Beekeeping in Vermont...


Feed Questions...

Peter Hadeka writes:

Today the temperature has my bees moving. I have two hives, one wooden and one Bee Max Styrofoam. The wooden hive has dozens of bees coming and going and flying in front of the hive. The Bee Max has bees also, but a much lesser quantity. I have two ideas as to why. One is that there are many more bees in the wooden hive and the second thought is that there is an internal temperature difference between the two hives which may cause one to be more active than the other. What do you think ? My other question concerns preparing sugar syrup. It is necessary to boil the syrup or just heat it until the sugar devolves? Another method I have read about is to boil the water and add sugar and remove from heat. What is your opinion as to preparation of 1 to 1 spring feeding syrup?

Thanks for your guidance, Peter.

Well, hard tellin' not knowin'. What kind of population is there in each colony? Is the stronger flier more populous? That would be one reason for more flight. Also, are you keeping your bees in a beer cooler? To me, that's what styrofoam bee hives are. Fancy beer coolers with frame rests. Remember, while the foam insulation may keep the colony warmer in the winter, it's going to keep it cooler when the spring temperatures rise. The old double walled, sawdust packed hives had the same issues that I assume are occurring in styrofoam hives...moisture and temperature. This is only a guess, as I use only wooden hives and have no experience with styrofoam.

No, you don't have to and shouldn't boil the syrup. Mixing with hot water is good enough. For spring feed, I don't use 1:1. Yes the literature says thin syrup should be fed to stimulate brood rearing. I think it's more important to get feed into the combs, and 1:1 is half water. Do your bees need carbohydrates or water?

Tip: To make 2:1 syrup without the hassle of weighing or measuring, try this.

In a 5 gallon bucket...or any container...make a mark on the inside of the bucket. Fill to line with granulated sugar. Add hot water until the level is even with the line. Stir with electric drill operated paint mixer until the sugar has dissolved. Top off with hot water to bring level back up to line. The result is 2:1...64-65% sugar.

Good luck,


- Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting. VBA Members: Ask Mike your question with this form. (Requires you to login to the site.) We'll post the best questions and answers here as regularly as possible. (Personal responses to questions will not be possible.)