As Fall approaches feeding of the bees may be necessary for several reasons:
- The beekeeper harvested too much honey
- Weak nectar flows or bad weather prevented the bees from collecting enough stores
- A colony—such as a newly installed swarm—got a late start and didn’t have enough time to collect enough stores
- The beekeeper wants to treat for Nosema and needs syrup as a carrier for the antimicrobial product
If one or more of these conditions exist and you decide to feed syrup, you need to do it before the average daily temperature drops too low. Once the temperatures are too low, the bees are unable to dehydrate the syrup to a moisture level that is suitable for capping. Syrup or nectar that is uncapped may ferment in the cell, and fermented substances are not good for bees.
Also, syrup that remains in the feeder will eventually mold, and it will cause excessive moisture to accumulate inside the hive. Once bees stop taking the syrup in the fall, any remainder should be promptly removed.
While spring syrup is made in the ratio of one part sugar to one part water, fall syrup is made of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water (weight or volume, it doesn’t matter). In case you forget which is which, just remember that spring syrup resembles nectar, which is thin and lightly sweet. Fall syrup resembles honey, which is thick and very sweet.