Honey vs. sugarwater

Feeding bees is a complex issue. For the new beekeeper especially, it’s a dizzying array of options and decisions.

So, let’s start with a simple principle: The less you feed your bees artificial food (sugarwater), the better off your bees are.

Feeding less, of course, means leaving more honey on the hive. That’s hard to do. Honey is the big payoff for our investment and work. Leaving honey on the hive takes a lot of discipline.

But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that, for the bees, sugarwater is the equivalent of honey. It isn’t. Bees make honey specifically to take care of their nutritional needs. Sugarwater is not an adequate substitute.

Yes, bees can live off of sugar-water. But if we make them do that, is it any wonder that our hives are not as healthy and can’t resist pests and diseases?

Besides, when you think about it, feeding bees is a lot more trouble than just leaving the honey on the hive.

So, for their long-term health, leave as much honey as possible on your hives. The payoff will be more bees, healthier hives and more honey later down the road.

Jim Stovall

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