ARE YOUR BEES HUNGRY?
I was asked by a fellow beekeeper today “ Do you sell fondant ?”. I couldn’t believe it. Why buy feed when you can make your own? Why would I sell people fondant when I offer courses instructing people how to make it and undertake more advanced beekeeping skills along improving your basics that you ought to have.
When should you feed your bees?
How much should you feed them?
How do you know when to stop feeding them?
All of these are good questions to ask yourself.
Bee’s need food and drink , when there is a dearth of forage, we supply them with syrup or fondant, bees also need water, but availability of water in UK winters should not be a problem.
Bee’s need to drink water for these reasons:
To keep the hive cool and To control the humidity:
To make use of stored food: Bees need water to dilute stored honey that has crystallized because they can’t use the food in this form. Without water therefore, they can't access these food sources
To feed the larvae: Nurse bees who feed the developing larvae eat large amounts of pollen and nectar but also drink water. This is so that their hypopharyngeal glands produce the royal jelly that is used to feed the larvae.
To aid digestion: Bees use water to cool the hive using evaporative cooling; they spread water around the hive, mainly over sealed brood and around the rims of cells with larvae or eggs and then vigorously fan their wings, evaporating the water and in turn cooling the inside of the hive.
YOU OWN TWO HIVES
If you have two hives over the winter you can calculate that by supplying each full brood box with 1 kg of fondant per month the bee’s will never starve.
You should start feeding them in November and finish fondant feeding in March.
So to make a fondant yourself follow these instructions and save your self time, effort and money. During these cold dark nights it can be something for your to do yourself
For 2 hives and a 3 month supply of fondant you will need
You will need
1 X Large saucepan
1 X Hand or electric Mixer
1 X Cooking thermometer
A pestel and mortar for grinding down vitamin tablets
Any shallow disposable setting receptical or old clean pan
6 kg of sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Water ( A litre )
4 parts granulated sugar to 1 part water 1
A Teaspoon White vinegar
ADDITIONAL Option but advised
Magnesium from a chemist £ 1.99
Yeast Powder or Vitamin B from chemist
ADD WATER SPARINGLY SO NOT TO MAKE THE MIXTURE TOO THIN
• Pour sugar, water and vinegar into saucepan and bring to the boil stirring constantly. • Cover and gently boil up for about 5 minutes.
• Remove lid and check temperature with cooking thermometer, continue to boil with lid off until temperature reaches 234F.
• Remove from heat and cool to 200F.
• Whip with mixer (preferably electric) until mixture begins to turn white and creamy with air bubbles.
Pour into a shallow setting pan or leave to cool undisturbed.
An hour later , when cool Pour fondant into freezer bags
Grind down magnesium tablets, vitamin B into a total of 6 tablespoon quantity
Mix into the completed fondant before its set
Place bags in Freezer.
Two days later, take out of freezer as required and cut a whole in the top of bag and place on your queen divider or dividing board.
To feed bees, place inverted freezer bag containing fondant on top of frames. Place an empty super on top and insulate with newspaper, bubble wrap, or any old suitable clothing material under the roof , in a space super
Please remember if you intend to store your fondant- keep it in a suitably cool and dry place ( outside in a shed out of sunshine, or in a pantry, ideal temperature, 5-8 degree Cel )
As a final note. Make sure that you have a water source nearby.This could be a naturally occurring one like a stream or pond, or it could be a bowl with stones in that you put out yourself. This water should be clean and close to the hive so that, especially in winter when it