Monday, March 23, 2015

Sugar Syrup for Spring

Spring has finally started to show around the bee yard. There were moments I honestly despaired that spring might never arrive.

Mud is becoming more frequent and squishier with all the snow melting. We revived over nine, yes NINE feet of snow in the bee yard. But Turkey Vultures, skunks, and woodpeckers rapping on trees are more more welcome signs of spring!

Many signs of spring are important to bees and beekeepers. The red tips of maple trees are a sure sign that one of the most important nectar sources is on the horizon. Maple trees will be in flower in a few short weeks providing much needed pollen and nectar for the bees as they emerge from their winter of cuddling.

To help them get going this spring, I plan to feed them the remnants of  their own honey from last year but I don't expect that to go very far. I might need to supplement with sugar syrup.

In the spring I use a 1:1 sugar syrup. This means that for each cup of sugar I use one cup of water.

 I measure out both the water and the sugar so I am ready. I start the water heating and when it is boiling, I add the sugar and then remove the heat.

Then I stir it until it is clear and the sugar is dissolved completely. This will need to cool before giving it to the  bees. It is at this point if you want to add essential oils or medication, you can do so when cool. 

Thyme, lemongrass, and spearmint are common oils to add in the spring and can help bees cleanse their guts from overwintering. Other options include adding fumagilin B to help control nosema

On another, but related note, I was talking with a friend about keeping bees and why I do so. Part of my answer, which was longer than I expected, included that it is important to me to support the food supply and this is one important way I can help keep variety in my diet. So go bees!!

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