Beekeepers usually supply their colonies with alternatives to nectar (i.e. sugar feeding) during dearth periods of the year, especially cold times of winter. The objective of the study was to determine the best substances to feed bees to enhance the tolerance and survival of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) to low temperatures. Seven feeding choices were compared under laboratory conditions. These feeding choices were: sugar syrup, liquid honey, creamed honey, honey candy, sugar candy, honey jelly, and honey/sugarcane juice jelly. The results showed that the number of bees attracted to each feeding choice was influenced significantly by feeding type. Worker bees were attracted to all feeding choices and showed a high preference to creamed honey, honey jelly or honey/juice jelly. The tolerance of honey bees to low temperature was enhanced when bees were fed on creamed honey, sugar syrup or honey candy. The mean time at which 50% of bees were able to survive ranged from 3 days (unfed bees) to 15.8 days (honey candy group). The survival rate of worker bees was highest when they fed on honey candy, creamed honey or sugar candy. In light of this study, creamed honey or honey candy can be considered the best feeding choices for bee colonies during winter to enhance their survival and tolerance to low temperatures.
honey bees; Apis mellifera; sugar; feeding; cold; tolerance