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Sugar Solutions for Feeding Bees

Sugar Solutions for Feeding Bees





Spring feeding: 1 part sugar to 1 part water = promotes wax and brood production

Early Fall feeding: 2 parts sugar to 1 part water
Late Fall - Winter: 3 Parts sugar to 1 part water (Tea Tree oil)


Essential oils can be used in different ratios and combinations


1:1 Syrup

1:1, or One-to-One syrup can be used for supplemental spring feeding and encourage the drawing of comb.

  • 1 part (by weight) sugar
  • 1 part (by weight) water

1:1 syrup can be made by dissolving one pound of sugar into one pint of water. Simply stir sugar into room temperature water until all the sugar has dissolved to produce the desired quantity. The dissolving process will be sped up with hotter water, just be sure not to boil the sugar solution.


Some beekeepers suggest that you bring the water to a rolling boil in a covered pot to kill fungus and bacteria then remove from heat and stir in the raw sugar using a spoon that has also been sterilized in boiling water. Put the cover back on the pot and let cool to room temperature before feeding to the bees. The sterile sugar solution will stay clean and clear for up to two weeks using this method.


One volume of water plus one volume of sugar when prepared equals roughly 1.5 volumes of syrup. Weight of water = 8.34 lbs(#) per gallon 1/2 gal = 4.14# 1qt = 2.09# 1pt = 1.04# & 1 cup = .52# of water.


One 2-liter bottle of water plus one cup of water plus 5 pounds of sugar yields just under two 2-liter bottles of "close enough" 1:1 Syrup


2:1 Syrup


2:1, or Two-to-One syrup can be used for fall feeding after the last honey harvest, or if the bees do not have a sufficiently large store of honey.


  • 2 parts (by weight) sugar
  • 1 part (by weight) water


The two parts sugar will not dissolve in room temperature water. Because of this mixing difficulty it is advisable to mix the sugar into near-boiling water. The best way to do this is to bring the water to a rolling boil in a covered pot and then remove from heat and stir in the raw sugar using a spoon that has also been sterilized in the boiling water. Do not return the pot to heat and allow the sugar mixture to boil, as this will give the chance for some of the sugars to caramelize, creating a partially indigestible and possibly even toxic solution as far as the bees are concerned. Be sure to let the solution thoroughly cool before feeding it to the bees. It was once common practice to add cream of tartar (tartaric acid) to 2:1 syrup to prevent re-crystallization of the sugars, however this is not recommended, as it is believed to shorten the life spans of the bees that consume it. Alternatively, one could add a very small amount of vitamin C as the acid (ascorbic acid) to adjust pH to 4.5 to impede crystallisation, as an antioxidant and general tonic.


For those without a scale, an easy recipe is 5 parts granulated sugar and 2 parts water by VOLUME. Sugar is somewhere between 170 and 200 grams/cup (depends on the reference)[1], [2], [3] and water is 240 grams/cup[4], [5]. So, for example, 5 cups of granulated sugar is 850-1000 grams, and 2 cups of water is 480 grams , which is close to 2:1. Picking 2:1 is a totally arbitrary ratio and is only a convenient, simple ratio for the bee keeper to think about for feeding bees late in the season.


2:1 syrup results in a final volume of syrup approximately double that of the liquid - e.g. 2kg of sugar in 1 litre of water will create 2 litres of syrup. This is due to the dissolved volume of sugar being less than in its crystalline form.


1:2 Syrup


1:2, or One-to-Two syrup can be used to stimulate brood rearing by simulating a nectar flow.


  • 1 part (by weight) sugar
  • 2 parts (by weight) water


Simply mix the sugar with room temperature water and feed the bees.


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