Finally Adding Sugar Cakes

    The following was updated on December 1st, 2016, and will likely be updated again within a week.

I usually add just-in-case sugar above the top bars in my hives around early November. By that time — in my local climate — it’s usually so cold that the bees move to the bottom of the hive beneath their honey stores (and then gradually eat their way towards the top of the hive throughout the winter), which makes it easy for me to put the sugar in without bothering them. But that didn’t happen so much this year because November has been unusually warm. Only in the past few days have I noticed the bees, at least in some of the hives, clustering below the top bars. So I decided to add some sugar bricks today…

About 700 grams (or 1.5 pounds) of a sugar cake added to this hive today. (Nov. 30, 2016.)

About 1.3 kg (or 3 pounds) of a sugar cake added to this hive today. (Nov. 30, 2016.) I’ll probably add more later when I find the time. These bees were breaking through the top bars were so cold, it was easy to slide the sugar in without bothering too much.

I followed my Sugar Bricks Recipe (12 parts sugar mixed with 1 part water) and made bricks that weighed between 1 and 3 pounds (0.5 – 1.3 kg).

This sugar cake is directly above a small cluster that's still well below the top bars. (Nov. 30, 2016.)

This sugar cake is directly above a small cluster that’s still well below the top bars. (Nov. 30, 2016.)

The bees that were clustering well above the top bars will get some sugar when I have my veil with me.

A cluster attached to the under side of an inner cover. I'll slide a sugar cake in some other time, hopefully after the cluster has moved below the top bars. (Nov. 30, 2016.)

A cluster attached to the under side of an inner cover. I’ll slide a sugar cake in some other time, hopefully after the cluster has moved below the top bars. (Nov. 30, 2016.)

UPDATE (the next day): Here’s an update from one of the hives that got some sugar yesterday:

Bees crawling all over a sugar brick within less than a day. Are they eating it or discarding it? (Dec. 01, 2016.)

Bees crawling all over a sugar brick within less than a day. Are they eating it or discarding it? (Dec. 01, 2016.)

I have no doubt that when the bees out of honey, they will eat the sugar. But if the bees already have enough honey in their hive (and I think they do), are they more likely to discard the sugar like they would with any debris? Does a higher temperature inside the hive compel them to discard the sugar (assuming they have enough honey)? I’ll check for discarded sugar at the bottom of the hive over the next week and add another update then.