The beekeepers have observed that if the bee colonies do not have 2 to 3 kg of honey in store and the reserves fall below a certain minimum level, the bee colony begins to show the symptoms of starvation. The first sign of starvation in colonies is the removal of larvae, which may be seen discarded in front of the hive. Also before the winter or dearth period starts the high level of food reserve is necessary as a protection against starvation, as the bee-keeper will not be able to open up the hive to check stores as the cold or rainy season progresses. Artificial feeding also becomes necessary during droughts, at the time of making artificial division in the colony, hiving the swarm, packing the bees for transport etc. These are artificial food for bees that include candy, sugar syrup and pollen substitute preparation and the methods of feeding the same which are described here.
The first choice of food for bees is usually honey. Honey with a strong flavour, unsuitable for marketing can be used for feeding. White table sugar is the most common feed for bees. Un-refined brown sugar in the form of a wet patty of cakes in the tropical areas, waste sugar from refining mills, glucose, fructose, disaccharides, tri-saccharides are fed to the bees in climates where bees can make frequent flights to void faecal matter, these types of feeds are satisfactory. The traditional alternative sugar food for colonies is candy, which is soft, fudge-like sugar solid bee food, used at times when bee will not take sugar syrup for instance, when bees are confined in cage for transportation. In the past, candy was used during winter to feed colonies. At present it is used by some supply rums to provide food for package bees in transit and a special mix called queen-cage. Candy when queen are being shipped in queen-cage. Candy are manufactured from enzyme inverted sugar. The candies and sugar syrups can be prepared at the bee farm in the following ways:
Homemade candy can be prepared by boiling 3.2 kg sugar in one litre of water until it reaches a temperature of 117-220 C after which it is allowed to cool for a while and then beaten until it grows thick and white to prepare candies. Queen-cage-candy can be made by mixing ground candy or icing sugar with honey until the required consistency is reached. The honey prevents the candy from becoming bard.
The standard feed for bees is sugar syrup. Ratio of 1:1 syrup is made by dissolving 1 kg of sugar in 1.25 litre of water which is called light syrup. Ratio of 2:2 syrup is made by dissolving 2 kg of sugar in 1.25 of water and is called heavy syrup. Warm water can be used for dissolving the sugar, but do not allow the syrup to get boiled. Heavy syrup are more useful. The colonies should be fed in such a way that syrup is consumed by the bees within 2 -3 days.