Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making Bee Candy for Winter Feeding

Today Mark & I made "bee candy" which is used to feed bees during the winter when the temperatures don't allow for syrup (below freezing) yet the bees don't have the honey reserves needed to make it through until spring.  Pictures on Steven's Bees increased my worry that we needed to do SOMETHING.

I used a recipe found initially on wikibooks, and found it also on WVBeekeeper

Rather than use plain water, I made chamomile tea as Linda advised in making her syrup. I used 2 different thermometers and it seemed to take forever to get the proper temperature (238 degrees F).

Our attempts to beat the mixture didn't seem to work so we poured it up. It hardened quickly and did not resemble fondant in the slightest.  It would have made good peanut brittle!  I'm afraid it may be too hard for the bees to use -- only time (and more research) will tell.
Depending on how this works, I may try a recipe from a blog called Mark's Bees next. He credits Steve from Steve's Apiary for the recipe. We did follow Mark's example of adding a splash of vanilla to attract the bees. 

Many recipes exist online, as well as discussions about adding cream of tartar or vinegar, the use of essential oils, etc. Hopefully before next winter I'll have time to do more research and come up with a preferred recipe and figure out if the final result is supposed to be hard or soft or something in between. 

If anyone has recipes, suggestions, or experiences to share, please comment!

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