After harvesting the honey, the bees have to be given a substitute food source. It is important to supply the bees with food immediately after harvesting the honey in order to avoid "panic" and hunger in the bee hive. At the same time it is not wise at this time point to give too much food at once. If there is too much food available, the bees will use all available space for honey storage and not leave enough space for the queen to lay the eggs for the winter bees.
Harvesting and thus feeding usually happens between the last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September. This timing will of course vary considerably with geographic location and vegetation type.
- In Finland, feeding might begin as early as the end of July, if the nectar flow ends very early. In South-West Finland, feed is given in three portions in order to avoid giving too much food before the eggs for the winter bees have been laid. Around two weeks after feeding the first time after harvesting, a larger amount of feed is given to the hive. By this time the eggs for the winter bees should have been laid. The total amount of 66% sugar solution amounts to 22-25 liters for one Langstroth hive body colony and 27-30 liters for two hive body colonies.
- In Dalsland, Sweden 12 kg sugar are given to every overwintered hive.