BeekeepingStudy: Beekeeping Made Easier

What Do Bees Eat When There Are No Flowers?




What Do Bees Eat When There Are No Flowers

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Also, we do not constitute pet medical advice. Please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Flower is the main food source for bees. But we know flower doesn’t available for the entire year. So, what do bees eat when there are no flowers? Do they survive without flowers?

If they do, how? That’s what we are going to reveal now.

Undoubtedly bees are the greatest pollinators in the world. They contribute a lot to balancing our ecosystem. They do approximately 90% of the total pollination. So, without bees, you can’t think of the existence of flowers.

This is why they are the blessing of nature. They are contributing since more than 130 Million years ago. Exactly after the first flower was born in the world.

Learning about their eating habits is really important for us. Also, if we can help them to survive during the scarcity of flowers. It would also be a great contribution to the welfare of our ecosystem.




What Food Do Bees Eat?

Bees eat sugary foods. Their main food source are pollen and nectar collected from various types of seasonal flowers.  As we know there are 3 types of bees in a colony.

  1. Worker bees.
  2. Drone bees.
  3. Queen bee.

The worker bees of a colony collect the food for the entire colony. They can travel up to 5 miles to collect pollen from flowers. Drone bees are only to mate with the queen for reproduction.

Bee collecting pollen from flower
Bee collecting pollen from flower


So, they eat only honey and mate with the queen. They don’t have any other job to do. From collecting food to taking care of broods and queens everything is done by worker bees.



How Do Worker Bees Eat?

Worker bees travel from flower to flower. During this, they eat nectar from flowers. Then they store nectar in their pollen basket.

So, while they are traveling from one flower to another, they are actually transferring pollen from one flower to another. After collecting pollen and nectar through their pollen basket, they return to their beehive.

In the beehive, they fed their queen, broods, and drone bees. The remaining nectar is stored as honey in the honey cell.



What Does Queen Bee Eat?

As we know queen bee is the heart of the colony. Without the queen bee, a colony won’t survive. Because she is the only reproducible member of the colony.

Not only this queen bee runs the entire colony. The pheromone released by the queen distributes the work among workers. So, worker bees take special care of her.

Worker bees fed the queen a pre-digested blend of nectar and pollen well known as honey. The queen requires a high amount of nectar for reproduction. She also needs to digest the food fast to produce more energy. This is why workers fed her a pre-digested blend of nectar.



What Do Brood Bees Eat?

Brood bees are the future generation of the colony. During the larvae and pupae stage they eat only honey and nectar. Worker bees take care of brood bees very carefully during this stage.

The future queen brood is taken special care. Worker bees fed her special honey well known as “Royal Jelly”. But the other brood bees eat normal honey. Bees in their brood stage don’t eat anything instead of honey.




Would Bees Survive Without Flowers?

Bees can survive without flowers for a certain period of time. But they won’t survive for long without any nectar collected from flowers.

Queen bee needs continuous honey to consume. Because she needs to lay eggs.

Nectar collected from flowers is rich in protein. This helps them to produce higher energy. No other food source can produce more energy for bees than this.

But it doesn’t mean that bees won’t survive without any flowers. They will eat their stored honey. Also, they can eat sugary foods from other sources when there is a scarcity of flowers.



What Do Bees Eat Besides Flowers?

Bees have a pollen and nectar-rich diet. But they don’t rely only on flowers. They can eat from plenty of other sources besides flowers.

They will try the following alternatives when there is a scarcity of flowers.

  1. Bees will try to collect nectar from non-flowering plants.
  2. They will eat honeydew.
  3. They can also eat sugary fruits.
  4. Honeydew.
  5. Molasses.
  6. Sweet.

They can eat from plenty of other sources for survival besides flowers. They eat only sugary foods. So, things like sweet cakes, candy, and sugar syrup can also be alternative foods for them.



What Do Bees Eat To Survive When There Are No Flowers?

Bees do not solely depend on flowers for survival. Only brood bees need a constant supply of nectar collected from flowers. Adult bees can survive without flowers for a certain period of time.

Yes, flower is their main food source. This is why you might be seen bees become aggressive during fall. When there is a scarcity of flowers.

When there is a scarcity of food bees try to eat other things for survival. This can include honeydew from various insects, tree sap, stored honey, and so on.

