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How to Feed Packaged Bees

Did you ever consider the fact that you would have to feed packaged bees installed into a new hive?

Feed packaged bees to help them stay nourished while they are building their reserves. They will be of no use and will have little productivity if they are underfed. They may even leave the hive!

Wow, I’m sure glad I prepared myself for this fact before I received my first round of packaged bees. My husband even laughed at the fact that we were gaining “bee chores” to add to our daily list of livestock chores.

Because, that’s what bees are. Little livestock. They need a little loving care from the beekeeper until they adapt to their new surroundings. The main reason to feed packaged bees from the moment they are installed is because they don’t have much or maybe even anything to eat in the new hive.

Like livestock, packaged bees need nourishment for the work and energy they are exerting. Feed them sugary supplement they will love. Plant flowers and plants that attract them to ingredients they need to prepare that nourishing food.

feeding packaged bees

Think Local

There are numerous ways to feed bees so they will thrive in their  new hives. I have listed a few ways I use or plan on trying in my first year of beekeeping.

Keep in mind that these methods I discuss below are specific to my area of the world. I live in Kansas, which has a very changeable and temperate climate. I never know what weather the next day will bring, so I like to be prepared and offer a variety.

To know what methods of feeding bees work best in your area, ask your mentor or fellow beekeeping group.

Most of them will tell you to incorporate sugar water as the bees’ first food.

Sugar Water

An easy first food for packaged bees is a 1:1 mixture of sugar water. For example: 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Mix it all together and you have a sweet and delicious syrup bees go crazy for.

In the first week, I filled my mason jar entrance feeders in each hive with sugar water every 2-3 days. With no honey reserves in a new hive, they have to build their own. It takes time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. The bees are mystifying but they aren’t magical. The honey pot will take months to build and a year to produce an oversupply for you and me.

So, keep the containers full until the bees make enough honey to sustain themselves.

feeding packaged bees

Pollen Patties

Many beekeepers place pollen patties inside the hives to feed packaged bees.  This works well when there is low pollen counts available.

You can purchase pollen patties or make your own.

I plan to explore recipes to make my own pollen patties. If you have a great recipe, please share it with me in the comments!

Candy Canes

Yes. I know seasoned beekeepers who use candy canes to feed their bees. It’s a practice for cooler environments or if sugar water isn’t available.

They simply break some apart into pieces and place them inside the entrance.

This is an awesome way to feed bees through the winter without worrying about sugar water freezing up. Candy canes are sweet and stay together well

Feeding my bees candy canes is something I will be trying when that season comes.  Bees may need a lot of sugary sweet. They also enjoy veggie plants, too.

feeding packaged bees

Different Flowers and Plants for Different Seasons

Sadly, flowers and trees do not bloom all year around. I sure wish they would so my bees could enjoy blooms longer.

But, the good news is, it is possible to provide vegetation through the year by planting different seasonal plants.

Besides native and natural plants and wildflowers, I’ve installed a sunflower patch, many different herbs and garden vegetables, and various flowers.

Bees also really love legumes, such as clover.


Red clover and alfalfa are just a few legumes bees are attracted to.

I sowed the clover seed into our brome hay field near the hives. Natural native clover is also thick around these parts.

The bees have plenty of clover legume to pollinate and enjoy.

feed packaged bees

Sustain Your Bees

Why wouldn’t you want to?

Imagine yourself moving into a home with no food. Ideally, you’d go to the grocery store and buy food. But, it would need to be available to you. Otherwise you wouldn’t stay in that area.

If you want your bees to stay, they need to be in an environment where they are well-fed and safe.

So, know what food is available in the environment to feed packaged bees. Give bees some supplemental food right into the hive. Plant varieties bees will love that bloom different times through the year.

Food planning for your bees will help keep them nourished so they can perform at their peak. If they have healthy food readily available to them, they will thrive in their hives.

As they thrive and build up their new hive, enjoy watching them make that liquid gold honey for them and for us.

~ Much Love ~

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