My recipe/method for sugar blocks - Page 15
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  1. #281
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    No wonder. The heat is too high there by melting the sugar.
    So what is the ideal temp. setting for drying them then?

    I'm sure a food dehydrator is the most effective method but not everyone has one. So the slow
    continuous heating method will do. Maybe put a 60 watt light bulb in there for a slow heat releasing process time?
    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. #282
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Beepro, I messed up a fondant recipe on the stove by monkeying with the vinegar and water proportions. Dampened sugar dried in the furnace room is fail proof just slow and the sugar cakes are a bit crumbly. Fondant on the stove ie. making a hard fudge, is less forgiving!

  4. #283
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I'm not having any problems with the oven at 170 and the door cracked open , I use to leave the door open when drying venison jerky , I think you get some ventilation going and give the moisture a way out , and it doesn't get to hot .
    Last edited by laketrout; 11-30-2014 at 06:51 AM.

  5. #284
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Then how do we know when the sugar bricks are finished. Do we look at the shiny white
    crystal when they are all harden and no longer have the vinegar smell?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #285
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    For me the top of the bricks dry first , if you flip one over and look on the bottom or look at the edge you can see if there dried all the way through or not .I tried flipping them over to dry the bottom side but they wouldn't fit back in the pan the same way and if there not fully supported they will sag when reheated and eventually break .If the wife has some flat cookie sheets without the lip that she will let me use!! I'm going to try transferring them over to dry the bottom .

  7. #286
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I see what you mean now. It is better to transfer them onto another foil pan to cure on the other side.
    And they will stick together if stack one on top of another on the 2nd cure. Better to put them all flat on the
    tray. Going to improve on this process more. Cannot smell anymore vinegar once they are completely cured.
    Does that mean the sugar got inverted?
    I cut mine into blocks before going into the oven for easy flipping on the 2nd cure. Thanks for the good tips.


    2nd cure some broken off:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  8. #287
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    Then how do we know when the sugar bricks are finished. Do we look at the shiny white
    crystal when they are all harden and no longer have the vinegar smell?
    48 hours sub 150 will do it. The vinegar smell is not going to go away. that is why you add the essential oils like lemon grass or the like to help with the scent for them.

  9. #288
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Anyone working on their next batch yet?

    I'm doing another 15 lbs. sugar/1.5 cups ACV today. Have to time it when fewest people are visiting the house so I don't fume them out.

    I put cakes in the hives in early November, and figured I'd give it 2 months. I wasn't at all happy with the honey stores from the summer and nervous about the syrup stores in the fall. This is great insurance.

    The only issue I'm going to have is getting the cakes into the bottom hives when I have a small hive overwintering on top. I have 2 like that. I'm hoping by the time I add these cakes (probably 3 wks. away, maybe January thaw, we'll see), the top hives will be light enough that it won't be too terribly difficult to raise them up and stick a sugar cake on the top frames of the bottom hive.

    CROSSING FINGERS EVERYONE IS ALIVE AND THRIVING AND WILL SURVIVE UNTIL SPRING!!!

    One hopeful observation is that so far I don't seem to be seeing any quantity of dead bees on the snow. I believe last year it was happening, and made me nervous. Last year I had one hive survive out of two. But I don't think it was a starvation issue because there were still stores in that hive, altho maybe they just couldn't move to where the stores were. With these sugar cakes, I try to cover the top frames (or at least where the bees aren't) to provide access.

  10. #289
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I'm finding that the nucs are consuming the sugar blocks over the fondant about 2:1. I've had to replace the blocks at least once on several strong nucs. Not so with the fondant. Think I like the blocks better. But I'm making them on a regular basis since my dehydrator can only do 8 at a time.

  11. #290
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    No wonder. Have you tasted the sugar/vinegar combo? YUM! (I only licked my fingers - I promise)

  12. #291
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Anyone working on their next batch yet?
    The only issue I'm going to have is getting the cakes into the bottom hives when I have a small hive overwintering on top. I have 2 like that.

    It seems like the temp. at 100-170F will do on a slow cook. Too high a temp. the bricks will turn brown at 250-300F.
    I've heard that cooking vinegar also help with the cold flu too or general house disinfectant.
    To dry the sugar better I put them into a 1 1/4" shallow disposable aluminum party food tray. Very cheap at the local .99cents store. And compact the sugar with a small canning glass jar. I have also made my bee box 1.5" taller for the bricks to fit in. Very good for lower hive bricks/patty feeding on a 2 nuc hives set up. This is good without the extra 2" shim above the hive. If your nuc hive is short then feeding them under another hive need to add an extra shim all around so the bricks will fit in better. Maybe you can make the bricks thinner to fit inside the hive but have to add more. Either that or add whole sugar frame like this thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by windfall View Post
    I have built a number of "frames" which run 1 1/2" the whole way around, but have the conventional ears to hang in hive. Then covered the open faces in 1/2" hardware cloth.
    Laying flat, you can pack these with sugar dampened with a bit of hot 2:1 and they will dry hard in a day or two.
    I have found them useful for filling out a hive that might not have completely filled up on winter stores, should November come and a hive has a couple frames that didn't get drawn out you just swap it out for the sugar frame (at the edges is where I left them)
    It worked pretty well. Sometimes they would haul parts out as trash.
    It was most useful my first few years, when I had fewer resources to insure hives were packed out come winter. If I had had the drawn comb I would have put it in those hives earlier and fed them up.
    I'm sure it's been done lots of times before....
    On a hive check today, the bees are eating them nicely. So I added the remaining bricks into another nuc hive. Going to cook another batch soon as I have some time before they used up the first batch. They are eating the bricks fast as they are brooding up too. I don't see them eating the capped honey or open nectar. So far so good. And have high hope that they will overwinter fine. The queens still laying now and have nice frames in smaller batches of capped broods now. The well fed young winter bees are much fatter than the Fall bees too.

