There are a number of methods of feeding sugar to a colony. Sugar fed in a dry form can be used in an emergency. The sugar is heaped, perhaps ½ kg to 1 kg, on the inner mat of a hive. The amount given depends on the strength of the colony. This method has been used to feed bees through winter when the colony is running short of stored honey. Feeding liquids in the form of sugar syrup could be detrimental for the colony as it may promote the circumstances by which nosema disease proliferates. Minimising hive manipulation during the cooler months reduces the incidence of nosema disease.
The honey stored in the hive may be determined by ‘hefting’ the hive, or more accurately by weighing each side with a spring balance or similar and adding the figures – more accurate than a quick tilt as the hives will appear heavier as the number tested increases. A good trick is to make a hole in the sugar bag and fill with water then let drain – this will make the sugar stick together otherwise the bees will scatter it and it will get lost through the floor (if you have an open mesh one)