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Stimulative Feeding

Are there any benefits?

Stimulative feeding is done to try to encourage the queen to lay more eggs, so the colony will build up quicker to take advantage of an early nectar flow, such as oil seed rape (OSR). It is an old idea that was advocated long before OSR was grown widely and is mentioned in many of the older books.

I believe the origin of "thin syrup", made from 1lb sugar/pint of water, is that it was used for spring stimulation in the belief it made the bees think there was a nectar flow. Some modern beekeepers also feed proprietary stimulants.

In my early days in beekeeping, I practiced stimulative feeding, but I didn't think it always had the effect it should have had. I suspect it works much better in colonies with prolific queens, but I found that if the colony had enough stores it would build up well enough on its own.

Although I live in the south of England, we can still have frosts until May, when bees can go back into semi-cluster. My concern has always been that if the brood nest is stretched, the outer areas of brood will be the ones to suffer. Also, if the ratio of brood is too high compared to the number of nurse bees to look after it, I think there may be a nutrition problem, allowing disease to erupt, chalk brood in particular, but possibly EFB as well. It seems to me that whenever you push something falsely, the weaknesses appear.

Michael Bush, on his website has brought together some quotes from well known beekeepers who have been opposed to stimulative feeding. I accept that most of them are American, but they have prolific bees that are likely to gain most benefit from stimulative feeding.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 14/05/2013

Page updated 04/09/2022