Today was the first dry day in a month or more here in Oregon. A beautiful, cold, frosty & sunny late December day. It was our first opportunity to apply candy boards to the beehives since settling the bees in for winter back in October.
We use Candy Boards as an emergency food source for the overwintering honey bees. Not as a main source of nutrition but just in case they run out of the honey stores that we left on their hives in the Fall. With the unpredictable seasonal weather we have been experiencing in the past few years, where honey bees may consume their honey stores more quickly, it is an insurance policy against starvation before the nectar flow begins in Spring. Sometimes they bees consume very little of the candy board before Spring, other times they may eat most of it. As an example- in the Spring of 2015 the weather here warmed & stayed warm in March bringing the bees out and about into a world without any nectar available. The candy boards were their food source until the blooms began.
Building a candy board is relatively simple. Check the photos below to follow the process.
We constructed a wood frame out of scrap 1 X 2 lumber set on edge. Cut these pieces to the dimensions to fit your hive boxes. Once the frame was built we covered one side with 1/2” hardware cloth to hold the sugar candy. The 1/2” squares allow the bees easy access to the candy while supporting it above the frames of the top hive box. Cut the hardware cloth 2” greater in height & width of your frame. To form a shallow box to fit inside the frame cut a 1” square (4 boxes) from each corner of the hardware cloth. Then bend 1” (2 boxes wide) of each of the 4 sides up at a 90 degree angle to form a box. Place the hardware cloth inside of the frame so it is even with the bottom edge. Secure in place. Done…
Making Sugar Candy- a simple no cook recipe. This recipe makes 1 candy board.
7 1/2 #’s of White Cane Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1/2 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Mineral Salt (I use loose cattle minerals)
1/2 Tablespoon Honey-B-Healthy or Pro Health
Place the sugar in a large pot or bowl.
To the water add the vinegar and optional ingredients, if using.
Add the water mixture to the dry sugar & stir to combine.
Mix well. (I use my hands, it is easier)
Place the candy board, hardware cloth side down, on plastic, on a firm surface.
Place a can/glass or other object at one edge to form an access hole for the bees to the top side of the candy.
Scoop the sugar mixture onto the hardware cloth. Spread out evenly & Press down firmly. Remove the can/glass to open up the access hole.
Let air dry 24 – 48 hours to form a hard, dry candy slab.
Place in your hive on top of the top hive box so the bees can access the candy.
Replace your inner cover or quilt and then the hive top or roof.
Wishing you the thrill of overwintering healthy vibrant bee colonies!