Bees not taking feed

by Merl

I installed two hives 2 weeks ago. On one hive the bees are not eating any of the sugar water. There are lots of bees in the hive and they seem to be returning with lots of pollen on their legs. On the other hive they are consuming a lot of sugar water.

Is it normal that one hive would not be eating sugar water?


Hi Merl,

It is a bit unusual that 2 hives installed at the same time would be behaving so differently. But that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong.

I'm going to assume that you've verified that there's no problem with the feeder in the one hive: no plugs or obstacles preventing the bees from taking the feed; no problem with the feed itself (sugar water can go bad after a time).

All that being OK, it's possible that the colony is bringing in enough natural forage that they aren't that interested in the feed. If there's plenty of nectar available, and enough bees to bring it in, a colony will shun the feed in favor of the natural forage. When that happens, it's OK to stop feeding.

Usually it takes more than two weeks after installation to reach that point, but not always.

The fact that they're bringing in pollen is an indication that the queen is likely laying, so I would imagine that all is well with that hive. If it were me I'd go ahead and take a peek inside to confirm.

You want to verify that the queen is laying, and that there's brood in multiple stages of growth. You should probably be able to see some nectar in cells, too - though there may not be any capped yet.

If all that looks OK, then you've just got a hive that's off to a really great start.

Good luck with your beekeeping!

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