As we get closer to winter and the weather starts getting cooler, it’s time to start thinking about switching from liquid feed to solid feed for your honeybees. Liquid feed shouldn’t be fed to bees when the nighttime temperatures get below 50° F. When it gets this cold, bees aren’t able to condense the liquid in order to eat it. Using fondant is an excellent way to feed your bees during the winter. Not only do they really like it because the smaller crystals are easier for bees to digest, but it is also easy to make using the recipe below.
Large Stainless Steel Pot
Parchment Paper Lined Cookie Sheets (2 or 3)
10 lbs. of White Sugar
1 Quart of Water
1 Teaspoon of White Vinegar
Stand-up Mixed or Hand Mixer
Combine water, sugar and vinegar in a large stainless steel pot. Place on stove top set to medium-high heat.
Heat until the mixture starts to boil and reaches a temperature of 235° F. Be sure to stir the mixture constantly as it heats to prevent caramelization. Boil at this temperature for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool to 180° F. To speed up the cooling process, you can place the pot in the sink filled with cold water. Stir the mixture every few minutes as it cools.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl being extra careful as the mixture is still very hot.
Mix with a stand-up mix or hand mixer set on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes opaque white and thick.
Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheets so that the mixture is approximately ¼ to ½ inch thick.
Cool completely and then cut into 3” wide strips. Re-wrap the strips in parchment paper, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
When you use fondant as winter feed, it is important to make sure there is a space for the feed in between the frames and the cover. For this reason, we recommend to use an inner cover and telescoping top which provides the additional space. Place two strips of fondant on the top bars of your brood box. The natural moisture in the hive will allow for the bees to feed on the fondant efficiently. Check in your hive every few weeks to see how much the bees have eaten and add more strips of fondant as needed.
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