Dry Sugar With a Hole In It

July 2019 Introduction: I don’t add dry sugar to my hives like this anymore. I use sugar bricks instead. However, I’d probably follow this method if I couldn’t use sugar bricks.

I’ve been feeding my bees in the winter for a while now by pouring dry sugar on newspaper over the top bars. Some people refer to this style of feeding as the Mountain Camp Method. I like it because it’s the quickest and easiest method for feeding bees in my particular winter climate.

2 kg of dry sugar over the top bars.

Bees eating dry sugar via the Mountain Camp Method.

Although I’ve never had any problems with it, there is some room for improvement. Some people only put newspaper over the back two-thirds of the top bars so that the front is left open for better airflow. That’s an excellent tweak to the method and it works. There’s no urgent need to change it. However, in my experience, the cluster usually breaks through the top bars in the middle and spreads out from there. Most of the moisture — or humid air from the bees’ respiration — flows up from the middle as well. My little tweak is to create a hole in the middle of the sugar for better ventilation and to give the bees easier access to the sugar.

Dry sugar over newspaper with a hole in the middle. (Dec. 12, 2015.)

Dry sugar over newspaper with a hole in the middle. These bees have about 40kg of honey stores. The sugar is a precaution. (Dec. 12, 2015.)

I would have used newspaper that covered more of the top bars on the sides, but I only had small pages from a local arts and culture newspaper on hand at the time. I usually add twice as much sugar or as much as I can pour into the hive over a wider area of newspaper so I don’t have to add more later in the winter. In any case, the hole in the middle of the sugar is also a great spot to drop a pollen patty for colonies that are low on brood.

Dry sugar over newspaper with a hole in the middle and a pollen patty in the hole. (Dec. 12, 2015.)

Dry sugar over newspaper with a hole in the middle and a pollen patty in the hole. I normally wouldn’t give pollen (food for baby bees) until late February or March, if I feed pollen at all, but this colony is weak and might not make it through the winter without a boost in brood. (Dec. 12, 2015.)

The newspaper usually gets soggy within days and the sugar hardens fairly soon after that. If for any reason the sugar doesn’t harden up, I’ll give it a good hit of mist, just enough water to seep in and stiffen up the sugar. I don’t worry about the extra moisture because I use moisture quilts on my hives and they keep my hives dry no matter how much moisture gets inside.

I’m not saying this tweak to dry sugar feeding is a ground shaking breakthrough in beekeeping, but it’s not bad. I’ll post a video as soon as I can and I think I’ll call it the Mud Songs Method. Why not?

5 thoughts on “Dry Sugar With a Hole In It

    • I did that to see if anyone would notice. I’m just goofing around. The URL will always be mudsongs.org, but from time to time I might change the title of the blog to something with a little more pizzaz just to confuse everyone (and by “everyone,” I mean the three people who read this blog). Whatever I may change it to in the future, I can promise it won’t contain any beekeeping puns or wordplay around the word “bee,” or have anything to do with beekeeping. I’m thinking The Toothpaste Giants From Ohio has a discombobulating ring to it. That being said, Mud Songs is here to stay and nothing I say should be taken seriously. And I haven’t been drinking.

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