In late winter, when you have a warm day, say 44-50 F, its a great opportunity to quickly check your honeybees and beehive. In this beekeeping 101 video, we show how we open the hive and place some fondant and a grease patty in the hive to get the bees through the last bit of winter. Links to more of our beekeeping videos at end of this post.
Note: Since making this video, we have changed our methods and are no longer using the styrofoam outer covers or fondant, but its still a good video on caring for your bees in winter. Watch our dry sugar feeding videos here.
Your honeybees may or may not have enough food stores to make it thru this last part of winter, but I am of the mind that it pays to put in some fondant. Other beekeepers will have differing opinions on this and many other practices related to beekeeping. It is too cold to feed your honeybees sugar syrup in late winter, feed them fondant.
We have produced this series of Beginning Beekeeping Videos to document our first years of beekeeping to show people how fun it really is and to demystify it, and to spread the word on raising honey bees. We are not beekeeping experts, we are still learning. Tell us your experiences below and we can all learn more.
Bee fondant and Grease Patty recipes are based on information from Cass of WVBeekeeper's Blog and the BeeSource forums . A big thank you to Cass for his writings.
Fondant from WVBeekeeper:
Fondant Bee Candy
Fondant bee candy can be fed directly to the bees once cooled. Fondant is a good food source for mini-mating nucs because there is no drowning involved when you have a small amount of bees. It is also common to use this recipe in small quantities to plug the hole on a Queen Cage.
> 4 parts (by volume) white sugar
> 4 parts (by volume) 2:1 Syrup or HFCS
> 3 parts (by volume) water
Boil water and slowly add the syrup and sugar until dissolved. Continue heating until the mixture reaches 238°F (114°C). Without mixing allow the solution to cool until it is slightly warm to the touch. Then begin to mix and aerate the solution. As you do this the color should lighten. Pour into shallow dishes or mold and save for later use. I prefer to make the fondant thin enough to where I can work it into an empty frame of drawn comb.
I made my own based on reading thru the Bee Source forums and WVBeekeepers blog.
2 cups vegetable shortening - NOT butter or other flavored shortening
4 cups white sugar
10 drops of food grade pepperment oil or wintergreen oil
¼ cup mineral block - this is a mineralize salt lick you can get at a farm - ag supply store. break off a chunk with a hammer.
mix this together and form into 4" wide patties, they have to be thin enough to be placed between hive supers.
you can wrap these patties in wax paper , put in a freezer back and freeze for future use.