Fondant any better then sugar bricks?
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  1. #1
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    Default Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Trying a lot of new things this year hoping to better my wintering rates. Always have made my own sugar bricks. Has anyone found that fondant like MannLake sells increase winter numbers? Looks like its about 5 times as expensive.
    Terrence

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    My over-wintering figures are as good as it gets. Wish I could say the same about queen-mating - that's the huge fly in my particular ointment.

    I put over-wintering success down to not engaging in crystal-ball gazing with regard to winter stores - as it's pretty pointless (imo) trying to predict winter feed consumption when we have such unpredictable winters - so I physically check on stores during the last inspection of the season (and take action if necessary), then rely upon inverted jars of Baker's Fondant to indicate the status of each hive's stores level. Think of these as being similar to an automobile's 'fuel gauge'. The jars usually go on during the last week of January, and are then physically checked weekly - takes just a few seconds per hive.

    This is what I'm looking for:



    At the end of winter any unused fondant is either recycled or fed to nucs.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Fondant would not be better per se, but if it is what you have access to it works. It has a higher moisture content and therefore is easier for the bees to eat. However this isn't necessarily what you want for over wintering. Proper sugarbricks will absorb excess hive moisture making the outer layer easy for the bees to eat, but not the whole thing at once. Sugarbricks work more like a slow release fondant.

    So either will work, it all depends on your price point, and availability. Generally though, i think bricks would be a better over winter feed, and fondant better for later winter/early spring buildup.

    It has been noted that bees may pull crystals of honey from the hive, so if you put candy bricks on too early in the fall or late in the spring, they may just pull the crytals of sugar and dispose of them out the front door. This isn't an issue during over winter. Just a reason why fondant is better suited during the warmer fly months.


    Aaron

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    My over-wintering figures are as good as it gets. Wish I could say the same about queen-mating - that's the huge fly in my particular ointment.

    I put over-wintering success down to not engaging in crystal-ball gazing with regard to winter stores - as it's pretty pointless (imo) trying to predict winter feed consumption when we have such unpredictable winters - so I physically check on stores during the last inspection of the season (and take action if necessary), then rely upon inverted jars of Baker's Fondant to indicate the status of each hive's stores level. Think of these as being similar to an automobile's 'fuel gauge'. The jars usually go on during the last week of January, and are then physically checked weekly - takes just a few seconds per hive.

    This is what I'm looking for:



    At the end of winter any unused fondant is either recycled or fed to nucs.
    LJ
    Interesting setup. I know our winters are vastly different. Mine start about now this year. Snow already just north of me and about freezing temps at night and 40s daily. It ends about March. I do check on the hives after a storm or on an expected flying day as much as possible to look at the feed and add any if necessary. This question was more on fondant vs sugar bricks and if fondant has the high price just for the convenience of it.
    Terrence

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroZomBEE View Post
    Fondant would not be better per se, but if it is what you have access to it works. It has a higher moisture content and therefore is easier for the bees to eat. However this isn't necessarily what you want for over wintering. Proper sugarbricks will absorb excess hive moisture making the outer layer easy for the bees to eat, but not the whole thing at once. Sugarbricks work more like a slow release fondant.

    So either will work, it all depends on your price point, and availability. Generally though, i think bricks would be a better over winter feed, and fondant better for later winter/early spring buildup.

    It has been noted that bees may pull crystals of honey from the hive, so if you put candy bricks on too early in the fall or late in the spring, they may just pull the crytals of sugar and dispose of them out the front door. This isn't an issue during over winter. Just a reason why fondant is better suited during the warmer fly months.


    Aaron
    good point on the moisture. i use my sugar bricks as a gauge of hive venting. if they are soft and mushy its probably got a blocked entrance or such.
    Terrence

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    ML likes to put essential oils most of their products, LGO is at the top of the list to cause diseases to be faster and worse when fed to honey bees. Also every EO that was tested decreased the bees longevity.

    Not something you want to feed winter bees.

    If you purchased fondant without any additives I am sure it would be every bit as good as sugar blocks.

    Either way it is meant to be emergency food for when they run out at the top of the hive. I don't think it will help increase brood rearing. But it will keep them fed.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Do you have citations / data sources that show the results of using essential oils you are referring to?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Convenience is the main factor both with fondant and with commercial winter patty.

    (Though I agree with FP, I prefer no additives. The commercial winter patty that's available to me (Dadant) has HBH in it, which I prefer not use. This year I am resolved to make the time to make my own bricks.)

    As true emergency feed, any of the above is vastly superior to risking starvation. But if you're putting them on for the "just-in-case" reason, then I'd go with simpler, homemade sugar bricks. Save the money and skip the EOs in commercial products.

    I don't put mine on early though. I like to get my the broodless period OA treatment done, first. (Sometime around late December for me.) I do install the feeding rim/upper entrance shim well in advance so that the box-to-shim joint can get well propolized. Above that, the shim-to-quilt-box joint gets a strip of self-sticking foam weatherstripping to seal the slight unevenness of the stapled edge of of the QB fabric. I am always tardy in getting my quilt boxes asssembled and installed.

    Nancy

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    ML likes to put essential oils most of their products, LGO is at the top of the list to cause diseases to be faster and worse when fed to honey bees. Also every EO that was tested decreased the bees longevity.

    Not something you want to feed winter bees.

    If you purchased fondant without any additives I am sure it would be every bit as good as sugar blocks.

    Either way it is meant to be emergency food for when they run out at the top of the hive. I don't think it will help increase brood rearing. But it will keep them fed.
    I've seen several hives over the last 2 years that starved even though capped natural honey was two frames away. They just moved up and if i had sugar on they might have made it. So for the cheap money i put them on all hives.
    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Convenience is the main factor both with fondant and with commercial winter patty.

