We keep bees (but we wish they'd keep themselves). In drought (or non-stop rain), beekeepers need to feed.
The dark brown comb in a hive is called "brood" (bee babies). With the sun behind you, hold a frame & look to see if yours are bathed in jelly. If cells aren’t all the way full - it's time to feed. “Dry brood” (or very little brood) is a sign of starving bees.
Fail to feed in time & the bees will cannibalize every egg the queen lays every 1/2 second & your hive will decline rapidly. No eggs, no babies... & in a few weeks you’ll have no hive.
Feed only sugar water & you’ll still have no babies. When not enough is flowering, nectar & pollen are both scarce & must be fed if you don’t see pollen stored in your frames in abundance.
Sugar water is definitely not a nutritional equal to nectar, but unlike wild animals (bears, squirrels, birds..), bees won’t consume any substitutes if nature has enough available.
Feeding is something I didn’t used to do & debated hard, but despite my true hippie ways, I feed (just like I’ll treat mites with organic substances) - if it means the hive will die otherwise. I’ve decided that increasing the populations of any & all bee species is my goal.
For many beeks (& especially in drought states) feeding (like treating for mites), is life or death. Many hives collapse in Fall & beeks will cluelessly say (as I did), “my hive just died.” #LearnToReadTheCombs
I feed a 50% sugar-to-water mix by weight on a kitchen scale. Boil the water add the sugar. I also feed (ONLY) UltraBee almond pollen (tastes like marzipan! *see ScientificBeekeeping.com’s data comparison of all pollen patties). Feeding sugar water is expensive - hives can go thru up to a gallon a day.
*Do NOT* feed stevia /organic /brown sugar - it’s too complex for bees to digest.
My favorite feeders (because they don’t attract robbing & bees can’t drown!):
Blythewood Bee Company’s “Ceracell” & for 8-frame hives, BeeWorks.com “Rapid Feeder.”
🐝🐝🐝🌻Please follow @s_p_honey - my talented gardener, pie-making, beekeeping friend who took this great pic & SO many more.