Alternative to off-season sugar supplements feeding of honey bees

Author: 

Neupane, K. R. and R. B. Thapa. 2005. J. Inst. Agric. Anim. Sci.26:77-81(2006).

Keywords: 

Off season, honey bee feeding, sugar supplement.

 An experiment was conducted at Gorkha Bee farm, Yagyapuri, Chitwan during rainy season of 2005 to investigate alternative to sugar supplement feeding and reduce cost feeding during off season. Apis mellifera L. honey bee colonies were prepared with 5 combs of covering bees and 3.5 combs of brood and queen of similar quality. Each of 5 different supplemental feedings: i) sugar syrup (1:1 sugar and water); ii) rice bran syrup (100 gm rice bran soaked in 1 liter of water and after 4 hours blended, filtered and added 200 gm sugar + 20 gm honey and required water to make 1 liter ); Iii)  maize syrup ( 100 gm maize flour soaked in 1 liter water and after 4 hours blended, filtered and added 200 gm sugar +20 gm honey and required water to make 1 liter); iv) banana syrup ( 100 gm ripen peeled banana mixed in 1 liter water, blended, filtered and added 200 gm sugar + 20 gm honey and required water to make 1 liter); and  v) pumpkin syrup ( 100 gm boiled pumpkin after removing outer hard core mixed in 1 liter water, blended, filtered and added 200 gm sugar + 20 gm honey and required water to make 1 liter) was placed inside the hive in a division board feeder @ 30 ml per comb of honey bees per day at an interval of 3 days. Feeding honey bees with sugar syrup increased number of brood cells by 53.5 % , brood combs by 37.1 % and comb covered by  bees by 32 %. Honey bee colonies when fed with banana and pumpkin syrup increased brood cells by 16.3 % and 2.8 %, brood comb by 17.1 % and 8.6 % and bees covered number of combs by 12 % and 3.2 %, respectively. Number of brood cells, brood combs and covered combs by bees remained almost constant when honey bee fed with pumpkin syrup. On the other hand, feeding bee colonies with maize and rice bran syrup decreased the number of brood cells by 11.2 % and 35.2 %, brood comb by 11.4 % and 11.4 % and bees covered comb by 24.0 % and 24.0 %, respectively.  The cost of off season feeding was the highest (Rs. 247.0) for sugar syrup followed by maize syrup (Rs 140.4), banana syrup (Rs 117.4), rice bran (Rs 113.4), and pumpkin syrup (Rs 105.4). All of the feeding materials were safe to bee feeding. Banana syrup feeding was found superior to others, and therefore, its supplementation can reduce the cost of sugar feeding by more than 50 % and increase brood production during off season.