It looks like I’ve got a trilogy in the making because it’s too cold to slip these sugar bricks in my beehives today. In Episode I, 12 cups of refined granulated sugar were mixed with 1 cup of water and troweled into a tin pan with my bare hands. The last we saw of our big wet bricks of sugar, they were sitting in an oven with only the light on. Ten hours later we return and open the oven to find…
It works and I like it. The wet sugar was about 7 cm (or 3 inches) deep in the tin pan that I happened to use. Had I used a longer pan or several smaller paper plates, the sugar cement wouldn’t have been so thick and may have hardened overnight. It doesn’t matter to me if it takes a little longer, though. If I do it again, I’ll probably use exactly the same pan and just leave it in the oven for a full day instead of overnight.
I like this recipe and this method because it’s so easy, anybody can do it and modify it however they like. They can use paper plates, an inner cover, a cookie pan, whatever works for drying the wet sugar, whatever makes the final product easy to slip into the hive. They can add essential oils and pollen supplement and whatever else they feel like feeding their bees. Or none of it. It can be as complicated and messy or as simple and clean as anyone wants it to be.
P.S. #1: Stay tuned for Episode III when I slip these sugar bricks into a few of my hives! That might not be for a few days because we’ve got a big snow storm coming our way.
P.S. #2: Another variant of this no-cook method, one that includes mixing pollen supplement in with the sugar, can be found at Honey Bee Suite. I’m not a big fan of giving my bees pollen supplement throughout the winter because an unnaturally early source of pollen encourages the queen to lay early which easily leads to overpopulated swarmy hives in the spring, or overpopulated hives in the winter which require even more emergency sugar to keep them from starving — and I have no desire to deal with either of those situations if I can help it. I prefer to give my bees pollen in the form of patties only when I think they really need it. If I do a good job at caring for my bees (established colonies, not nucs), they should never need sugar or pollen supplement anyway.