You’ve checked your bees, combined as necessary but, of course, with a larger number of bees in a colony they will need more food. If you are in an area with balsam or ivy then it is likely your bees will continue to forage, weather permitting, and build up their stores for winter. If your bees have little or none of this source, then it is up to you to provide this in the form of one of the proprietary brands of syrup.

There are a number of options for feeding your bees aside from the obvious of leaving a super on for them:

1. Reduce the number of frames in the colony by using a frame feeder. Place this at the edge of the brood box so you can slide the roof to one side and top up as necessary, making a note of which side of the brood box you have put it! Ensure you have something floating on the syrup for the bees to stand on so they don’t drown (most frame feeders come with these) and that the inner sides of the feeder are rough so they can climb out and back onto the frames alongside (not all have this so just check).

2.Some hive manufacturers produce a ‘full rapid feeder’ which sits on top of the brood box and allows you to top it up with as much or as little as necessary without opening the hive. This has a perspex means of allowing the bees access to the syrup without a way of getting caught and drowning. It is best to remove this rapid feeder before the winter.

3. Using an inner hive cover (or crownboard) with a feeding hole in the middle, place a feeder over the hole. Feeders sold to be used in this way include large, square 'English' feeders or smaller, round  'rapid' feeders (pictured). This method requires you to use an empty super to contain the feeder. The roof then goes on top as usual.  Give your bees their first feed at dusk to discourage robbing. Subsequent feeds can be given during the day.  The advantage of this method is that you are already prepared with a means of feeding your bees fondant and/or pollen patties in the spring if they need it.  Furthermore, once the feeder has been removed, a sheet of insulation material, such as Cellotex, can be placed in the super over winter.

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