How To Feed Your Bees

Feeding Your Bees: A Keeper's Guide

Feeding your beloved bees is a vital aspect of beekeeping, and The Keeper's Hive makes it wonderfully convenient. With a simple flip of the roof and removal of the observation window, you have easy access to the brood chamber. Bees rely on food to raise their young, produce energy, and perform hive functions. Their diet comprises both macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Let's start with a quick recap: Bees primarily gather their food from flowers, obtaining carbohydrates from nectar and protein and fat from pollen. Water and minerals are also essential components of their diet, which they often source from creek beds.

Bees store their food along the edges and above their brood nest. So, frames #1 and 2 in the brood chamber offer a good overview of their food stores. Another area to assess food stores is the 5 frames in the medium spacer box directly above the queen excluder, which we'll discuss in more detail in future content.

Now, the critical question: Do bees rely solely on the environment within a 1-mile radius of their hive, or do they need the beekeeper to provide sustenance?

Here's where beekeepers come into play, making decisions based on various factors. Do you harvest honey? Is your area lacking in flowers or experiencing a summer drought? Are you trying to stimulate brood production or encourage comb drawing on new frames? These are all valid reasons to consider feeding your bees.

Types of Feed:

  1. 1:1 Syrup in a Frame Feeder:

    • Mix 1 gallon of water with 8 pounds of sugar until fully dissolved.
    • Consider adding a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the syrup to prevent mold growth and slightly acidify the solution.
    • Place the syrup in a frame feeder positioned at #1 in The Keeper's Hive brood chamber.
    • Alternatively, you can use mason jars filled with 1:1 syrup and place them above the queen excluder when introducing a package or small nuc to The Keeper's Hive.
  2. 1:1 Syrup with Added Pollen Substitute:

    • Combine 2 cups of 1:1 syrup with pollen substitute to achieve a pancake batter-like consistency.
    • Apply this mix to the top bars of frames #1-4.
    • A caulk gun or empty plastic tubes filled with the mix can be used for easy application.
    • Monitor consumption through the observation window to gauge their needs.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals:

    • While not commonly added to 1:1 syrup, you can consider crushing a vitamin C tablet or a B vitamin complex and adding it to your syrup. However, be sure to research the appropriate doses.
  4. Phytonutrients, Probiotics, etc:

    • This area is less explored, but you can introduce various supplements to frames #1-4 in a manner similar to applying the pancake mix.
    • Observe the bees through the observation window to see if they are consuming these supplements.

As a beekeeper, it's essential to keep a close watch on the nutritional status of your hive and make informed decisions about when to supplement their diet. The Keeper's Hive design makes this process straightforward and accessible.

Remember, a well-fed colony is a healthy and thriving one, and your Keeper's Hive empowers you to ensure your bees have the sustenance they need to flourish.

Happy beekeeping! 🐝🏡🍯