Let’s talk about making hard sugar candy feeding your bee’s in winter. There are many way’s to do this and I will only cover a couple. I prefer to use the cold method, which does not entail boiling of sugar and water. It is your choice as to which recipe and method you follow and discussion of pro’s and con’s of each is not part of this.
What we do know is that this does 2 things.
- The bee’s area and cluster is warm. This warm air then hits cold outside air and causes a bit of condensation. Bee’s also exhale which causes condensation. This condensation forms on the lid and will drip back down on the bee’s then causing them to be chilled and possibly die.
- If the bee’s did not put up enough honey (or you harvested too much) then they could starve. This provides emergency food for them to eat. Some have noticed that even if they have honey stored, they take the sugar and eat it first possibly to allow the spring bee’s and brood to have access to natural honey.
So these are the reasons I prefer to put the candy boards on. I start with a frame that is the dimensions of your hive body. Whether that is 8 frame, 10 frame, 5 frame nuc or even my Warre hive. The sides can be 1.5″ (3.81cm) or larger. I prefer about 1.75 – 2″.
I am currently trying several recipes. The first is a method that my club uses. Which is Every 5# of sugar you need 6oz of water. 1tsp of HBH per 5# http://www.indyurbanbeekeeping.org/2014/10/26/cold-candy-sugar-board-recipe/ The other recipe is made similarly, but it replaces the water with ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) and adds some vitamins and citric acid. This one is an experiment for me this year. Every 5# of sugar I use 5oz of ACV, 1oz of my own home made HBH, 1/2tsp citric acid and 4 pinches of vitamins. http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?290641-My-recipe-method-for-sugar-blocks
Regardless of which recipe you choose, they go together the same. My 5 frame Nuc candy boards hold a little more than 5#’s of sugar, so it is easy enough to just do 5#. I put the sugar in a 5 gallon bucket. I then add the vitamins and citric acid. Then I add the ACV and mix it together with a grout mixer on the drill or by hand. Dump it into my candy board then allow to dry. This is the basics. Now lets cover some details.
The vitamins I am able to find at TSC (Tractor Supply Company) for 4.99
When talking about ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) there are a few points. You want pure ACV. Not flavored or colored grain vinegar. I prefer to use Bragg’s as it is Organic, raw, unfiltered and contains mother.
Citric acid can be found in the canning section of your grocery store.
If you want to mix with a drill you will want to get a grout mixer. The spiral’s of it are opposite of a paint mixer or drywall mud mixer. And they are usually more stout than a paint mixer.
When you dump it in your candy board frame, you may want to put tissue paper (newspaper, brown packing paper) down first. This keeps the sugar from falling down through your screen and allows it to setup. The setup process. This can take 1-3 weeks just setting out. Be sure you put it down on the floor (basement or garage works fine) as you do not want the screen to sag. To speed up the drying process you could put it in a warm greenhouse, dehydrator or possibly your oven. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) My oven can go down to 100° and takes about 24 hours. I am wary about cooking sugar as it could bake out the vitamins or worse at some temperatures can make it carcinogenic. The boards are too long for my dehydrator, but I can open the door, and it takes about 3 days.
After drying then they are ready to go on the hive. For installing read Candy Board Installation