CAN I FEED MY BEES HONEY?
It makes sense, right? Bees do best eating honey rather than syrups (though not substantially), so why not feed bees old or leftover honey? There are some major cons to feeding bees honey rather than sugar or corn syrup. They are:
- Liquid Honey is very thick, and bees will often drown in any sort of open feeder.
- Old honey can have high HMF (Hydroxymethhylfurfural) levels, which can sicken a hive.
- Unknown Honey sources can carry foulbrood spores, thus infecting hives.
For those reasons, I don’t recommend routinely feeding your hives honey from other beehives. That being said, there are a few times bees certainly eat honey from other hives. Here are some instances when it’s OK, assuming you’ve verified the honey came from healthy hives or your own bee yard:
- You are taking frames of honey from a hive with excess honey and putting them directly into a hive that needs honey.
- You are allowing bees to rob out frames of honey due to a hive being honey bound.
- Other scenarios where you need bees to rob out frames from a healthy hive or need to transfer honey between healthy hives.
In summary, what I do not recommend is routinely using liquid honey to feed your bees in place of syrup. Occasionally to get rid of some honey, or to empty frames is fine, as long as they came from healthy hives.
Overwintering bees with a honey super
A question often asked; Can I overwinter my hive with a full super of honey they produced in the fall? Simple answer, yes, of course. It would be well advised to check it every few weeks as the bees consume it. The empty space it will create as winter progresses, could pose a temperature regulation problem if left on once empty. Often, you’ll find the bees will consume the middle of the super and not the outer frames. In this case, simply
Checking Honey Stores is as easy as 1-2-3
rotate these frames to the center as they are eaten and remove the entire box when empty.
Feeding freezer stored honey back to your bees
A lot of beekeepers freeze frames of honey as a storage method. As long as these frames are disease free – they absolutely can be fed back to bees as winter progresses. It’s very important however to let these frames fully thaw prior to putting them in a hive. Adding a frozen frame of honey could easily cause a colony to struggle trying to gain hive temperature especially on a cold winter’s day. We have plenty of warm “enough” days in the winter to go into a hive if needed. If the cluster of bees is small, add the honey frame closer to the cluster than to the outside of the box. This will ensure they have food close enough to get to in the event of a really cold snap.