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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    750

    Default Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    OK...now I am confused. After searching this forum and posting questions I felt quite comfortable making solid sugar bricks in preparation for winter. I have made about 20 solid candy bricks by combining 5lb sugar with just over a cup of water and heated it to 240-245F without any caramelization. I then poured it in an aluminum cake pan to cool. White, solid 5 lb sugar brick.

    Today I was at a local bee supply and hive care education shop. The owner operator has a Master Beekeeper Certificate displayed on the wall and she states she has been keeping hives locally for 7 years. She runs beekeeping courses, does one on one hive care and inspection, education and extracts honey for folks who don't want to extract their own honey.

    She doesn't feed over the winter. She wraps her hives in tar paper and says good night. I mentioned that I had made up some sugar bricks. She looks horrified and tells me I will kill my bees if I feed it to them over winter! She was going on and on about not boiling sugar syrup...apparently it changes he chemistry of the sugar and kills bees. I must admit I do not boil my 1:1 or 2:1 sugar syrup when I make it up. The sugar bricks I made have no caramelized sugar...just translucent clear syrup that is liquid and hardens when cooled.

    Have I misunderstood several people who kindly shared their tried and true sugar brick recipes (not whipped up like fondant...just poured from the pot)? Is this certified beekeeper instructor two sheets to the wind?

    Clarification would be appreciated...I am reluctant to cook up more until I hear back from folks on this list.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    She's obviously had direct or indirect experience that indicates cooked sugar is a problem for bees. I'd like to hear more to understand her concerns.

    My experience with cooked and uncooked candy has been very positive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    I don't know everything and I have an Associate of Applied Sciences Degree in Commercial Beekeeping from Ohio State University. Neither does someone w/ a Master Beekeepers Certificate.

    Did she explain what is wrong w/ boiling sugar syrup? Michael Bush should be able to tell you. Ask him or wait for him to reply here.

    If you put these sugar bricks on your hives they will not kill your bees.
    Last edited by sqkcrk; 09-21-2013 at 07:18 PM.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,966

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    If you put these sugar bricks on your hives they will not die.
    Are you sure that you wouldn't like to rephrase that?

    Or are sugar bricks the secret to eternal life?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Arbutus, MD USA
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Two sheets to the wind. Or maybe put another way, she's one way-- a bit like Smithe St or Nelson St

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    Are you sure that you wouldn't like to rephrase that?

    Or are sugar bricks the secret to eternal life?
    There, is that better?

    Oh, yeah, be careful you don't over feed them. Some folks think that doing so might make them lazy.
    Last edited by sqkcrk; 09-21-2013 at 07:29 PM.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    440

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Radar - I have some rug rats that might want to agree to sqkcrk that sugar bricks are the secret of eternal life (or at least their short term eternal happiness.).

    sqkcrk - Some folks think that doing so might make them lazy. - -

    don't kick that poor dog again or

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Well, WBVC could have read that Thread herself, I guess.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    750

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Yes...for a while I read the lazy bee thread.
    Currently I have come away with the impression that bee preferences seem to be: honey...be it robbed from hives or taken as offered feed, nectar/pollen from preferred vegetation, sugar products if there is nothing better.
    There is soooo much to learn about the productive husbandry of bees!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Beware the advice of someone with a modest experience history and a piece of paper when they are in the business of selling you bees to replace those that might starve for want of said brick. I value advice from humble old hands that don't have a dog in the hunt.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    867

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    I am pretty sure the bricks are going to do no harm if not caramalized, however it did waste a lot of time and energy when you could have just dumped the 5 pound bag of sugar on top of some newspaper on the top bars and walked away. The condensation from the bees will turn the sugar into a "brick" in farily short order. I subscribe to the MB school of lazt beekeeping.....maybe it is from all the sugar I eat?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    897

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    For a master beekeeper certification to bear any weight, it must be from some sort of verifiable source. If someone claims to have a master beekeeping from the Eastern Apicultural Society, it can be easily researched and verified on their web site. If it is from Fred's beekeeping school it don't mean a hill of bean.

    I do not feed every hive every year. but when necessary they get sugar bricks, or fondant. never killed my bees by eating it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,225

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Caramelized sugar is indeed bad for bees, but just boiling it to make bricks isn't going to do the job, you have to boil all the water out and cook it until it turns brown. I don't think you did that.

