View Full Version : Mountain camp feeding Vs. Candy Board
01-04-2012, 01:44 PM
I live in Northwestern Pennsylvania just south of Lake Erie. In the winter time we get a lot of cold wet air that comes from Canada and gets its moisture from Lake Erie. Our normal winter temps are between 0-30 degrees. My question is in this type of climate in the event of emergency feeding would it be better to do the mountain camp method, or make candy boards. I am leaning more towards the mountain method to help soak up the moisture, but I would like other opinions and preferences on the issue.
Buffalo Bee Farm
01-04-2012, 02:11 PM
I dont live near a large lake, but not too far from you in central va...
IMO the moutain camp method is the least preferable methods of feeding for me. I prefer fondant. It can be made easy from marshamallows and powdered sugar if you have a few hives, will soak of moisture, but will not be wasted like granulated sugar and its easier to consume by the bees.
Check out my blog back in Dec 2010 or Jan 2011 i believe for a marshmallow fondant recipe that is easy, safe, and quick compared to making a candy board...
I have now switch to using both commerical fondant in 50lb boxes and or the Dadant winter patties.
01-04-2012, 02:58 PM
I did not see the recipe for the marshmallow and powdered sugar on your blog. Do you have that recipe
01-04-2012, 03:17 PM
the one I use is this:
2 cups of water, bring to a boil and start adding in slowly 5 lbs of sugar, once mixed in get solution up over 200 degrees and it should boil, then add in 1 tbsp vanilla and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, if adding in pollen substitute wait till it cools below 200 degrees, mix it up and pour into paper plates or frame of some sort. I use the plates and then just peal them off once the brick is cooled. then just place the brick on top of the frames and the bees eat it up! Hope that helps.
01-04-2012, 03:18 PM
Why the vanilla?
01-04-2012, 03:37 PM
Marshmallows are made from gelatin which is made from animal parts. I can't imagine that animal skins and bones are good bee feed. The mountain camp method works just fine. Spritz it with water if you think the bees will carry out. For more tips see:
01-04-2012, 03:46 PM
Personally the MC method works great and lets the bees make the candy. By spring the granulated sugar is hard block of candy and can be removed and reused as needed. I have never had an issue with bees carrying it out but I wait until it is pretty cold out (late Nov-Dec) before putting it on. Great use for the left over formic acid rims.
01-04-2012, 04:36 PM
I havn't used the MC method (yet) but have used the "candy disk" method. I don't really see the difference between fondant and candy disks (if anyone would like to explain the difference to me, I'm open ears).
Both work. Both absorb moisture. One involves slightly more preparation (and potentially a slightly more aggravated wife, lol). But for me I went with the disks over MC for clean-up purposes. When spring comes, I can just grab the left over disk and put it in the trash. Granulated sugar on top of a newspaper is slightly harder to clean up though. Spill to much and it may cause some robbing issues later, although clearly not as much as spilling syrup.
01-04-2012, 04:46 PM
Fondant is soft and pliable; candy disks are hard.
01-04-2012, 05:29 PM
All the sugar feeds will work. dry sugar indeed attracts and holds the most moisture. I remember candy boards drooling down on the bees before I learned the importance of top ventilation. Nothing is much easier than pouring sugar on a newspaper on top bars. When it is time to pull frames, the sugar picks up in blocks or chunks and if you add hot water, is now your 1:1 syrup or store it in a trash bag til next winter.
01-04-2012, 05:41 PM
Fondant is soft and pliable; candy disks are hard.
I was referring more to their use, or the benefits that one has over another.
01-04-2012, 06:01 PM
They are almost identical in effect. Hard candy boards or dry sugar both absorb moisture and become palatable to the bees. Would they prefer fondant? Maybe, I've never tried it - but I've used both candy and MC in the past (and right now) and the bees WILL eat it if they need it.
The main advantage of candy is that it goes onto the hives really quick - less time in the bee yard opening hives in January. But if you fold your newspaper to size and pre-wet it before you start, MC is pretty darned fast. Just slap it down (the hive is now covered - and no fighting with the wind) add your sugar - spritz it with water - and you're done.
The main advantage of MC is that you don't have to spend all the time making candy - which is considerable. There is also this - when you do early inspections it is easier to remove and then replace chunks of candy that are left. But either way you can gather up the scraps and make syrup out of them - no big waste. If anyone wants to argue about what is best - we all know what that is - hives full of honey and natural pollen in a perfect world. A world where broccoli tastes like steak fries.
Try both if you have time. If you don't have time to make candy then throw some sugar on there. It all works.
01-04-2012, 07:31 PM
David we had a warm day a few days back in the sixty's , so i popped the top of my hive and poured a hive top feeder that i had left on above a top entrance shim and below a blanket shim full of sugar, was that a waste of time or do you think they will break cluster if they need it . I Apologize if Iam off topic
01-04-2012, 07:54 PM
I have used both.
Candy puts MANY more calories per square-surface-area than plain sugar. This is a no-brainer fact.
However, if you are doing Mountain Camp method you are by definition putting sugar at the top of the hive where upward-moving clusters will find it.
If you go with candy boards you might end up implementing candy FRAMES which- depending on weather- your bees may be able to use, maybe not. They may have to have weather that lets them move sideways to get to it. You also need to think about allowing cluster space, you can't just replace the inner 5 comb frames with candy frames.
After my experiences last winter, I will not in future be making vertical candy frames. If I make candy, I'll make something that can go flat across the top of the cluster. In our region, in my Langstroth hives, it was too cold last winter for the cluster to break and reform, so they just went straight up. In my apiary, dozens of pounds of honey (and laboriously poured candy frame) stores went unused, and the colony died, as they could only go up and I didn't have "flat food" at the top.
In my observation hive (5 frames by 2 wide), candy frames pull in moisture quite well.
I would go with either of candy or plain sugar and whatever you decide, put it across the top of the hive, not vertically in a frame. Filtered through my experience.
01-04-2012, 08:07 PM
Beeginner - They won't break cluster when it is cold to move even 2 inches for food once they start covering brood - like next week maybe. Like too many handles mentioned one of the sweet things about feeding directly on top of the frames is that no matter where the cluster goes once they get to the top they will be in contact with the emergency feed.