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bucket feeder being placed on top of a hive

Fall Feeding: Bucket Feeding Method

When it comes to feeding bees, it is important to know when to feed, when not to feed, and why you’re feeding. During the fall our goal is to set our bees up for success so that they can survive through the winter. Feeding sugar syrup is cheap insurance.

What You’ll Need

  • 2:1 Sugar syrup
  • Plastic pail with a screened lid (can be purchased or made)
  • Inner cover with a screened/unscreened hole
  • Empty box (optional)
  • Lid (optional)

A Quick Note on Sugar

The recommendations for feeding in the prairies is to have a 2:1 syrup. When you are mixing your syrup at home, it is important to ensure that you are not letting your syrup boil. This creates hydroxymethylfurfural or HMF, which is toxic to your bees. You can read all about the complexities of sugar for bees in this Bee Culture article.

Setting Up Your Feeding System

Once you have all of your equipment ready to go, it’s time to start feeding!

Eliese pointing to the screened pail lid, with the bucket filling with sugar syrup on the right.

Step 1: Filling Your Bucket

Fill your bucket as much as possible. Bucket feeding works because a vacuum is created in the bucket once it’s inverted. If your bucket isn’t full, that vacuum won’t be created and you run the risk of having all your syrup pour out.

Eliese placing the bucket of syrup onto the hive.

Step 2: Place the Bucket on Your Hive

You’ll want to place your bucket on top of your inner cover. Make sure the lid on your bucket is secure and flip it so that the hole on the lid lines up with the hole of the inner cover. Once you’ve placed your bucket on your hive, don’t worry, the syrup isn’t free pouring into the hive. The bees can choose when to drink that syrup by physically moving up to the screened lid to access it.

Step 3: Securing Your Hive (Optional)

The nice thing about bucket feeding is that it is a closed feeding system so you’re not luring any robbers or wasps with this feeding method. However, if you are worried about robbers and wasps, you can place an empty around your bucket and place a lid on top.

Watch How It’s Done

If you want to watch our fall feeding process, check out the video below!


There are other feeding methods that you can use such as frame feeders and hive top feeders, but this is definitely our favourite for the fall. If you have any questions or want to share your fall feeding experience with us – get in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram!