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Tip of the Month


Types of feed.jpeg

Unlike other insects such as wasps or hornets, honey bees do not hibernate but simply slow down their metabolism. They therefore require food in order to survive and to provide the energy needed to regulate the temperature and air-flow within and around the winter cluster. Monitoring stores including hefting is particularly important during the winter.

As a rule of thumb think about feeding as follows:

•   Early spring – if still food stores low and cold feed ideally inverted sugar syrup such as Ambrosia or if you’ve run out sugar:water solution 1:1 (1kg sugar:1litre water)

•   Early summer – check stores and if short (due to June gap) feed inverted sugar syrup or if you’ve run out sugar:water solution 1:1

•   Early autumn – ideally feed inverted sugar syrup such as Ambrosia or if you’ve run out sugar:water solution 2:1

•   Late autumn/winter (when ivy stopped flowering) – move to fondant and monitor and top up throughout winter. Avoid using any type of liquid feed.

Most types of feeders and fondant are placed over the gaps in the crown board or alternatively using an eke resting on a queen excluder directly above where the brood is situated – which could be in the brood box or even in the super stores you left over winter. The key is to make it easy for the colony to find the food.


Simple trick for feeding boards: when feeding bees from above the crown board (which has two oblong holes in – for use with Porter bee escapes) it can be challenging to ensure whether the food, be it fondant or liquid feed is in the right place and centred over those holes.


To give yourself assurance draw some “templates” on the crown board so you can always position the feed correctly. Use the fondant bag, feeder and take-away container over the holes to mark the crown board.


The photographs are self-evident when you see what goes in place.

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feeding template.jpg

You can mark and cut holes in the bag of fondant to match the two oblong holes so that the fondant does not spread itself all over the crown board. If using an eke, please make sure the eke can fit on the crown board with the fondant block in place.


Push something like a pencil from below to the top of the fondant bag to make a hole all the way through. That way you can see that the bees are taking the fondant. Otherwise, you can only lift up the bag and peek underneath, and risk getting a face full of bees, or wait until they had eaten their way through half the bag, buy which time it might be too late.


Once you’ve completed this your crown board template should look like this.

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