What do honey bees eat?

To ensure natural conditions for the bee apiary, it is necessary to monitor the quality and composition of the food.

About what honey bees eat, and how to feed them properly, we will talk further.

What honey bees eat: proper nutrition

The normal life of bee families requires conditions that are as close to the natural and natural environment as possible. Every beekeeper should know how to properly feed the bees, especially depending on the season. To begin with, let’s find out what bees prefer to add to their diet.

Working bees

Workers bees collect nectar and pollen from plants. During the collection, pollen sticks to the body of bees, and the nectar is transferred to the goiter, where even before returning to the hive, partially processed into honey. During the conversion of nectar into honey, a characteristic enzyme such as invertase is released, which allows you to divide the nectar into fruit and cane sugar. In fact, from the place of collection to the hive, the worker bee will spend about 30-45% of all collected and processed nectar. In fact, this is the main food for the bee.


Typically, during the first three to four days, young drones are fed with royal jelly and then include in their diet of Bee pollen and honey. Drones are intended for the fertilization of the mother, but they can also produce honey themselves in the “hungry year”. Actually, they eat honey in its main mass (except for the very young), and can eat it, as well as in their hive, and steal it from neighboring families. In summer, when stocks of honey are not yet made, drones can process sugar syrup into honey.

Queen bee

Queen bee, like drones, is fully in the care of working bees. It is mainly fed with royal jelly, especially after breeding, but also includes honey from the honeycomb unpacked by it.

The rules and features of a bee feeding

Here we should take into account that additional feed is required not only in winter but also in the summer season, as the weather in our country is extremely volatile. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the right balance in the diet.

In the cold season

It is not only the diet itself that is important but also the correct placement of supplementary food. Here are some rules that will help you protect the bee family during the cold period:

Try to make the food already from August.

Place the food at the top of the beehive, but as close as possible to the environment.

After winter, when in spring there is no natural food, try to add diluted honey to the hive (proportions are given below). And it is better to do it in the evening when bees are less active.

To avoid infection and death of bee families, use only “native” honey taken last season from the same hives for feeding.

Sugar syrup can also be used for feeding, but remember that you should give it only in a warm form.

It should be noted that in early spring, beekeepers can also give a substitute for pollen to feed their mothers. This is especially in demand if there is a shortage of natural pollen, prepared from last season.

In the warm season

Summer feeding also requires nutrients, especially if there are very few fields with herbs and other plants due to bad weather, climatic conditions, and so on. If in winter, many use sugar syrup, in warm seasons, including the last month of spring, you should use the so-called liquid feed. Liquid saturation is water-diluted honey. Especially such feeding is important in the spring when the offspring are formed.

Do honey bees eat their own honey?

When it comes to worker bees, their diet often consists of nectar (especially in warm seasons), sugar syrup, and honey. For example, for drones and honey bees, the use of honey is mandatory for life, given that the nectar and pollen reserves are exhausted.

But the diet for mothers and drones is based on royal jelly (for mothers after the litter, and young drones in the first few days) after birth.

It is a very common misconception among beekeepers and amateurs that they allow the use of “foreign” honey as food for their bees. That is, a beekeeping product taken from other hives, and not even from their apiary.

Summing up the above, it should be noted that nutrition is a guarantee of life and further reproduction of bee families. It should be understood that in a bad season bees simply can not prepare the right amount of nutrients for overwintering, especially if in the honeymoon season apiary will “clean” the hive completely. So try to add food already from the beginning of autumn, but first, check the need for it. And do not forget that the best food in a warm or cold period is honey, extracted by the same beehive.

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