Bees change their instinct to survive when there are no flowers. They try the following to eat and survive when there are no flowers.



Worker Travels Longer Distance

When there is a scarcity of flowers close to the colony, worker travels longer distance where a flower may be available. Worker bees can travel more than 5 miles per day to collect nectar.

Definitely, they won’t travel this long if they can find flowers within less distance than this. But if they can’t find flowers at a small distance from their colony they will travel longer.



Stored Honey

Worker bees work hard to store honey during flowering seasons. So that they can feed the colony during winter when there is a scarcity of food.

Stored Honey
Stored Honey


So, while flowers are reduced or the atmosphere is too cold bees remain in the hive. So, they eat their stored honey for the rest of the season.



Honeydew And Tree sap

Honeydew is a sticky substance produced by aphids and some other insects as waste. Honeydew is rich in sugar that is produced while insects eat tree sap.


Tree sap
Tree sap


Aphids and some other insects can eat tree sap by excavating tree tissues. But they can’t digest all the collected sugary liquid as tree sap. The undigested part is released as waste known as honeydew.

When bees do not find any flower they first try to eat honeydew from other insects.

Bees also start consuming sap from trees and fruits as a source of energy. Bees have strong mandibles using which they can collect sap by piercing plant tissues.



Sugar Syrup

Beekeepers feed sugar syrup to bees. Sugar syrup is prepared by beekeepers which provides the protein requirement exactly like honey.

Frame containing sugar syrup
Frame containing sugar syrup



Bees like to eat sugar syrup as they like to eat honey. This is why beekeepers always place a sugar syrup pot close to the beehive.



Sugary Foods

Bees can eat sugary foods as an alternative to nectar. I have seen it in my father’s shop bees eating sugarcane treacle.  Also, some bees are swinging around dates fruits, and sweets.

From this, I came to learn that bees can eat sugary foods too. Also, sometimes I fed my bees candies and chocolate cakes.

When I introduce a new queen in any of my beehives I add a candy with the queen cage. So, that the queen can eat candy during the period she is in the cage.



Swarming Away

While there is a scarcity of foods bees are more likely to swarm away where flowers are available.

The scout worker bees are sent to look for a suitable home. The scout bee found the perfect location for their new beehives. The perfect location is around where a lot of flowering plants are available.

After that swarming takes place. The queen with the colony moves to their new home.




This is the cruelest thing bees do when there is no way to feed the entire colony. Cannibalism simply refers to bees consuming other bees of the same colony.



When there is very scarcity of food the strong worker bees consume the weak bees. Mainly worker bees kill the drone bees to limit reproduction.

Because when there is no flower there is scarcity of food. Brood bees only eat nectar collected from flowers. So, during scarcity, brood bees are an extra burden for the colony. This is why worker bees kill drone bees when there is a lack of flowers.



If you are interested to learn detail about honey nutrition you can check this.




Frequently Asked Questions Related To Bees Eating Habit


What Is Bees Favorite Food?

Nectar collected from flower pollen is the bee’s favorite food. This is well-known as honey. Flower pollen produces a high amount of energy. This is why nectar produced from flower is bee’s favorite food.

What Fruit Do Bees Love?

Bees can eat fruit juice besides the nectar of flowers. They love to eat fruits that are highly sugary. This can include grapes, palms, mango, dates, apples, watermelons, cherries, etc.

Can You Give Bees Sugar Water?

Of course, you can. In fact, beekeeper gives sugar syrup to beehives for feeding bees. Sugar syrup fulfills the requirement of honey.

Do Bees Eat Their Own Honey?

Yes, they eat their own honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers from which they produce honey. They stored the extra honey for eating purposes during scarcity.

What Do Bees Eat Without Honey?

Bees eat sugary foods when there is no honey. They can eat cake, sugar syrup, fruit juices, candy, molasses, etc. Their main food is honeydew when there is no honey.




Final Words

Hopefully, you learned what bees eat for survival when there are no flowers. Though flower is their main source of food, it is not their only food source. They rely on so many other sources of food to survive during scarcity.

Fruits, tree sap, sugary foods, honeydew, and a lot more ways they try for feeding purposes. If you can you should help bees by providing food sources during scarcity.

You can’t ignore the significance of bees for our ecosystem. So, it is our job to ensure their existence. Try to cultivate more flowering plants to help the greatest pollinators of the world.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts