Leaving out a spoonful of sugar to feed the bees might sound like a sweet gesture, but it could be the death of them and of quality local honey, beekeepers have warned.

Maltese honey bees have evolved to survive the dry summer months and the scarcity of water and food serves as a natural way of keeping pests and their diseases away from beehives. 

Leaving sweet substances outside for them to eat counteracts that scarcity and helps spread other pests and diseases, the Malta Beekeepers’ Association said on Monday.

People have been sharing advice like this on social media but it does more harm than good.People have been sharing advice like this on social media but it does more harm than good.

The association issued the warning after a local radio show advised listeners that a teaspoon of sugar left outdoors could help bees flourish.

Bees are under serious threat, in Malta and overseas, due to pesticide overuse, climate change and rapid human development. Some experts estimate that Malta’s bee population has declined by more than 60 per cent over the past 20 years alone.

Using sugar to feed bees is not just bad for the insects: it also ends up diluting the quality of the honey they produce. 

“Simply put, the sweet substances might end up in the honey which we eventually consume,” the association explained.

So, what to do if you are keen on lending nature’s great pollinators a helping hand? Instead of sugar or sweets, consider leaving flowers which are good for bees outside.

As the association put it: “Save the bees by increasing flowers, and let the beekeeper take care of their health”.

You can find a comprehensive list of flower species ideal for pollinators on the Malta Beekeepers Association website.

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