When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?
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  1. #1
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    Default When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Is there a general consensus on when in the fall to add the fondant/dry sugar feed?

    Is it better to add it later in the fall/early winter, or is it equally as effective adding it now, in Mid October?

    My general concern is that the bees will find the feed, and move up in the hive, and leave all the honey in the lower boxes behind for the winter.

    Thank you.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    2nd year- The underlying question to me is- did I feed adequately to get them to winter weight? If the answer is yes then many would claim that you really don't need to add fondant. The best feed is the feed properly stored n the comb. In my case I fed 4-5 gallons of 2:1 per colony and equalized the stores amongst the hives.

    To your question though- I'm a 2nd year and will likely be doing a few unnecessary things until I get my feet under me. Plus, some of things is just- well playing with the bees. Nothing wrong with that. I have been putting pollen patties on for the last two months and they are consuming them well (necessary). Tail end of August and September is my big 2:1 feed month plus some ProSweet for specific situations (necessary). When I took off liquid feed I put dry Bakers sugar and winter patties in my feeder screen on my vivaldi board. On top of that is burlap. It's really fun to peel back the burlap and see them eating their food (unnecessary but fun).

    So my MC- bakers sugar and winter patties are on now. More for entertainment value. The real critical time is if stores are low is in the spring or if a colony just needs more help. That's when starvation is more likely to happen. I also have a few deep frames of honey set aside for emergencies.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Not sure if there is a general consensus, but I like to wait until after the first hard frost and when foraging activity is very light due to ambient temperatures. I'll add a feeder rim ahead of time so the bees can seal off the seams a little while they are still active. If you add the sugar too early when there is still flying weather you might find the bees carrying out the sugar granules on warm days, housecleaning activity.

    If the bees are still flying and the hive is light they should be fed syrup as long as possible, then add the dry sugar or blocks when they are confined to the hive.
    To everything there is a season....

  5. #4
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    I put my Mountain Camp in when I insulate the hives. I did all that on Saturday. We have had temps down to the teens a few times already, and are in the 30s and below each night now. The days are nice though, and they are still flying, though no indication of them throwing the sugar out yet.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    I wait until flight days are all but over. If you add it too early bees will treat it like trash and haul it out on good flight days. I like to wait until predicted highs are in the 40s or so. Here in Montana that's often late Oct, first of November.
    5 Production colonies, 1 side by side 5 frame nuc for support- 7 working queens is all I want.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    Not sure if there is a general consensus, but I like to wait until after the first hard frost and when foraging activity is very light due to ambient temperatures. I'll add a feeder rim ahead of time so the bees can seal off the seams a little while they are still active. If you add the sugar too early when there is still flying weather you might find the bees carrying out the sugar granules on warm days, housecleaning activity.
    I agree with Mike.....too early and it gets carried out.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    I always clump it up by spraying some water on it. Otherwise it gets hauled out for trash.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Mostly for my convenience, I wait to put on MC sugar until the bees are firmly clustered. A morning in teens or single digits. That way, No bees fly up and get in the dry sugar. when I lay my newspaper and pin it down with a 2 1/2" feeder rim, I wet it very liberally before pouring on the ten pound bag of sugar. This keeps the sugar from cascading down thru the frames when the bees chew thru the paper.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Quote Originally Posted by username00101 View Post
    Is there a general consensus on when in the fall to add the fondant/dry sugar feed?
    I only use fondant, which is supplied in inverted jars placed above the Crown Board (Inner Cover) and accessed via feeder holes. These are usually put in place during the first week of February, although if the Winter has been warm (which does sometime happen), then in early January.

    I've found that installing the jars much earlier can result in the fondant drying-out and becoming hard.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    I only use fondant, which is supplied in inverted jars placed above the Crown Board (Inner Cover) and accessed via feeder holes. These are usually put in place during the first week of February, although if the Winter has been warm (which does sometime happen), then in early January.

    I've found that installing the jars much earlier can result in the fondant drying-out and becoming hard.
    LJ
    What sort of jar do you use?

  12. #11
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Perhaps I should explain that I endeavour to ensure that all colonies have sufficient feed in their combs (which is where they want it, after all) before Winter sets in, and jars of fondant are supplied principally to function as 'fuel gauges' - as I've discovered that they'll only consume fondant when most of their stores are exhausted.

