

Go buy an 8lb bag of sugar them warm 1 gallon of water. Dump the sugar slowly into the water while stirring. You will need to stir for quite a while.  When your mixture looks like the picture below it’s time to play the waiting game. Take it off of the heat source and just back away from the kettle.

Photo Mar 10, 6 45 09 PM

After you let your syrup sit for awhile it will look like the photo below. Your done! Just let it cool to room temperature, then serve. If it doesn’t look like the photo then stir some more.

Photo Mar 10, 6 58 27 PM

It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Also, no, you are not going to kill your bees if the mixture isn’t just perfect. If there is a little to much sugar or a little to much water they are going to be fine. If you want to buy your sugar in bigger bags then just weigh out what you want to use and mix it together. Just remember to be close to 1:1 by weight. Thankfully water and sugar are very similar by volume and by weight so if all you can do is measure by volume that really should be just fine. You might be a bit off but not enough to worry anyone.

I have also read a few people not wanting to make very much feed at a time. While I can understand that there may be reasons to not need much, When you have a new colony they are going to eat you out of house and home. 8 pounds of sugar, and 8 pounds of water should yield about a gallon and a half of syrup. Buy a cheap container to keep the excess in so you won’t have to mix feed on a daily basis. Besides, if you have a little left over get some fresh mint,some rum and use the leftovers for mojito’s.

We also should remember that this is for new colonies. I will feed a full strength colony if absolutely necessary if I feel they will starve without feeding. Early this spring you may recall that I fed two of my colonies that were extremely light coming out of winter. Otherwise, I try to let the bees be bees.

Hopefully this helps simplify what a new colony needs. You don’t have to be a chemist to feed your bees. Just get it close and call it good.

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Posted in beekeeping, beekeeping 101

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