feeding bees how to

How to convert sugar syrup to a different ratio

Someone asked how to convert 2:1 sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) to 1:1 syrup (1 part sugar to one part water). I think the easiest way would be to weigh the syrup, divide by 3, and add that much water to the mix.

Right now, your syrup is made of three parts (2 parts sugar and 1 part water). Each of these three parts weighs roughly the same amount. So by finding how much 1/3 of the total weighs, you have estimated how much water is in the mix. By adding that much water again, you have 2/3 of the total original weight in sugar and 2/3 of the total original weight in water—or 4/3 the total original weight in a ratio of 1:1.

For example, if you have 7 pounds of 2:1 syrup, divide by 3, which equals 2.3 pounds. Now measure 2.3 pounds of water and add it to the 7 pounds of 2:1 syrup and get 9.3 pounds of 1:1 syrup—or 4/3 as much by weight as you started with (7 x 4/3 = 9.33).

Although I’ve written that you can use either weight (mass) or volume when measuring the sugar and water to make syrup, the volumes are not additive. So if you add a gallon of sugar to a gallon of water you get more than a gallon of syrup, but less than two gallons. On the other hand, if you add a pound of sugar to a pound of water you get two pounds of syrup. Therefore, you need to do all your calculations by weight.

For the reason that beekeepers assume that water and sugar can be measured by either weight or volume, click here.


By the way, I’ve been told this description is clear “if you are awake, paying attention, and adequately caffeinated.” So if you still don’t understand, you might try that.


  • i don’t have a comment about your article other than to say it makes perfect sense to me. i like your site though. ‘a better way to bee’ that’s good. also the range you cover on your site is good too. projects, organizations and photography. you have done a good job. i’ll bet you have good traffic too. why don’t you monetize it? i am not selling anything, i am just wondering. you could make some money.

  • Rusty, is it even necessary to measure the ratio? Can’t one just mix some sugar and water to a viscosity similar to honey? That’s the way I do it, but I’m just running a one-hive operation here.

    (Note to howardski: Why on earth would you suggest that Rusty charge us a subscription rate? Are you her husband?)

    • Zoe,

      No! He’s not my husband, but I will accept flattery from anywhere.

      And, no, it’s not necessary to measure the ratio. As I’ve explained in other posts, every different nectar has a different ratio of sugars to water, and the bees like them all. However, I find that most people are uncomfortable with mixing syrup by feel, and they like to have guidelines . . . or precise instructions. So I’ve done a lot of experimenting to come up with conversions, etc. for those who want them.

      Myself? I just take a little of this and a little of that and stir it up . . . the same way I cook.

  • I have a bumble nest in my bird box. In the evening when they are returning to their nest, they land in the garden is there a reason for this? I have been making sugar water and putting it down in front of them. Is this ok.

    • Norma,

      They may be collecting water or nutrients from the soil. Giving them sugar water is fine.

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