Proper feeding of bees in winter

Preserving the life and health of the honey family is the main task of the beekeeper during the inactive period. There are many ways and methods. One of them is feeding bees in winter.

The importance of winter feeding bees

The novice beekeeper needs to know how to control nutrition in cold weather. This knowledge cannot be neglected. Experienced apiary owners have already studied their “workers” well enough, the possible “surprises” of the weather, how much feed to prepare, depending on the size of the family and the type of honey, etc.


You need to know how to properly feed the bees in winter, so that they winter calmly, do not worry, do not start an early exit or brood, and remain able to work.

During the main bribe, a sufficient amount of honey is left by the caring owner to feed the workers, and not for sale. Only in a situation of poor harvesting due to bad weather conditions, lack of melliferous plants, top dressing is used. After all, the main food product of the bee is honey. This allows you to gather strength for a successful wintering, save families and an apiary from death.

When feeding is not needed

This is what a bee brood looks like.

The honeybee’s “winter” lifestyle has been verified by a thousand-year period of development and evolution. With the onset of frost, insects gather in the club. The time from November to February under favorable conditions can be called a “dead” period. Honey plants hardly move. The feed is consumed in small quantities. During this quiet time, bees do not need care.

The second period begins with the emergence of brood. Insects are activating. A lot of energy is spent on maintaining the desired temperature in the brood zone, on taking care of the offspring. The feed consumption increases.

Experienced beekeepers advise not to disturb the family until early March. There is no need to feed insects if quality food is left in sufficient quantity for the winter. If in doubt, you can check and estimate the reserves.

Premature feeding leads to unpleasant consequences:

  • premature excitement of the family;
  • increased worming of the uterus;
  • digestive upset insects.

Organization of feeding

The main problem at the stage of feeding families is the choice of the type of feed. Important points to consider:

  • time (wintering month);
  • condition of bees (weak – strong colony);
  • climatic region;
  • conditions (underground Omshanik, street);
  • what can bees eat in winter;
  • features of feeding on the street;
  • optimal consistency of top dressing, etc.

The mixture must have the correct consistency and composition. Liquid food begins to ferment quickly. Too hard to crystallize. The food product should be convenient to take, easy to digest, nutritious.

In some cases, it is necessary to insulate the feeders. This is done so that the prepared syrups do not quickly lose temperature, do not freeze. The feed rate is calculated in advance.

What is the best food

It is difficult to say unequivocally which type of cooked food is more suitable for the wintering period. The choice depends on the beekeeper and the goal he pursues.

  1. Top dressing as a result of a lack of quality stocks.
  2. Vitamin support for a weakened family.
  3. Prevention of certain diseases.
  4. Removal of queens.
  5. Prevention of early uterine worming.
  6. Family support before the first flight.
  7. Others.

With the help of kandy


The recipe for sugar and honey dough is simple. 1,9 kg of honey heated to a liquid state (no more than 500) add 8 kg of powdered sugar and 100 ml of water. Kandy is one of the most popular types of food. Its use is justified in several cases:

  • lack of winter supplies;
  • insect support is needed during the transition period (the “dough” does not accelerate the years of honey plants and does not cause concern);
  • prevention of various diseases (drugs are added during the kneading process).

Candy has a thick consistency, so it is convenient to place it on top of the frames. Pieces of “dough” are formed in the form of cakes. Each of them should weigh no more than one kilogram and be at least two centimeters in thickness. An ordinary polyethylene bag with slots will prevent drying out. The cakes can also be wrapped in cheesecloth.

Sugar syrup for wintering

By the end of wintering, the bee club sometimes turns out to be away from the reserves. There are times when honey crystallizes. The family begins to starve. In this situation, a good solution would be to use sugar syrup. It can cause diarrhea in insects, but will prevent them from starving to death.

Winter nectar is prepared from 1 liter of water for 1,5 kg of sugar. Feeding bees with sugar syrup in winter is carried out in several ways:

  1. Spare low-copper frames are heated in a warm room. One frame contains about two kilograms of syrup. His family will have enough for 3-4 weeks.
  2. Homemade “nectar” does not need to be placed in the center of the nest. It can be poured into side and top troughs. The syrup crystallizes rather quickly, so it is replaced with fresh one. The bees do not take the frozen syrup from the feeders.
  3. The finished feed can be placed in a jar. It is placed at the bottom of the nest and wrapped in a quilted jacket.


Experienced beekeepers advise against giving syrup at the end of winter. Homemade nectar is not suitable as feed before the cleaning flight. It is best to use solid species.

Sugar syrup dressing is ideal for August – September. At this time, the nests are collected for the winter. If the opportunity to provide high-quality summer harvest honey for wintering is limited, then this method allows you to replenish stocks.

In August, when there is no last bribe, liquid nectar is prepared in a 1: 1 ratio. They give it every day no more than 200 grams. It was at this time that the use of sugar feed was justified. There is brood in the hive and it is advisable that the old bees deal with the processing of the feed. They fill the combs, maintain the necessary moisture, and feed the brood.

