Since the bees had forgotten how to be honeybees, I needed to try to help them. Both of the hives were very low in food stores. Feeding them was the best option to try to boost their stores. Fall feedings are different than spring feedings. In the fall the bees are given more sugar which makes a thicker syrup. The ratio is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.
One of the big factors in fall feeding is the temperatures. Once it gets too cold the bees no longer take in the syrup and the beekeeper needs to switch to solid foods for the bees. Once the bees stop taking in the syrup, if the feeders are left in the hives it can cause excess moisture. In Massachusetts, extra moisture in the winter is a concern. If it happens to freeze, it can be devastating for the colony.
The syrup feeders that I have for my hives are double feeders and hold two 1 quart jars each. Each batch of syrup that I made was 10 cups of sugar to 5 cups of water. I found a lot of conflicting information online about wether you should boil the water or not. For the syrup I made, I did not boil the water. I heated the water enough so that I could dissolve the sugar into it. When I am making food for the bees, I make it the morning that I am going to feed it to them.
There is a lot of debate about essential oils and if they provide any benefit to the bees. Of course there is debate about wether essential oils provide benefit for anyone, I believe that they do. I use them in my home and with my family for different things. If they can provide any assistance to the bees I will continue to put them in their food. I found a recipe from Don “The Fat Bee Man” on YouTube for essential oils to add to the winter syrup here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvhlTufUV3Y.
I used my immersion blender to make it and it worked really well.
Both of the colonies took in a lot of syrup before the temperatures got too cold. I also learned quite a bit this year during the fall feedings. Having the bottom of the hives open is a very bad idea. The hungry wasps, that get much more aggressive in the fall, can smell it and they want it. Closing up the bottoms of the hives and putting up some kind of baffle over the entrance is the safest way to go. Both of my colonies were on the small side this year and they needed all the help they could get.