Feeding Honey Bees In The Winter With No-Cook Sugar Bricks

These days I use sugar bricks to feed my bees in the winter and here’s a quick 2-minute video that demonstrates how I do it.

This is a condensed version of a 4-part video series (not unlike the original Star Wars trilogy) that I posted last winter.
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A Soft Grand Reopening

I’ve been rewriting, deleting or updating everything I’ve ever posted to this blog since 2010 — and it’s been fun. I would have loved to have found a beekeeping blog like this when I started out. Where did I ever find the time to make all these videos and write about the practical aspects of beekeeping in Newfoundland in such detail? It’s a fabulous resource I’ve inadvertently created. I know I am patting myself on the back here, but I am learning so much now by just going back and re-reading all of my old posts — I’m really enjoying the ride. This is good stuff.

During the first few years of this blog, this place was cooking. I had a regular flow of readers with some fairly well-known beekeepers such as Rusty Burlew (from Honey Bee Suite) and Michael Bush getting in on the discussions in the comments. It was informative, it was fun, and it was kind of adventurous. Those were the halcyon days for beekeeping blogs.

The enlightening aspect of my revisiting everything I wrote is all the rewriting that’s happening. Some of the posts are completely rewritten, all new content, while others have me chiming in with updates here and there, like I’m having a conversation with my younger self. It’s a whole new ballgame. It casts a new light on everything. Pick your metaphor — but it’s working. It feels like I’m writing an entirely new blog from a different perspective, even though technically nothing new is showing up in the feed or wherever people get updates about this blog. So…
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Beekeeping With a “Flir One for Android”

This post was originally written in December 2016, but has been completely revised and simplified for December 2018.

I’ve been fooling around with a Flir One For Android thermal imaging device for about two years, going into my third winter now. It’s kind of neat, but it’s not an essential tool for backyard beekeepers, certainly not for beekeepers on a budget. Whenever I use it on a cold winter’s days, it usually dies in about 5 minutes, even when it’s fully charged. So whatever photos or videos I take with it, I have to move quick.

An example of using the Flir One in the dark:

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Finally Adding Sugar Cakes

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).
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Tips on Using 6mm / Quarter-Inch Mesh

It was 18°C / 64°F today and the bees in all of my hives — even with shrew-proofing 6mm / quarter-inch mesh covering all the entrances — were out in full force.

Quarter-inch mesh covering all the entrances. The mesh slows them down, but doesn't prevent them from getting out or inside the hive. (Nov. 17, 2016.)

Quarter-inch mesh covering all the entrances. The mesh slows them down but doesn’t prevent them from getting out or inside the hive. (Nov. 17, 2016.)

I’ve heard arguments that the bees can’t get through quarter-inch mesh. But that’s not true. If it was, my bees would have been locked inside their hives behind the mesh all last winter. The bees in the above photograph wouldn’t be flying around today.
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