Here's a video on how to make sugar cakes to feed your bees in winter. Overwintering your honeybees is challenge, here is one way I help the bees overwinter, feeding them sugar cakes with this recipe. You can make these at home. I use foil pans you can buy at the grocery store.
Note: I know use the dry sugar aka Mountain Camp method of providing sugar to honeybees in the winter. Watch our dry sugar Mountain Camp video here.
The sugar cake recipe:
- put 5 pounds of sugar in a large mixing bowl
- add 7.5 ounces of water
- add a teaspoon or two of essential oil mix if you choose
- mix together and then spread out in a 9x13 or similar foil pan
- allow to dry overnight
- take off the inner cover of the hive
- carefully turn the cake upside down onto a thin plastic or wood board
- slide the sugarcake onto the top of the hive, and either put on either a shim or an insulated inner cover, and then the outer cover.
Here are some photos of how to make sugar cakes for bees.
You can add a homemade honeybee essential oil mix to the sugar cake recipe, you can see the essential oil recipe here. Update: I know buy the pre-mixed essential oil mix, its not that expensive and saves time.
To put these cakes on top of your hive, you must use a spacer - shim, or an insulated inner cover.
There are many opinions on how to get your bees through the winter, this is one way we make sure our honeybees have enough food to get through the winter. What I like about sugarcakes is that the cakes absorb moisture in the hive, which reduces or prevents condensation in the hive.
Many beekeeping books say you should open the hives only when it is 45-50F, but I've found if you act quickly, you can pop the top of the hive to slide in sugarcakes when the temperature is in the 30s. Obviously you aren't going to do a hive inspection at 30F, but you have a few seconds to open the inner cover an add sugar above the supers.
Again, I think the dry sugar method is much better now, check it out here.