The difference between someone who keeps bees and a beekeeper is that a beekeeper is a farmer who needs to manage stock through difficult times. This bring us nicely to the subject of feeding bees ready for Winter.
Bees must have enough stores to go through the Winter and the first part of the Spring to enable them to reach the time next year when forage allows them to collect stores for the season. In the wild bees lay down surplus stores during the Summer to see them through the bad times. We know these extra stores as our honey crop and so must ensure that they do not run out after we have robbed them of much of the surplus.
Generally Winters are much milder than they used to be and so the amount of stores required is greater and I try to work on about 40 – 50 pounds per hive. A standard brood frame holds about 5 pounds and a super frame about 2 pounds and so it is easy to work out how much they have got.
If you need to help them along then sugar syrup at a mixture of 2 pounds of sugar to each pint of water will do fine. With this mixture the bees can easily convert it into stores at the correct dilution. Make sure the sugar is white granulated and they have easy access to the feeder. I tend to use contact feeders but everyone has their favourite.
If you need to emergency feed then use 1 pound of sugar to 1 pint of water where bees have run out of stores but try not to get to this stage.
Be a beekeeper and make sure your stock does not starve – remember someone who just keeps bees does nothing, crosses their fingers and often blames starvation on disease or colony collapse