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Every fall I use sugar water to feed my hives. Since Fondant (mixture of water and sugar) is the same, can I replace the sugar water with fondant as it would be less messy? I use hive top feeders and instead of pouring in the liquid, I could simply use the fondant. Or is fondant supposed to be used after the liquid feeding as a winter supplement?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Like Slow Drone says, they don't treat them the same. They won't draw comb and store and cap the fondant. They just eat it when they are hungry. SO it's not exactly the same thing. Can you winter them on fondant? Sure. Does it have the same effect? Well it will keep them from starving, but it won't stimulate them to raise brood or build comb. Sometimes you have a fall dearth and you need to stimulate them to raise that last round of brood. For that you'll need liquid food.
 

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Ideally as a hobbyist you will have the hive collect what it needs for winter and any extra (surplus) is what you harvest. My goal is to get a hive supplied for winter and spring in the fall so I don't have to worry about emergency feeding of fondant in late February/March. This doesn't mean I don't check the bees then and feed fondant if necessary but my goal is to make a late winter feeding unnecessary.

For hives that need to store additional "honey" in the fall I find feeding them heavy syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water) quickly is key. I use inverted 1 gallon paint cans over the inner cover as my feeders (Thanks Mike Palmer!) If I have a colony that is very light but for whatever reason I want to try to get through winter it is not unusual for me to feed 4 or 5 gallons at one time.
 
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