    I have also licked the finished brick just for the taste of it. I just wanted to know if they are sour or sweet after drying. Anyone like to tell me what their bricks
    taste like?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  13. #292
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    dups
    Last edited by beepro; 12-05-2014 at 03:50 AM.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  14. #293
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I have to confess to not really using the whole recipe.

    I put a quart of vinegar into a 5 gallon bucket and gradually stirred in 12# of sugar. It wasn't easy. When the mixture seemed to be well mixed it was poured into some 2 for $1 trays from family dollar and cut into quarters. There were a total of 14 segments.

    They were placed on the dining room table and were ready to use in about 3 days. They actually stayed there until thanksgiving when my wife threatened the trash can. The bees got a shot at them Monday and they are munching away like kids in a candy store.

  15. #294
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    That sounds like you doubled the amount of vinegar , Lauri's recipe called for one qt. vinegar to 25 pds. sugar , I'm surprised you were able to get it to dry .
    Last edited by laketrout; 12-05-2014 at 05:10 PM.

  16. #295
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by laketrout View Post
    That sounds like you doubled the amount of vinegar , Lauri's recipe called for one qt. vinsgar to 25 pds. sugar , I'm surprised you were able to get it to dry .
    I am sorry for the error. I put 1 pint of vinegar. I was thinking of the whole recipe when I made the post.

  17. #296
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    They were placed on the dining room table and were ready to use in about 3 days. They actually stayed there until thanksgiving when my wife threatened the trash can.
    Beekeeping should be part of marriage licenses, with both parties understanding that it is not only a major investment of money, but of space. Who among us has not turned a spare bedroom into a storage area for supers, frames, equipment, and vinegar aroma sugar cakes?

    LOL.

    (Or at least for us garage, basement and attic deprived households)

  18. #297
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I broke it down to 3 lbs sugar, 1 tsp. of citric acid, and a pinch of electrolytes. Stir in 4 oz. of AC vinegar that's been mixed with a splash of HBH. It stirs up easy in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and I can mix up several in just a few minutes, get it in the oven with very little mess and the wife is sort of okay with it. 😁
    170 deg. with the door propped open for an hour at a clip seems to work well. I find letting it cool and then going for another hour keeps it from starting to melt. I'm still searching for the best process though. I'm trying the same process in the little toaster/convection oven that has a dehydrate setting. 90 mins with the door closed started to melt in the middle so the door needs to be open a bit.
    My first batch wasn't as dry as I would have liked but the weather was in my favor so I gave it to them. 4 strong hives polished them off in less than a week!!! Maybe because they were soft... That's what I'm thinking.

  19. #298
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyBeeGood View Post
    I'm still searching for the best process though.

    I only use ACV for the sugar mix. I too use the aluminum dollar
    store shallow baking trays.
    My recipe is 1 cup ACV mixed in approx. 5.5 lbs of sugar.
    Put 4 lbs of sugar inside a gallon plastic bag then pour the entire cup of ACV in to mix.
    Put in more dry sugar to make a right clumping consistency. Not too wet but not to loose after the squeeze. If the sugar
    is too loose after squeezing then it is too dry. If the sugar is too wet after the squeeze then it needs more dry sugar to get
    the right consistency. It is just like squeezing a clump of compost not too much water coming out during the squeeze and not too loose afterward.
    So you want a batch that will wet all the sugar with the vinegar.

    Then pour the sugar out into a curing shallow 1 1/4" aluminum tray.
    Next use a small glass jar to roll and pack the sugar in. Then use a knife to divide the sugar into smaller bricks by cutting into the center horizontally and then 2 more vertical cut. This should give you 6 bricks total.
    Put this sugar tray into the CENTER of the oven at 150F for about 2 hours and then flip the bricks over to dry further. If the sugar is not yet cure enough then wait longer before flipping them. The dry bricks should have a shiny glare on the sugar. The more you dry the bricks the more moisture they can absorb inside the hive. So curing over time is very important in this process.

    Tips: I would use an electric mixer to speed up this process the next time.
    Put more dry sugar on top of the bricks before putting the tray into the oven to avoid browning when the temp is too high. Put a cookie sheet on top will help to avoid the browning of the bricks also. Double the aluminum trays and you will have 12 bricks.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  20. #299
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    My way is a little simpler. 5 lbs. sugar to 3/4 cup ACV (I usually make a 15 lb. sugar batch at a time), mix in large bowl with wooden spoon, put your hands in to finish mixing, lick your fingers (yum), spoon into shallow baking pans or even regular baking pans, I'm not going to buy pans for this, but USE PARCHMENT PAPER TO LINE THE PAN. That makes it so much easier to lift them out. I roll them flat and solid with a glass jar too because those are what I have on hand and make good rolling pins. The pans I use are the size that the whole sheet will fit right on top of the super. No cutting necessary!

    Then I heat the oven to the lowest temperature, which happens to be 170F, slide the pans in there, set the timer for 2 hours, put them on the counter to cool, and voila. You're done. When it's time to put into the hives, use the parchment paper to pull that sugar brick right out of the pan. Sometimes it cracks, but I doubt the bees care if there are 2 pieces instead of one.

  21. #300
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    In that case I would use an electric drill mixer to speed up the mixing process.
    Other than that everything is the same. Anything else to further improve?
    Good tips on using the paper. I'll put in the wax baking cookie sheet for that.
    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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