Since we installed them, we've been back once to make sure the queens had made their way out and a couple more times to feed them. We also had our mentor come back to help with our first real inspection (more on that in a minute).
Before learning anything about beekeeping, I would have never guessed that you'd have to feed them. I figured they were wild creatures, surely they'd take care of themselves, right? The reality is, when you get a package of bees, they are young and not yet established in the hive. They have to produce a lot of wax to pull out all of their comb before they even have a place to start storing nectar. Also, the nectar flow is a bit minimal in April. So, you have to feed them.
A bee's natural food is honey (yeah, they don't make it just for us!) but until they can get their comb pulled and start making honey from the May-June nectar flow, we feed them sugar water. Also known as "simple syrup."
If you don't keep bees yourself (which I am assuming not very many of you do), you can use simple syrup in homemade lemonade, sweet tea or cocktails. This extra step really makes a big difference in the intensity of the sweetness than just adding sugar alone. Though I'm going to give you super easy step by step instructions for how to make it for bees, it really can be used for anything that needs to be super sweet.
The ratio for simple syrup is... well, simple. It's 1:1. I have a lot of bees to feed so I will be using an entire 5lb bag of sugar (or 10 cups) to 2.5 quarts (also 10 cups) of water.
|Remove water from heat source.|
This will help avoid burning the sugar.
(Burnt sugar will ruin the syrup and make the bees sick.)
There you have it! A super simple tutorial for simple syrup.
A couple of funny things that happened while making my first batch of simple syrup:
1) We don't eat refined sugar in our house so when I saw "sugar" on my grocery list I literally stood there in the grocery store trying to think of what I meant to type, thinking that my phone had autocorrected to sugar. "Oh yeah, you have to feed your BEES!" Duh...
2) The whole time I was making it I was daydreaming about the most delicious cocktail I have ever had. We went to a fancy schmancy restaurant years ago and I had my first Lemon Drop. It was the owner's special made with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. It was served in a frosty glass with sugar around the rim. I might have had a few and they tasted like the sweetest lemonade I had ever had. A few months later, remembering the deliciousness, I ordered a lemon drop at a bar. It was made with lemon juice out of a plastic bottle and sweet and sour mix. It was served in a plastic cup and was watered down by ice. It was pretty disgusting. I suppose I was spoiled pretty badly because I couldn't even finish it. Good times, haha.
As for our findings during our first hive inspection, we located both queens, eggs, larva, pupae and capped brood. They had actually slowed down on the sugar water consumption big time (a sign that they are finding plenty of nectar!) which is a good sign that they are thriving in their new environment. Our mentor was super pleased with what he saw and said that the next time we check on them (you do inspections every two weeks), their numbers will have DOUBLED! We were so proud of them!!
Do you have any special recipes involving simple syrup? Please share them below! Also, have you had any flashbacks to your wild and fancy free college days lately? Do tell!
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