These days I use sugar bricks to feed my bees in the winter and here’s a quick 2-minute video that demonstates 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.
I boiled up some hard candy (similar to candy cakes, candy boards, etc.) to provide emergency food for my bees during my first winter of beekeeping, and I hated every minute of it. I’ll never cook up syrup for any reason ever again. I then switched to pouring dry sugar over the top bars (sometimes referred to as the Mountain Camp Method) because it didn’t require mixing of any kind. Just dump dry sugar over newspaper on the top bars and you’re done. While I still think dry sugar works great if it’s done right, I’d probably choose fondant if it was easy to make or cheap to purchase where I live. But it isn’t. So I make sugar cakes — or big bricks of sugar — instead.
I’ve settled on sugar cakes as my winter feeding method for a few reasons…
#1: It’s the cheapest and easiest method available to me.
#2: It’s much easier to slide a sugar cake or brick into the hive when the bees are clustered above the top bars than it is to open the hive and pour sugar in.
#3: The bees are less likely to toss out the sugar when it’s all stuck together in one big piece, though that doesn’t seem to be an issue when it’s cold and the bees are clustering most of the time, or when they have nothing else to eat but sugar.
#4: It works.
Some people mix in essential oils and pollen supplement with their winter feed. Some people don’t add sugar or any kind of winter feed until they notice their bees have run out of honey. I usually add sugar sometime in November once the weather is cold enough to drive the bees down below the top bars, and I don’t add pollen supplement or essential oils to my sugar (not yet), but it’s all a matter of personal choice. My feeling is, as long as the bees don’t starve to death, then good enough.
Music in the video was provided by the incomparable John Dingle.