Sometimes honeybee colonies consume more of their honey supplies than they bring in. During times of drought or seasons when plants are not blooming, bees can be in danger of starving unless they are fed. Supplemental sugar syrup (sucrose) feeding is an ideal way to keep a colony’s weight from declining dangerously.
Many commercial beekeepers feed high fructose corn syrup, or various custom blends of sucrose and fructose, that are delivered in enormous tanker trucks. Most small-scale beekeepers, however, simply mix sugar and hot water in a bucket to make a few gallons of syrup at a time.
A strong colony can consume a gallon of sugar syrup in approximately 1 or 2 days! Each gallon of thick sugar syrup (of approximately a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water) adds approximately 7 lbs. of weight to a colony.
Raising queen honeybees also requires a great deal of syrup. The quality of queen bees is directly proportional to the quantity and consistency of food that is coming in. Conscientious queen breeders feed to the maximum, not only syrup, but syrup and pollen substitutes, leaving nothing to chance, and keeping the entire queen rearing operation well fed at all times.