    So - these are the jars I use for feeding:



    On the left is a standard inverted syrup feeder - I do have jars some 50% larger, but tend to prefer using this size: from 1 to 4 at a time, as required.

    Next to this is an example of a feeder for damp-set sugar. But I'm now none too keen on using crystallised sugar - more on this shortly.

    2nd from the right is a half-size jar (takes the same lids as those on the left), which I use for feeding syrup to nucs.

    Finally, on the right is a ramekin, used for supplying fondant, which is the smallest 'free' glass container I've yet to find.


    So - if anyone's interested in this malarkey - I fill the ramekins with fondant some time around December, and seal the jars with the thin-film plastic which comes with sliced bread, which is held in place with a thick rubber band. Fondant can be stored like this for months on end.



    When it comes time to install the jars, I simply make a couple of slits in the plastic, and smear a dab of honey on it to give the girls a clue. Then, it's just inspect each jar once a week, until I see something like this:



    This normally only happens towards the end of exceptionally warm winters, but is a warning sign that the colony has nearly run out of stores. From then on, I would be checking that hive's fondant jar every 3 days. Whether to then give substantial amounts of feed or not depends a lot on the calendar, and how soon the first flow can be expected. In the following example, the first flow was only around a week away, and so I just added a couple more fondant jars, which proved to be adequate:



    I'll bore the forum rigid regarding my sugar trials in the next post ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  13. #12
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    This is one of countless trials I conducted with damp-set sugar:



    But as you can see on the left, the bees consume the sugar next to the jar wall, leaving a central core of sugar which soon becomes unsupportable - and woe betide any bees beneath it when it decides to fall. But I found the biggest problem was always that of the bees dumping sugar crystals, rather than consuming them:



    I even tried cooking-up concentrated mixtures of saturated sugar solutions which duly re-crystallised upon cooling:



    But perhaps the most promising was the formation of a rubbery gel which resulted after adding Citric Acid at an early stage of the process:





    But - without knowing how much HMF had been created during cooking, I decided that using this stuff was far too risky and decided to stay with Baker's Fondant instead. At the time, UK prices for bulk sugar were rock bottom, and so I ordered a quarter of a ton of the stuff, which I'm still using.

    Enough ...

    Jeez - all the guy asked me was "what kind of jars do you use ..."

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Nice, LJ!


    Best I can do is this:
    20181216_132759.jpg

    Well, the darn bugs like my dry, recycled sugar so much, they prefer it over syrup:
    20170416_125514_Small.jpg
    20170416_125430_Small.jpg

    Well, ok, it as just a cold spring day in April (typical around here).
    If not for the dry stuff, the small cluster bees can starve (no matter how much syrup or honey there is).
    They are trying to raise brood in the cold.
    Honey is there and available too, but much of it is too cold on the nearby frames.

    PS:
    the bees pictured here are my first ever swarm I got in late August and they wintered on 100% sugar syrup and dry sugar clumps;
    guess they were able to gather some pollen on their own over the fall months.

    I figure sugar works (when in a pinch) - at the time I had nothing else to offer them.
    Last edited by GregV; 10-16-2019 at 09:26 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    February. I live in the Rocky Mountains. That means there will be a day in February that is blazing warm, sunny and beautiful. The timing varies, but the day always happens. The bees will be flying and cleansing. The next day we will have a freeze-butt blizzard. You can safely bet your honey on that too. On that blazing warm day I'll check the hives. Any that need food get sugar bricks at that time. In March we will have more 70 degree swings. So I'll check again. Repeat in April. In May I'm running the AC at least one day a week, sometimes two, the heater the rest of the week, flowers are in bloom, but 5 of 7 days are too cold for the bees to get out much. Finally in June the famous beautiful Utah spring will arrive for its one glorious week. A week later we go straight to 100. So I keep an eye on the calendar and watch the forecast closely for chances to make sure they still have food, because the long roller coaster ride is what starves bees here, not the winter.
    Zone 6B

  16. #15
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    Default Re: When do you add fondant/mountain camp sugar?

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    I only use fondant, which is supplied in inverted jars placed above the Crown Board (Inner Cover) and accessed via feeder holes. These are usually put in place during the first week of February, although if the Winter has been warm (which does sometime happen), then in early January.

    I've found that installing the jars much earlier can result in the fondant drying-out and becoming hard.
    LJ
    Ho! I like that idea.
    Zone 6B

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