I put about 4 pounds of candy cakes in each of my hives on January 28th. Then a half-pound pollen patty on February 18th (with an extra candy cake in Hive #2). It went up to 5°C in the backyard today, blinding sun, no wind — the usual ripe conditions for adding candy cakes and pollen patties. So that’s what I did.
Exhibit A: Hive #1 after I smoked it and pried open the insulated inner cover. You can see they’ve been chowing down well on the 2-week-old pollen patty (half a pound) and the 1-month-old candy cakes (about a pound each).
Exhibit B: Hive #2 after I packed in another pollen patty and as many pieces of candy that would fit in. I thought smoking the bees would drive them down into the hive so I wouldn’t have to risk squishing them between the cakes and the inner cover when I put the cover down. The last time I added pollen patties, easily twice as many bees were clustering on top. The smoke probably drove half of them down this time, but the other half seemed to hang tight to the inner cover. They could have been clustering onto the queen up there for all I know. If that’s the case, I’d rather not have to do this again. Here’s the whole thing in video form:
NOTE: You might want to mute the audio on the video. I had to replace with it with some junk music because it contained obscure copyrighted music.
I wore my veil, but it wasn’t necessary. Maybe the smoke kept the bees out of my face. With any luck, the temperatures will go high enough later this month to allow me to add a feeder with sugar syrup to keep the bees going until the dandelions bloom.
December 2018 Postscript: I’ve deleted most of the candy cake posts, including the ones that show how I made them. Even though they’re convenient to put in the hives and the bees consume them well, anything that requires the heating of sugar isn’t the healthiest for honey bees, so I don’t promote it.