Advise: Why feed?

Just as hunger harms a bee population, a plentyful bee food offer tailored to the animals needs improves and saves a vital bee population.

A bee population should never suffer from a shortage of food. If the population’s supply approaches the 5 kg mark (two full DNs or Zander honeycombs) and the outside food supply diminishes, they are already beginning to be underfed. The population responds with emergency measures even before the food is gone:


limiting brood activity, cleaning activities and pollen collection; brood cannibalism can also result. The population tries to survive by robbing others. If the food supply is completely used up, the bees will sit trembling or motionless on the honeycombs; the first few bees will die, and the entire population will be wiped out within a few hours. Typical symptoms of starvation:

  • bees with their heads stuck in the cells
  • floor panel covered with thousands of deceased bees

The beekeeper’s first responsibility is to recognize and counteract under-feeding in a timely manner. In Germany, more bee populations die from starvation than from the commonly feared bee diseases.

Estimating food supply using the Liebefeld Method

For this method, use household rubber bands to divide an empty frame into eight equal squares. When you hold this structure over the honeycomb to be tested, you should see the following results:

One-eighth of a capped feed honeycomb side contains:

frame type bee food
DN 111 g
Zander 125 g
Langstroth 140 g
Dadant 175 g


A Zander honeycomb with 8 fully capped feed squares on one side, 4 capped squares on the other side,

Add up to: 8 + 4 x 125 g = 1500 g of feed on this honeycomb. Half-squares are also counted.

One full capped honeycomb produces 16 squares = 2000 g.

ambrosia® bee experts will assist you in any question re bee food.


Get more information here:

The cycle of a bee year

Reasons for feeding

Feeding alternatives


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