July 2019 Introduction: I use these sugar bricks to feed my bees in the winter now. The dry sugar (or Mountain Camp) method is too messy for me. Slipping a brick in under the top cover is much quicker and easier.
I use dry sugar poured over newspaper and over the top bars in my hives to feed my bees in the winter, not that they always need sugar to stay alive, but as a precaution, the sugar goes in. Sometimes the bees can’t get enough of that delectable white sugar and will eat through it quickly. That’s when I like to add more sugar, again, just as a precaution. Adding newspaper and more sugar on top can get a little tricky, especially if the bees are crowding over the top bars. If I was smart, I would have poured as much sugar as humanly possible into the hive when I first did it so as to avoid opening the hive later in the winter to add more sugar. But I’m not often that smart and so it goes. Pouring more dry sugar in isn’t a gong show, but slipping in hard bricks of sugar has the potential to be much easier. And because I always practice what I preach, here’s a video of my first attempt at making sugar bricks for my honey bees.
The recipe is simple: Mix 12 cups of dry granulated sugar with 1 cup of water until it’s the consistency of wet sand. Mix in a few drops of essential oils, anise extract, whatever, if that’s your thing, though my guess is it’s not essential. Smack it all down into a tin pan and let it dry overnight in an oven with the light on (or some place dry). The end.
Stay tuned for Part Two when I take the sugar bricks out of the oven and slip them into my bee hives!
P.S. #1: This might not work at all, but we’re going to find out. I’d also like to apologize for the quality of the video. If this works, I’ll do a better video for next year.
P.S. #2: I don’t remember exactly where I first heard about making sugar bricks in this way, but it might have been from Eric at GardenFork. (He uploads all kinds of good D.I.Y. homestead-type videos.) Dry sugar over newspaper, for me, is still the easiest, best method for feeding bees in the winter when it’s done right. But having big bricks of sugar probably makes any top-ups quick and easy too. I hope.
Oh, yes. That will work. I’ve been doing it that way for three years. I have inner covers with a 3/4 inch rim on one side, so I pack the damp sugar in those, let them air dry on the counter overnight, and invert them directly over the hive body.
I like hearing what other beekeepers come up with. Packing the sugar on an inner cover and flipping sounds simple and effective.
I have done the same thing except this time I used Laurie Millers recipe from her Facebook page, Miller Compound HoneyBees and Agriculture.
Her recipe is also on Beesource:
Here is her recipe:
25# cane sugar
one quart cider vinegar
sprinkle of electrolytes
1-2 T citric acid (Found in your canning dept)
splash of pro Health or other scented essential oil of choice
Mix together about 1/3 of the sugar and vinegar at a time in a five gallon bucket with a large drill and paint paddle mixer. If you try to mix it all at once, you will get uneven moisture distribution.
Mixture will feel very soft, but not wet or sticky.
I use a shallow aluminum baking sheet that fits right into my Cabela’s food dehydrator. You can use any size pan you want, but be sure your bricks are no taller than your frame extension under your inner cover.
Here I sprinkled some dry Beepro on the bottom of the pan.Don’t do it, it just gets gummy. Sugar will not stick to the pan after it has dried.
Fill the pan to desired depth with moistened sugar mix:
how cold does it get where you are?
Here’s you go:
Hmmmmmmmmm……..essential oil…..but it’s not essential. Gotta love it. ;-)