My recipe/method for sugar blocks - Page 12
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  1. #221
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    My attic is a hot spot thru out most of the year without being use.
    During a sunny day the temp. can exceed 115F. At one time the glass fish thermometer with
    a mercury indicator got cracked in a hot summer when I left it there. Maybe the wifey will not smell
    the vinegar if you dry your stuffs inside. Yeah, the fresh mushrooms will dry in one day there. Maybe to
    make the cakes a few days in advance to try.
    Going to try a few bricks this winter also. Got 20 lbs of the chickpeas very high in protein (22g) fine flour along with the megabee pollen sub.
    BTW, does anyone knows a way to roast or cook the flour before mixing in with the pollen sub? Also, it is o.k. to put the finished quarter inch pollen sub under these
    sugar bricks?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

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  3. #222
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    laketrout: I used the the same vit/electrolyte you reference because that is what I could get. This is my first batch of the bricks so am hoping they are ok. From looking at the ingredient list of both, the Durvet is very similar to the AgriLabs brand that Lauri uses in her recipe, only it has a bit less of some of the vit/electrolytes and it does not have probiotics. Would love to hear if others have used it and how it worked for them. My bees seem to love the bricks.

  4. #223
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I made 15 lbs. of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of organic apple cider vinegar as per someone's reduction in the recipe above and it turned out great. I heated the oven to 150F (turned it to 170F and let it cool a minute), turned it back off, and put them in for a couple hours (in 2 batches). My daughter was complaining about the smell when she came home from school, but I didn't really think it was THAT bad. At least ACV is a health food, it's not like paint fumes.

    Last winter I made sugar blocks with just water, no ACV, and the fronts of the hives were brown streaked. This winter, with only vinegar and not water, I'm hoping it works for them better. Can't wait to get it out there, especially since our polar snap has just arrived. It's time to winter!

  5. #224
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    Spencer, MA, USA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I have Lauri's blocks on 1/2 my nucs and fondant on the others. So far the bees are consuming the sugar blocks at a higher rate. They are also hauling out some sugar crystals. Not enough to worry about but nothing coming out of the fondant hives. I'll continue to report on the differences as they show up

  6. #225
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    The main reason for smell issues is that my wife is 20 weeks pregnant and can smell things our beagle can't (I swear).

  7. #226
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    To finish out my sugar brick experience... two hours at 170 was no where near enough to dehydrate my bricks. It got about 1/3 of one cookie sheet dry, the rest of them were relatively wet and crumbled. One seemed more wet than when I mixed it. So I have four nice pieces and a whole bunch of crumbles. Total they were in the oven at 170 for about 3.5 hours. One is still in it. I only mixed up 2/3 of a batch and I still have 12 ounces of ACV left so it's not like I used too much liquid.

    The chunks will obviously work, especially in my top bars where I don't have to worry about small pieces falling between frames.

  8. #227
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    rooster booster vitelectrolytes.jpgrooster booster vitelectrolytes.jpgI am thinking this may be an alternative to the smaller packets of electrolytes and vitamins??

    Rooster Booster

  9. #228
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    The main reason for smell issues is that my wife is 20 weeks pregnant and can smell things our beagle can't (I swear).
    Ooh! A little bee in the cell!

  10. #229
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Ooh! A little bee in the cell!
    Haha, yes, number two!

  11. #230
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    To finish out my sugar brick experience... two hours at 170 was no where near enough to dehydrate my bricks. It got about 1/3 of one cookie sheet dry, the rest of them were relatively wet and crumbled. One seemed more wet than when I mixed it. So I have four nice pieces and a whole bunch of crumbles. Total they were in the oven at 170 for about 3.5 hours. One is still in it. I only mixed up 2/3 of a batch and I still have 12 ounces of ACV left so it's not like I used too much liquid.

    The chunks will obviously work, especially in my top bars where I don't have to worry about small pieces falling between frames.

  12. #231
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Maybe too much of the HBH? I got a little heavy handed pouring some in the bucket and the blocks didn't dry well. I learned to use just a bit and the blocks are solid and dry quickly. I also use just a little of the vinegar. sugar almost seems dry when you put it in the pan but comes out nice.

  13. #232
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I too tried the sugar blocks method...using my stand mixer to ensure the vinegar was well mixed into the sugar. If your blocks are not drying well, then there was too much liquid to start with. My blocks dried right away in an oven that had been warmed to 200F then turned off when I put the tray of sugar mix in.

