Mixing and Using Sugar Syrup

"Thick, Thin and Very Thin"
By John Jessop

I've noticed that what should be a relatively simple task seems to be sometimes regarded as a dark art.
For my own bees, I feed "thin" syrup when the bees need immediate fuel to grow/maintain the colony whilst expanding in spring or during times of dearth such as the "June gap".   The traditional recipe for thin syrup is one pound of sugar to one pint of water.  I simply mix the ingredients in this proportion and stir until dissolved and use straight away (note this mix will ferment if you try to keep it for future use).


I feed "thick" syrup after removing the honey crop and completing the autumn varroa treatment for the bees to store in comb for winter stores. The traditional recipe for this thick syrup is two pounds of sugar to one pint of water.  This is harder to dissolve because it is approaching saturation but repeated agitation and patience can achieve solution without heat.  Using hot water will speed up the process considerably.  Adding "Hivemakers" Thymol preparation to the thick syrup will prevent fermentation and is said to prevent nosema in hives given the thymolised syrup.


A third option of very thin syrup is advised by some beekeepers as fuel for comb drawing. This very thin syrup being made up by adding one pound of sugar to two pints of water.  It is said that this has similar sugar content to many natural nectars.  Having such a high water content means it requires a lot of energy for evaporation if the bees try to store it so should not be fed indiscriminately.  I use normal thin syrup and my bees seem to be happy to build comb on that mix.


If you wish to make up your own syrup feel free to adapt to metric quantities as you prefer.  Other recipes may vary a little in quantities but the bees are very tolerant of minor variations.

© 2017 by Barkston Ash Beekeepers (BABKA)

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