Beekeeping is a learn-as-you-go experience. Some do a lot of reading and research up front and do a little better than others who jump right in (that’s me by the way.) Either way, you don’t know what you are doing until you do it, month by month and year by year. I think you have to go through a few seasons to really get an idea of what bees need. You need to experience failures and figure out why they happened… and I dare say, share that with your fellow beekeepers so they can learn along with you and not feel shame when they make mistakes.
With all of that said, the “learning experience” I am going to help you avoid is allowing your bees to die from lack of food or water when the summer temps are well over 100 degrees and nectar sources are scarce. I’m talking about a typical Arizona summer here.
With all of that said, the “learning experience” I am going to help you avoid is allowing your bees to die from lack of food or water
For some reason, when I started beekeeping, I didn’t want to feed my bees white, processed sugar. I thought that they should be able to just get their food from nature and white sugar is one of those taboos in a healthy HUMAN diet. I didn’t realize that most of nectar is made up of sucrose, which is basically white sugar.
I also didn’t realize that bees can’t keep making new comb without that particular food source. And that means they also can’t store food or lay eggs to increase their numbers, which is essential in bringing in more food. Kind of a spiral effect. I thought that the package bees and swarms I got were simply lazy workers because they weren’t building comb. In reality they didn’t have the food abundance necessary to do that. So my bees didn’t thrive and they succumbed to varroa and wax moths and ants. I learned that since we are putting our bees in an environment that is not their natural home, we need to also provide them with things to compensate for that, and that means sugar syrup sometimes.
I’ve tried a few different ways of feeding and most of them are a lot of trouble. When I found this way of using a division board or frame feeder on YouTube, I was sold. These feeders are cheap and I feel really good about being able to provide food and water to my bees right inside their home. The summers here in Phoenix are brutal and the bees spend much of their time going back and forth to carry water. I think these will allow them to spend their time building their colony rather than taking long flights in 100 plus heat just for water. The feeder can be used for sugar syrup or just water. Either way, water is accessible right there.
The Division Board or Frame Feeder I’m using is the typical one gallon plastic model that most beekeeping suppliers offer for under $8. Here in Phoenix, Crockett Honey offers them for under $4. You won’t need to buy the plastic ladders that accompany them.
Instructions FINALLY! (I know, I talk a lot)
- Plastic Frame Feeder
- Lattice wood strips cut to fit the bottom of the feeder
- Small block of wood the width of the feeder
- 2 Screws per feeder
- Drill with Phillips head, 1/2 inch drill bit and 1/8 inch drill bit
Make sure that the lattice wood is cut to the size of the bottom of the feeder because the feeder tapers and you want the wood to go all the way to the bottom.
Attaching the wood block at the top keeps the feeder from expanding when full, and it makes a pretty good handle as well.
Thats all there is to it. Now make your syrup and feed your bees!
Sugar Syrup Recipes to use
Use 1:1 ratio of sugar to water for comb building.
One pound of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of water.
Use 2:1 ratio of sugar to water for fall feeding or if bees don’t have enough honey stores.
Two pounds of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of near boiling water.
Thanks to Jason Chrisman for this awesome idea. His channel on YouTube is HERE.