It is important to help your bees in the spring. Feeding bees is what they need to get them through until the dandelions and Red Maples bloom. No matter how heavy your hive is, they may be lacking something or they may just need a little help to sustain them until spring has sprung.
What Do Bees Need?
Bees get their nutrients from many places, but what they need is fresh nectar and pollen. Fresh nectar is the food that they prefer, but sugar water will work if there isn’t any nectar to get. If there is fresh nectar for them to gather, you can put all the sugar water you want out and they will ignore it. Nectar gives them the carbohydrates that they need. However, they also need pollen. Pollen is what they use for protein and they need that as well, so don’t forget to put that out in the spring as well. Fresh pollen coming in is also what they prefer. If you put out pollen substitute when there is fresh pollen to collect, they will ignore your pollen substitute.
Last spring I fed them and learned something interesting. I always knew that they would be at my feeders, but this year I filmed them at the feeders and realized that they need the pollen much more than the sugar water. It was as if it was an urgency for them to collect it. Below is the video I made of my Spring feeding.
If you would rather watch it on YouTube, just follow this link: Spring Feeding Honey Bees.
As you can see, there arm many times more bees clamoring to get into the pollen feeder than there was at the sugar water feeder, and this was early enough that there were no flowers or trees blooming where they might get nectar from another source.
When And How To Feed
I do want to add some information. You do not want to feed your bees incorrectly too early. You want to feed a heavy syrup; at least 1.5:1 to keep down the amount of moisture in the hive. As close to 2:1 as you can get might be better. Once the nights stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the most part you can start bringing the mixture closer to 1:1 which will trigger them to start making brood as long as they have enough pollen to feed them. That is why you want it to be warmer so that they do not get a super cold night and not be able to keep it warm enough to keep the brood alive.
If you are feeding bees heavy syrup, it won’t trigger their desire to raise brood like the 1:1 sugar water will, so you can feed them that and not run into any issues. And always feed them pollen substitute. Have you ever heard of a person who lost his colony over the Winter and they would say, “But I had plenty of honey in the box for them and still they died out.” It just may have been that they needed protein and didn’t have any. Your bees need protein as well as carbohydrates to survive. Most bee keepers put so much emphasis on how heavy the hive is for Winter that they neglect the fact that they need pollen as well. Don’t let that person be you…
I hope you found this informative and useful. Take Care…