Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter Candy for the Bees

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make candy cakes for the bees.
 As you might know, bees are stuck in the hive for the duration of the winter. They spend much of the time huddled in a ball, flexing (shivering) to keep the queen, the brood and themselves warm. To keep warm, the bees need a constant source of food, which is where honey comes in. The reason bees make and store honey is to survive the winter. The only problem is that here I come in the fall and remove a bunch of the honey.
Now, of course I think I left the bees with plenty, a full 9.75" deep box, but I don't really know
So, just to be sure my bees don't starve to death, I feed the bees in the winter. Last winter I fed dry sugar, which works, but is not the best bee feed. So this year I made candy cakes following the simply recipe from  

Candy cakes drying on the counter.
 The nice thing about these candies is that they are clean and easy to place in the hive (unlike dry sugar), they are easy to store, and they have a bit of apple cider vinegar to keep them from spoiling (unlike sugar syrup). The other thing about dry sugar is that the bees might mistake it for dirt or other contaminants in the hive, and so will carry it outside and dump it. Bees are tireless house cleaners!
I made these candy cakes a couple weeks ago and placed them on the hives, just in case. Today was warm enough, so I opened the hives to see how our girls are doing and this is what I found.

Bee colony feeding on candy.
The bees seem to be doing well, they are active and smell like clean honey - all good signs. The thing I didn't expect was for them to be eating the candy already. I was thinking that the honey would last them longer into the spring. But that's why I feed, because you never know. We are just getting into the hardest time for the bees. Late winter and early spring is when most colonies die, and is when I lost one last year. Later in the spring, I'll feed candy and protein to jump start the colonies and get them ready for the bloom, but until then, I'll keep feeding the bees candy cakes and hope for the best.


No comments: