In my last post I talked about feeding stations for my bees. Instead of disturbing the bees and to save time I decided to set up feeding stations made from food grade buckets filled with sugar water. I did not want to assume just because they were bringing in pollen they would have food stores too.
I put two stations up and only refilled one bucket one time in two weeks. They did not attract the bee traffic I expected. I speculated as to why and anxiously waited for the chance to get in to the hives to see what was happening. My thoughts were “It may have been too early in the season or they still had food stores or I just didn’t have the amount of bees I thought I had.”
The weather finally leveled out. Spring showed up over night and I was able to inspect the hives. The reason they weren’t too active at the feeding stations was they did not need the sugar water! I did lose a few hives over the winter but the ones that made it were rocking. They still had honey stores in the supers. They were full of brood and bringing in pollen and starting to make honey.
I did not realize how much of a nectar flow was going on. (At the time there were only dandelions, daffodils and henbit blooming.) I was amazed by what my hives looked like.
I took the feeding stations down after the inspections.
Although I learned about feeding stations during my beekeeping classes with The Fat Bee Man, my first experience with a “station” in my own bee yard was accidental. I had been feeding the bees (in hive top feeders) and had a quart jar of sugar water left. I set the jar down on an empty bird bath and a cat ended up knocking it over and it broke. When I discovered it the bees were ALL OVER the bird bath! They sopped up the sugar water. A month or so later I deliberately put sugar water in the same bird bath and it sat there for two weeks with only the occasional red wasp visiting. It was wasted.
I have also put sugar water in a chicken waterer. I do not recommend using one unless you can put some sort of screen in the opening. The bees will get in there and not be able to get out and die. The same thing happened with the chicken waterer as with the bird bath. Sometimes the bees drank it up and other times it was ignored.
Another observation about active feeding stations is bee traffic will get crazy! I have had visitors complain about the increased bee traffic ALL OVER the yard.
I believe if the bees need the sugar water they will take it. If they do not need it they will not take it. That being said, I know there are always exceptions.
I also believe in only feeding my bees IF and WHEN they need it.