In the wintertime, bees rely on the honey that they have made and stored in order to survive the cold weather. During the coldest months, bees cluster together in a ball to keep warm. They generate heat by vibrating their bodies, and this activity is very energy consuming. That’s why it’s so important that the bees have something to eat in the wintertime.
Unfortunately, because winter temperatures have been warming over the last several decades, bees may also be more active outdoors in wintertime. Added activity means that they need even more food during winter. You can supplement their stored honey by making candy boards for them.
In this article, we share information about the use of candy boards and simple instructions to prepare a candy board that does not require cooking. We also include a video that demonstrates how to use the cooking method to prepare a candy board. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Make A No-Cook Candy Board In 4 Simple Steps
1. Build a frame
To make a candy board, you must first prepare a foundation. You do this by building a frame that is about 2 inches tall and enclosing one side of the frame with half-inch wire mesh to support the candy.
All you need to build a frame is some scrap wood and a piece of wire mesh that will fit the frame that you build. The dimensions of the frame should allow it to fit perfectly into the top of your bee hive.
You’ll also need to drill a 5/8 inch hole in the side of the frame that faces the hive entrance to allow the bees free access.
You will only have to build this once (or once every few years). At the end of the season, when the frame is empty or nearly empty, you can simply remove it from the hive, clean it and use it again.
2. Make some candy
Once you have your frame built, stir up a simple mixture of sugar and water to create a candy board for your bees.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large bucket, pot or tote
- A sturdy stirring implement
- 16 cups of plain, white sugar
- 3 cups of warm water
Stir the water and sugar together in your large container. You may want to add a tablespoonful of white vinegar to help prevent mold from developing.
You may also wish to hide a pollen patty inside the candy board for the bees to enjoy later in the season after they have consumed quite a bit of the sugar.
This candy board making method is extremely simple, but it may take a bit of strength and energy. When you mix up your sugar and water it should have a stiff consistency. It should not be runny. If the mixture is too liquid, you’ll need to add more sugar.
3. Mold your candy board
Once you’ve mixed up your sugar and water, set your frame on top of some waxed paper or newspaper to prevent having the mixture become stuck on the surface you’re using.
Next, place a block of wood, such as a section of 2 x 4, over the 5/8 inch hole you have drilled in the side of the frame. This will keep the entryway from becoming blocked by sugar and will leave an opening for the bees to come and go.
Pile the soaked sugar into the frame around the block of wood. Pack it in, and then smooth it down using your mixing tool, a ruler, a paint stirring stick or similar utensil.
If you want to include a pollen patty in the sugar mixture, when you have filled the frame halfway with sugar, just push the pollen patty into the center of the sugar mixture and continue filling.
This will preserve the pollen until the bees really need it late in the wintertime. You needn’t worry about the pollen going bad because the cold weather and the sugar should preserve it until the bees reach it.
Once you have filled and leveled the sugar into the frame, you just need to wait. Within twenty-four hours, you should have a solid block of sugar for your bees to enjoy.
How To Make Sugar Boards For Honey Bees
When Should I Install The Candy Board?
Remember not to give the bees the candy board too early in the season. If they are still active, they will gobble up the candy board too quickly and won’t have it when they really need. Instead, wait until the weather is consistently cold to place the candy board in the top of the hive.
To do this, you must remove the hive’s inner cover and replace it with the candy board. The screen side of the frame should be down, and the 5/8 inch hole should line up with the hive entrance.
Put the outer cover over the candy board. Check on this frequently during the cold weather, and if you find that the bees have eaten a significant amount of the candy, you may wish to add sugar bricks to supplement it.
No-Cook Sugar Bricks For Honey Bees
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Candy Board?
Using a candy board for your bees is an excellent idea because it provides them with many benefits. When the bees use up their stores of honey, they will begin eating the candy. This can keep them alive through the winter.
In addition to providing extra nourishment for your bees, a candy board can help prevent condensed moisture inside the hive. Remember that the bees stay warm by generating heat. When this warm air hits the cold air coming from outside, condensation results. If too much moisture builds up inside the hive, it can kill your bees.
When you include a candy board, it absorbs the moisture. Additionally, condensed moisture will evaporate out through the hole that passes through the candy board to the hive entrance.