Bees are fed a substitute for nectar which is made by mixing white sugar with hot water and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. For autumn feeding mix one kilo of sugar with half a litre of water (2lbs:1Pint). For spring and summer feeding mix one kilo of sugar with one litre of water (1lb:1 Pint. If winter feeds have too high a water content the bees may not have time to dehydrate it enough to prevent fermentation before winter sets in. If you have to feed in the winter months, i.e. Jan/Feb, it would be best to feed baker's fondant ( the soft icing on cakes) as this won't ferment and the bees can eat it straight away.
Never use unrefined or brown sugar as this causes dysentery in the bees. There is no evidence that refined beet sugar is any better or worse than refined cane sugar. Sugar syrup has no smell to the bees and it helps to add a little honey to make it more attractive and give it an aroma. Honey mixed with a little water can also be fed but be careful the honey you use is from a known and trusted source or you could infect your bees with foul brood or nosema spoors.
The syrup is given to the bees in containers placed above the brood box from which the bees can help themselves. Access to the syrup is restricted to prevent the bees from falling in and drowning. Never put an open container of syrup in a hive or you will lose hundreds of bees. Most beekeepers use purpose made containers made of plastic and holding approximately one litre (2Pints) of syrup. Ensure bees cannot enter the hive under the roof or you will invite robbing.
Put feeders on in the evening when the bees have, or will soon, stop flying. This allows the initial excitement of the bees to subside over night and reduces the risk of robbing. Reduce the entrance to allow the bees a better chance of fending off robbers. Also, be careful not to spill syrup around the outside of the hive.
As mentioned before pure sugar syrup has no smell and it is possible that bees will ignore or not even be aware of food just above their heads. To avoid this problem either dribble a little syrup into the brood to provide a trail to the feed or add honey or do both!
Arlyn Gale wrote:I would assume that nectar is ~ the same pH as honey - ~ 3.2-4.5 .