Old insects have already worn out on flights and will survive only until the first cold weather. This will enable young insects to gain strength, to endure wintering well, and not to wear out on fattening.

Professionals advise using sugar syrup if:

  • the family did not collect supplies for the winter;
  • honey prepared for feed is of poor quality, crystallizes or contains honeydew;
  • there is a real threat of famine to the family;
  • for the prevention of clotting (in the solution, coniferous extract is perfectly diluted 2 g per 1 liter).


To avoid protein deficiency, high-quality honey is mixed into the syrup.

Method of preparation: The water is heated and sugar is added. After complete dissolution of the crystals, the mixture is cooled to 400… Honey is added.

Honey for feeding

The ideal winter food option is, of course, honey. It is a staple food for honey bees. It contains all the substances necessary for insects, vitamins and minerals. Stocks made from the first bribe are optimal food for the family. Good storage properties are possessed by such varieties of the product, which were collected on white acacia, sweet clover, meadow grasses. They do not crystallize and are suitable for long-term storage. Honey taken from plants such as:

  • mustard white;
  • rape;
  • rapeseed;
  • fruits, berries;
  • taken in dry hot weather.

The feed is taken at an average rate of 15 kg per family. The candied product is dissolved in a water bath before use.

Perga as top dressing

Honey and bee bread are best used at the end of winter. The ingredients are taken in equal amounts. The mixture is rolled out in the form of cakes. The advantages of this type of feeding:

  • prevention of protein starvation;
  • the composition is ideal for brood rearing;
  • contributes to the normal production of wax;
  • contains natural substances, vitamins, minerals.

Sugar candy

This type of feeding is used when there is a shortage of honey reserves. The cooking method is simple:

Water and sugar are boiled in an enamel bowl until thick. Products are taken in a ratio of 1 to 5. You can add a little citric acid and the resulting syrup will acquire additional viscosity. The frames are covered with paper. The ready-made sweet mass is laid out on them. After hardening, they are placed in the nests.


It must be remembered that with prolonged use of sugar candies, protein deficiency appears in bees. Sugar is not honey and does not contain the vitamins and minerals you need. Honey is added only to the cooled mass before pouring. When boiled, it loses its beneficial qualities.

Bee bread substitute

Until now, scientists have not been able to recreate any beekeeping product in laboratory conditions. All products have a unique and unique composition. Perga is no exception. However, beekeepers found a way out, invented and successfully apply their substitute. It contains components that are known, available and necessary for insects. It is called a mixture of Gaidak. The basis of the composition:

  • soy flour;
  • whole milk powder;
  • food yeast;
  • egg yolks;
  • casein.

Flour should be finely ground. It cannot be replaced with cereal. Cereals have a negative effect on the body of honey plants. Sometimes finely ground peas are used. Bees like it if a small part of bee bread is added to the mixture.

The need to feed the bee colony during wintering almost always arises. However, there are no clear rules and procedures for action. It all depends on the conditions, climate, species of honey plants, etc. Each owner chooses the best wintering option for himself and his farm.


The only recommendation in this case is preparation. Foods needed to maintain insects must be prepared in advance. And following the advice of experienced beekeepers will help keep the honey farm without losses before the onset of heat.

Feeding the bees in the street

The honey in the nest must be controlled throughout the season. A check for a sufficient amount of it is carried out already in January. With a low quality of honey, you can feed it already from November. If families spend the winter outdoors, then they should be brought into a room with a temperature of at least 0 for feeding.0… In the open air, insects are given food only during thaws at above-zero temperatures.

Useful Tips

Practice shows that winter feeding has a bad effect on bees. They become restless and active. However, in the event that supplies are not enough, this can save the family from death. Compliance with the recommendations of experienced beekeepers will help reduce the risk of losing a family and keep the swarm working.

  1. It is necessary to start preparing the bee farm for winter in August.
  2. The amount of honey stored depends on the size of the family.
  3. Winter feeding is carried out as needed. It is advisable to use honey.
  4. Sugar syrup is used as a top dressing in August to quickly fill empty frames.
  5. In the first month of autumn, all nests should be prepared for wintering.
  6. If the reserves are not sufficient, sugar syrup is prepared at a higher concentration. The purpose of the autumn feeding is to get food for the winter.
  7. Closer to the beginning of March, bees are fed with a mixture of bee bread and honey, cakes made of powdery honey dough. Half-empty frames are filled with sugar syrup and placed in the hive.

Try to disturb the nests as little as possible. The family’s condition can be determined by the noise. If the hum inside is even and calm, then everything is in order. There is no need to open the house in vain. When there are problems and insects are worried, the noise is intermittent. They feed the bees not in too cold weather. And those families that spend the winter in Omshanik can be fed as needed in any weather.


Proper feeding of bees in winter

Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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