Feeding your bees is one of the most important thing you can do for your bee colony. A well fed healthy hive can fend off most diseases and parasites. A weak hive with poor nutrition and little resources will have a much smaller chance of survival from diseases and parasites. Your be colony requires both proteins from pollen and carbohydrates in the form of sugar to be healthy. The proteins from pollen are needed for the colony to produce larva or new worker bees. Feed your bees with a combination of pollen patties, sugar water and or other supplements that can support hive health.
There are several methods to feed your bees.
Entrance feeders can be very easy to use you need to cut the entrance reducer to work with the feeder. The sugar water jars can be changed with out getting into the hive. Some beekeepers have robbing problems with entrance feeders using a entrance reducer can help prevent this. If robbing becomes a problem you may need to feed your bees internally.
Top Feeders are a plastic tub that fits into a standard hive body and is placed over the main hive. These feeders are great for feeding large amounts of sugar water and can be filled by simply removing the top cover and pouring in new sugar water. Most of these types of feeders do not allow bees to escape through the top.
Frame Feeders a frame feeder takes the place of one or two of the frames inside the hive and is filled with one to two gallons of sugar water. These feeders will require you do open the hive to refill the feeder.
Feeding with a empty hive body this is done by removing the top cover only and placing a empty hive body on top of the inner cover. You can then place mason jar feeders inside the hive body. Then place the top cover on top of the hive body used for feeding. The bees will use the vent hole in the inner cover to get to the feeder jars. This is a very cost effective way for the average beekeeper to feed his bees.
Feeding your bees through the top cover this will require drilling a hole through the top of your top cover. The hole will need to tightly fit the feeder jar this method works well and is most commonly used with nuc boxes.
Sugar water mixing ratio five pounds of sugar makes one gallon of sugar water.
Pollen substitutes also called pollen patties is a protien source a beekeeper can use to encourage brood production in a hive prior to the availability of forage. Done properly your bee colony will have greater numbers of foragers going into the main nectar flow. Here in Colorado I will start to feed my bees sugar water and pollen patties in March and keep feeding them until there is plenty of forage available for the bees.