I have been buying honey from a local apiary. They told me they feed their...

Asked August 22, 2015, 10:32 AM EDT

I have been buying honey from a local apiary. They told me they feed their bees lots of sugar water to supplement the bees natural foraging diet. I was shocked. Is this practice normal? Is this honey as healthy as a non sugar supplemented bee diet?

Knox County Tennessee

1 Response

Hello,

Yes, feeding sugar water to honey bees is a common practice. Reputable beekeepers do not feed the supplement while honey comb is present, therefore the honey is not artificially diluted. Beekeepers must also not harvest the honey that the bees need to eat over winter, only excess honey, which the bees would not be able to consume in a season. Feeding stimulates health brood (baby bee) production, helps reduce symptoms of many pathogenic diseases like European foul brood and Nosema and is actually safer than feeding the bees honey (which can harbor harmful microorganisms).

It is true that honey contains many nutritionally beneficial components that sugar water does not contain, but if the colony needs to be fed for it to survive and be healthy, sugar water is what is recommended.