    However, I endorse the idea of just mixing a small amount of water in the sugar and letting it sit in a mold -- it will harden up just fine.

    Honey is much better for the bees, second choice is syrup processed by the bees (more water, proper condition to stay liquid, etc), but sugar works just fine either as candy or as syrup poured into comb, or dry.

    I prefer to feed my bees up to weight and leave the hive closed over the winter, it cannot be good for them to have an icy wind howling through the hive when you open it, but if the hive is light going into winter and you cannot feed them, by all means put the candy on.

    Feeding them sugar is MUCH better than letting them starve in January!

    Peter

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Brownsburg, IN
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    From what I jhave read, Mr. Bush puts regular cane sugar sprayed with a bit of water in the hive to feed in the winter, only if necessary. That is how I understood it on his web site.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    750

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    For a master beekeeper certification to bear any weight, it must be from some sort of verifiable source...
    It was from the government...department of agriculture. I agree that hands on experience develops huge knowledge...if one is curious, interested and thinks about cause and effect. Time alone doesn't cut it

    Personally I am quite skeptical..4 hives, 7 years, a certificate and one of 2 hive component/hive management businesses in a very large area. Yet a very pleasant business person.

    I am glad I found this forum.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    750

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    I do have 2 frame feeders but was told by locals...in the bee supply shops...that feeding syrup over winter has 3 significant issues.

    Bees don't take it if weather is less than 50f...and we sit at or under that for several months.
    The liquid feed contributes to humidity and condensation in the hive
    The bees won't move to the frame feeder to access the syrup

    And..they said the container of liquid syrup remains cool so increases bee effort re hive warming.

    Are those points valid or not?

    Our fall and winters are wet, mainly in the 40-50f range days, drops down to freezing over night with a couple of cold weeks below freezing plus snow.

    It seems some in this area wrap hives...some with tar paper, some with rigid foam insulation and tar paper, some with something called pool wrap (I think it is like heavy duty bubble wrap) yet others, including commercial beeks, just lay tarps over the hives being certain to provide upper and lower holes for ventilation.

    Somehow I think the commercial folks would be doing the least to get the most consistent result. After all it is their livelihood not a hobby to fill in down time

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,966

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    If you need to feed when the weather is below 50 degrees F, dry but clumped granulated sugar seems to be the best choice. Michael Bush's feeding page:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,225

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    Vancouver has wet, cold weather that only occasionally dips well below freezing. Ventilation is a major concern, as you often have condensing conditions.

    Feeding liquid over the winter is asking for a wet hive full of mold, I would NOT under any circumstances put a division board feeder in there. Still best to have adequate stores in October -- use a hivetop feeder to get them up to weight if necessary -- and dry sugar or sugar bricks if and ONLY if they do not have adequate stores. The bees will be far more active there than here (southern Indiana) due to the higher winter temps, so they won't have any trouble accessing the sugar if they need it, and you have the added advantage that the sugar will absorb moisture in the hive. The bees will readily eat the syrup that forms on the sugar!

    Make sure you have a completely waterproof top cover and no leaks into the hive. Cold water dripping on the cluster will kill the bees.

    Peter

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Benton, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    208

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    I have fed the sugar bricks for the last couple of years, as insurance. Just to be sure my bees have enough. Sometimes I put some pollen sub in with the batch, before pouring into the molds. I haven't seen any ill effects. Like you said mine is also clear before I put the pollen sub in. While we don't have a whole lot of cold weather here, I like the blocks because there r a lot of days under 50 degrees. What I like best about the blocks, is they are removable. I have not seen many of the pieces fall down into the hive. You want to inspect its not messy to move them. I leave 9 frames of honey on for them to eat in a super and remove one frame and put in a brick just. I haven't tried the pouring sugar in (mountain camp method).

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,318

    Default Re: Feeding candy boards or cooked sugar bricks in winter

    I use sugar bricks - no problems here. I add pollen sub to them as they cool too. I prefer the bricks to candy boards or dry sugar. Dry sugar is a mess to clean in Spring.

    The good thing about feeding them sugar bricks is that the bees have to chew and lick them - thereby making them work and preventing laziness
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

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