As springtime approaches and the vegetation begins to bud, it is time to start building up the colony for the nectar flow that will be coming. The hive has survived the long winter and may be short on food stores, and the winter bees are coming to the end of their journey. It’s time to stimulate the queen and the rest of the colony to produce and care for the next generation.
Springtime feeding differs from the fall where the goal is to help build up the colony reserves for the coming winter.
For new colonies with no drawn comb and a package of bees, feeding is even more important. The package of bees has no stores to draw on in order to survive and thrive so the beekeeper must provide this food to the colony in the form of sugar syrup and pollen patties. Feeding also starts wax production in the worker bees from the package, that causes them to build the honey comb necessary for the queen to lay eggs and propagate the hive.
The goal of springtime feeding is to simulate a nectar flow. This is accomplished by using a “lighter” sugar syrup than the fall version. A 1:1 ratio of sugar to water meets this purpose.
The sugar should be dissolved in hot water (not boiling, just hot) to prevent the syrup from caramelizing or burning that could affect the bees.
According to “The Beekeeper’s Handbook” (available at our bookstore), it is important to use granulated cane or beet sugars only. Brown or raw sugar or other sugar like products (molasses, sorghum etc.) can cause dysentery in the bees and should be avoided. They also mention that adding a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to a gallon of syrup may retard molding.