    (Though I agree with FP, I prefer no additives. The commercial winter patty that's available to me (Dadant) has HBH in it, which I prefer not use. This year I am resolved to make the time to make my own bricks.)

    As true emergency feed, any of the above is vastly superior to risking starvation. But if you're putting them on for the "just-in-case" reason, then I'd go with simpler, homemade sugar bricks. Save the money and skip the EOs in commercial products.

    I don't put mine on early though. I like to get my the broodless period OA treatment done, first. (Sometime around late December for me.) I do install the feeding rim/upper entrance shim well in advance so that the box-to-shim joint can get well propolized. Above that, the shim-to-quilt-box joint gets a strip of self-sticking foam weatherstripping to seal the slight unevenness of the stapled edge of of the QB fabric. I am always tardy in getting my quilt boxes asssembled and installed.

    Nancy
    I hiked in 100 pounds of sugar one year through deep early snow. uh uh not anymore. i'll put them on early around end of November or before the first predicted heavy snow that will bar vehicle access. i staple my fabric up to the sides of the quilt box about 2 inches so i have nice smooth bottoms. I also ratchet strap it all together so it compresses any slight gaps. Lost a few hives last year when the top and brick on it flew off and the girls froze. I try and modify and improve with every teaching moment.
    Terrence

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    "Do you have citations / data sources that show the results of using essential oils you are referring to?"

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...45#post1546145

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    "Do you have citations / data sources that show the results of using essential oils you are referring to?"

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...45#post1546145
    Been interested in this discussion. I did not read all the papers that were eventually cited; however, a quick scan of the references you provide on EO appear to relate to their use to treat mites and not as additive to sugar bricks or fondant.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    I use fondant as an insurance policy. It would be a simple thing to use BOTH - sugar bricks over a fondant board!!! I hadn't thought of that one before.

    The ultimate cold climate setup would be to build a straw bale structure with a roof over the bees, no queen excluder during freezing weather, a honey box above the brood boxes, a fondant board with 2 to 4 inches of expanded polystyrene foam insulation with a hole through it, a 1/2 inch vynyl tube to ensure positive upper hive ventilation, a quilt box above that. Place 4 hives touching on a pallet, wrap them with roofing paper, and make sure the vynyl tubes are sticking out at the bottom.

    I' add a pollen substitute patty between the brood boxes (in the middle of the cluster) before I set them up for Winter like above.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    I use fondant as an insurance policy. It would be a simple thing to use BOTH - sugar bricks over a fondant board!!! I hadn't thought of that one before.

    The ultimate cold climate setup would be to build a straw bale structure with a roof over the bees, no queen excluder during freezing weather, a honey box above the brood boxes, a fondant board with 2 to 4 inches of expanded polystyrene foam insulation with a hole through it, a 1/2 inch vynyl tube to ensure positive upper hive ventilation, a quilt box above that. Place 4 hives touching on a pallet, wrap them with roofing paper, and make sure the vynyl tubes are sticking out at the bottom.

    I' add a pollen substitute patty between the brood boxes (in the middle of the cluster) before I set them up for Winter like above.
    do they eat the pollen sub or store it? might do that as well.
    Terrence

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Hopefully, they'll eat it right up to shutdown, when they just cluster until it gets warmer. Different strains / mutts may handle it differently. Down here in California, Italian honeybee queens tend to lay eggs whenever fed - I doubt they'll do that up in New Hampshire when it gets cold. If there is any brood, the pollen band surrounding it will look better if fed.

    Sugar is different - the liquid MUST be stopped before it freezes - feed the bricks when the mercury drops near freezing, the closer to the cluster, the better, especially directly above the middle of the cluster. This is why I prefer the fondant board, and if it has a hole in the middle, sugar can be placed right above that. This gives them a lot of good extra chance to be able to reach food and return to the cluster during all but the coldest spells.

  16. #15
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    Default

    Both are a waste of time. Feed syrup or better yet leave them with enough honey.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    Both are a waste of time. Feed syrup or better yet leave them with enough honey.
    To say it's a waste of time is BS.
    You may not prefer it, as I don't, but it's not a waste of time.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    I would rather "waste my time" feeding the bees instead of spending the same amount of time cleaning up deadouts. A 2# sugar brick costs less than $1 and I might feed two per hive between Christmas and mid Feb. After that, they get 1:1 and high protien brood builder patties.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    The cost of insurance is only considered a waste until it's needed. At that point the price paid is insignificant compared to the benefits of it's coverage.
    To everything there is a season....

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    burns375's statement is true, if a beekeeper uses a hive with sufficient storage space and feeds enough syrup at the proper time, the effort used making fondant or sugar bricks is a waste of time because they should not be needed. Also, when compared to syrup they both are an inefficient way of feeding sugar because the bees must furnish the water, already in the syrup, to use the sugar in the bricks or fondant. When feeding for winter, beekeepers should feed the maximum required for their areas, not the minimum just to get the bees through winter. It is the cold, wet, late spring weather that we should plan for.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Fondant any better then sugar bricks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    The cost of insurance is only considered a waste until it's needed. At that point the price paid is insignificant compared to the benefits of it's coverage.
    I top up in the fall and feed sugar blocks and often have a few surplus honey frames in the spring. The surplus honey frames are very useful in the spring for early brood rearing, moving to colonies that are light and for using in NUCs.

    I believe the sugar blocks also can serve as a bridge, so that cluster rarely gets stranded when food was available inches away.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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