    I have to say, I do prefer the cooked sugar brick recipe, where you simmer sugar in some water and vinegar to 136F, beat in a stand mixer until it starts to cloud and go white, adding a splash of HbH and electolytes/vitamins at that point and before pouring the mix into wax paper lined molds. You get a slightly fudgy but reasonably smooth product that is less crumbly than the baked sugar mix, and my suspicion is that the bees feed on it better.

  14. #233
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I think there may be a difference between Lauri's recipe bricks dried in an oven, at higher temps and for a shorter time and those dried in the longer-process of a proper dehydrator. I happen to use a dehydrator and my bricks take at least eight to ten hours to dry and they are rock hard and not crumbly at all when done. Once I was presssed for time to finish new ones and get them in the hive during a short mild temperature window and while they looked done, they wound up being more crumbly and when you looked at them on the side you could still see some color stratification within the brick. I have also learned to not make them too thick, as they seem to dry less well.

    WesternWilson, would you mind posting your cooked sugar brick recipe? I would like to try it as an alternative.

    Enj.

  15. #234
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Happy to! Sorry the spacing does not work out nicely once posted...I used Lauri's ingredients, and adapted a recipe from somewhere online http://www.motherearthnews.com/homes...#axzz3J9Zyicvt

    http://www.ccbee.org/beefeed.htm

    http://www.cornwallhoney.co.uk/beepedia/sugarsyrup.htm

    Note the hot sugar syrup is really dangerous. Be very careful and wear good oven mitts. I like the silicone ones with nice padding.

    Sugar Bricks.........................large batch..................1/2 batch................1/4 batch (or you can try 1 c. liquid to 1 lb. of sugar)

    sugar.....................................25 lb...........................12.5 lb.....................6 lb

    real cider vinegar......................1 quart........................2 cups................... 1 cup

    water......................................3 quarts.......................6 cups....................3 cups

    citric acid.................................2 tablespoons...............4 teaspoons.............2 teaspoons

    vitamin/electrolyte granules (opt)..4 pinches..................2 pinches.................1 pinch

    feeding aid, just a splash ie. honey b healthy or equivalent (optional)
    gob of clean honey (optional)

    Protein based bee feed powder (optional)


    -bring cider vinegar and water to a simmer
    -add sugar, stir constantly till you get it to boil...lower heat once it begins to boil so you don't have it foam up and boil over!
    -simmer till you get to about 235F on your candy thermometer/digital probe (if mixture sets too fudgy and soft, heat up a couple more degrees next time)
    (note: I am lazy so I just bring the mixture to a boil, let it simmer for a couple of minutes and that seems to work pretty well)
    -remove from heat and let cool a bit
    -being VERY CAREFUL, pour syrup into stand mixer and beat with all metal wire whip until syrup starts to get white and cloudy
    -when temp falls to about 90 degrees F, beat in your citric acid and vitamin/electrolyte granules, dissolved in a bit of water or vinegar
    -at this point you can add your flavouring agent ie. HbH or equivalent, and some of your own clean honey...both are optional.
    -pour into wax paper lined molds ie. cake pans, loaf pans, whatever, aim for about 1" thick
    -if you like dust some protein based bee feed powder ie. beepro or home mix for protein patties on top of brick, optional
    -let cool, turn out and put on top of top bars over cluster, protein side up. If you place a screened inner cover over the sugar brick and under the quilt box, you can check easily to see if bees are feeding, on any sunny day.

    NOTE: You can buy winter fondant patties from bee companies and take a pass on the kitchen mess!

  16. #235
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Maybe too much of the HBH? I got a little heavy handed pouring some in the bucket and the blocks didn't dry well. I learned to use just a bit and the blocks are solid and dry quickly. I also use just a little of the vinegar. sugar almost seems dry when you put it in the pan but comes out nice.
    Did not put any HBO or any liquid other than ACV. I am starting to wonder if I shorted the sugar in the second one bucket I mixed. My almost two year old daughter was helping so I was a bit distracted. Two pans were OK the third has been in the oven for over five hours. Still soupy, but did not seem any worse than the others. I am probably going to scrape into bucket and mix in more sugar.

