Bjorn Apiaries

Feeding Options, the Reasoning,

and Benefits of Each

Suggested Reading on Feeding and Nutrition:


Nutritional Requirements of Honey Bees - Click here

Platform Feeding Away From The Hive

Controlled Feeding Of Nucs

Fondant Feeding Above The Inner Cover

Dry Feeding Of Pollen Supplement

Platform feeding away from the hive


Using boardman style feeders, or simply placing jars on top of two thin wood strips, we place the feeders away from the hive on a platform or picnic table. We normally use this type of feeding starting in August in preparation of the fall flow.  


The benefits include:


* Simulates a flow. Anytime honeybees have to leave the hive to collect feed, it simulates a flow.


* Stimulates the queen to start laying. In the north, we need about 60 days of fall brood production for adequate clustering numbers throughout winter. If you wait until the fall flow to start, many times in the beginning of September, you run the risk of a short fall brood cycle as it turns cold in October. The bees raised in the fall brood cycle are the bees that will carry the hive through till spring.


* Feeders can be filled in the early morning without disturbing the hive. 


*Maximizes the ability of each hive to collect what they can process. This allows each hive to be productive, and then allows the beekeeper to manipulate frames as needed.


* No robbing of individual hives if only feeding individual hives.

Fondant Feeding Above the Inner Cover


The picture shown at the top of this page, shows a 25 pound block of fondant on top of full size hive. For healthy hives that are light at the end of the fall flow, this is a viable option that is very effective. The fondant block is placed directly on the inner cover hole.

Benefits include:

* The 25 pound block will feed a colony for more than three months. Many times, colonies will not eat all of the fondant by spring, even with no honey reserves.

* Allows a one-time feed situation that does not constantly disturb the bees like other feed options.

* Allows the inner cover to remain sealed, allowing heat to be retained.

* Unlike syrup feeding, no excess moisture with fondant is placed into the hive creating detrimental conditions.

Controlled Feeding Of Nucs

There are times of the year in our operation where we want to guard against starvation or situations where we want maximum brood production without frames full of honey. This is especially true in our nuc building operation. The placing of fondant on paper plates or paper towels allows bees to feed at a much slower rate than feeding syrup. The paper plates or paper towels keeps the fondant from dripping down if high moisture from spring rains becomes an issue.


Benefits include:


* We experience almost no robbing with fondant when feeding very weak colonies or mating nucs. Unlike syrup feeding where robber bees can smell the syrup, fondant does not signal robber bees to the hives being fed.


* A 1-2 pound fondant block will ensure no starvation in spring or prolonged periods of inclement weather. This is good insurance with mating nucs and swarms.


* If using paper towels, the bees will let you know when they have the fondant all eaten. They will shred the paper towel and discard the fine fibers outside the entrance.

Dry Feeding of Pollen Supplement


Many times, we have an early frost that kills off the last of the fall flowers, while bees are still brooding. After that first hard frost, there may be several weeks of nice weather that permits the bees to fly. And with no natural pollen to collect from flowers, they will use any remaining pollen or bee bread stores in the hive to finish their fall brood cycle. Having a hive in late winter or early spring not be able to raise brood due to a lack of pollen stores can be a major problem. This type feeding guards against this situation.


Benefits include:


* Allows late season increase of pollen stores.


* Maximizes hive production effected by unusual weather.


* Give late season bees something to do instead of robbing.


* Better than pollen patties in areas with small hive beetle.


*** This type feeding is only useful for a period in early spring or late fall. If any other natural pollen is available, the bees will ignore your supplement. We mainly use this type feeding in the fall.

Feeding Dry Sugar


Feeding dry sugar gives the same benefits that fondant feeding provides. We like to place a paper towel directly on the frames below the inner cover hole. After placing the inner cover back on, pour the sugar very slowly filling the inner cover hole and then add whatever amounts you decide best. Placing an empty box on top of the inner cover, allows you to put as much as 25 pounds or more in a mound. Sugar feeding should be considered instead of sugar syrup which adds huge amounts of detrimental moisture to the hive.


Feeding dry sugar is considered "emergency feed". The placement over the inner cover is ideal in location since bees many times will locate themselves to under the inner cover where they can conserve energy and resources by utilizing trapped heat. You should wait to place dry sugar until cold weather sets in and bees are in cluster. This will discourage bees from dumping the sugar outside the hives which happens occasionally, especially if the bees are still active within the hive.   


Benefits include:


* Readily available.


* Easy to use.


* Added moisture absorption and control. Dry sugar soaks up excess moisture and may lower

  internal moisture levels inside the hive.

Things We Do Not Do.....


* We do not feed selected light hives with entrance feeders. This fosters robbing and constant monitoring.


* We do not add "Honey-B-Robber" additives to any syrup we may feed. Adding scents to syrup is like ringing the dinner bell for other hives to "come and get it!"