  17. #236
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I made up basic sugar bricks this year...5 kg sugar, 2 cups apple cider vinegar or water ...into aluminum pan 1.5" deep...into dehydrator at 130 degrees...dry like a sugar cube in 23 hours...able to use after 12 hours and likely sooner in a pinch.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  18. #237
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Just to address some comments:

    If you are uncomfortable using pure vinegar for liquid, just substitute some of the vinegar with water. But you may not get the same results I do. I use to make mine with half ACV and water and wanted to see just how far I could push the recipe. When I made them with pure ACV, the bees responded with extra enthusuasm and vigor. I was sold.

    The effectiveness & saftey of vinegar has been discussed in this and other threads. This recipe in the OP just is what I use -and I get excellent results with my overwintering success. I still have never had a single case of dysentery. I still have never treated with fumagillin.

    Some will say this is all just a Placebo effect. But when I place a block on a colony, I see an immediate response & long term effects. I certainly wouldn't take the effort to do something that was a waste of time. I've got plenty of other work to do.

    I settled on this recipe after a couple years of trials. Adding this and that unitl I came up with a recipe I felt had the right amount of nutrients without being too strong. I was more concerned with overdosing the electrolyte mixture than anything. (A package will make 220 gallons of diluted livestock water) By observing the reaction of the colonies during and after they had their brick, I based my recipe on what I felt were positive results.

    This brick IS a concentrated formula. A decent sized brick is equivalent to about 1/2 gallon of 2:1 syrup..without the water. It takes them about 2 months to take it up-unless they had no stores of their own. That is such a slow rate, the concentrated mix appears to be just perfect for a slow release feed source.

    For those that have more experience with plants than bees, think about your slow release fertlizers..if released immediatly they would likely burn the plant or stimulate rapid growth. But when released over a period of 2-3 months, they have just the right strength for nutritional maintenance.

    As far as the smell of the blocks drying:
    I do mine in my greenhouse so the aroma is not an issue because I don't do mine in the house That aroma however, is probably one of the reasons the bees like them so much.

    I have never had a robbing issue with blocks. By late October, my hives are all settled in for winter. Even with sunny daytime flying, there are no summertime/fall behavior like robbing. Most of my blocks are on my smaller colonies, which would be vulnerable to robbing if it was an issue. In my yard with my strain of bees, it is not.

    This set up (below) worked really well this year. An old salvaged stainless unit with a small hot plate.
    Set on low for a couple days, they dried perfectly.



    New pans are made slightly larger than the old pans, so they had to be tipped slightly to get them in. But I let them sit on a flat surface for a couple days to allow liquid to absorb fully into the sugar before placing at an angle.

    I still use my dehydrators, but need more bricks these days.



    I'm not saying anyone has to feed bricks or make them like I do. All I know is how they work for me, they are fast and easy to make, compared to other cooked methods, they are fortified, unlike straight dry sugar winter feeding methods. They need to be made up ahead of time, but are easy to store, handle and quickly slip into hives when weather is bad.

    They are not meant to be a replacement for fall feeding and good management, but if circumstances leave you with a colony that is in need, they work in a pinch.
    Even colonies that are well prepared for winter love them though. Maybe they should be called an 'extended release winter nutritional block' instead of just a sugar block.

    Could this be a placebo effect on the bees? It is a possibility. The size and dosage of the blocks is quite small compared to a larger colonies needs.
    But as most of you know, the attitude of the colony is very important. Attitude can be everything.
    If they have an over wintering 'contentment' or more enthusiasm and are eager to build better come spring, I'm OK with that.

    Perhaps someone with knowlege about bee nutrition could improve on the recipe with additional ingredients.
    Off hand, I can't think of a think I'd change.
    Last edited by Lauri; 11-16-2014 at 09:22 AM.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

  19. #238
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Lauri, I see Mann Lake is having a sale on Bee Pro. But I noticed they also sell Mega Bee, which is substantially more expensive than the Bee Pro. Any thoughts on whether it is worth the premium?

    Regards,
    Janet

  20. #239
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I use Mega Bee patties and the bees have always taken them readily. I got one bottle of Bee Pro. it was the last. bees will not touch it. Can't say why. just that it is.
    Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)

  21. #240
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Sorry Daniel, I meant Ultra Bee...both that and Bee Pro are protein powder mixes you can yourself make into protein patties, as Lauri posted above.

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