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Cooking for Bees

Here are a few simple recipes to keep your bees happy and healthy with homemade nutritional supplements.
  • Bee Candy

    Although liquid syrup is generally fed to bees, you can also feed cane sugar as candy, especially in temperate areas with harsh winters. The recipes generally use table sugar and water. 

    1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium to large pot. Turn off the heat and pour in a 5-pound sack of sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. 

    2. Turn on the heat, bring to a boil, and continue heating until the mixture reaches the hard-ball candy stage at 260 to 270°F. A candy thermometer is a must. The boiling process may take 30 to 40 minutes. 

    3. When it has reached the hard-ball stage (a teaspoonful turns into a ball when dropped into room temperature tap water), pour the mixture on sheets of wax paper on a flat, hard surface. If working on a finished surface, insulate it with plenty of newspaper under the wax paper, so it doesn't get damaged. Raise the edges of the wax paper with frame bars or similar-sized sticks to keep the candy from running off. 

    4. When set, the candy will be hard, some-what brittle, and a light amber. Pieces may then be laid on top of the inner cover or directly on top of the hive frames. The closer to the cluster, the better it will be consumed. 

    Alternatively, the hot mixture can be poured into a spare inner cover, rim up, where the candy will set. This board can then be inverted over the nest. Bees use the water that evaporates off the cluster to help them consume the candy. 

    Date Published: March 7, 2018
    Date Updated: August 14, 2018
  • Making Sugar Syrup

    As temperatures drop, bees are less able to evaporate excess water. In fall and winter, thicker, more concentrated solutions are used more often than in late spring and summer. In general: 

    • To install packages and/or to stimulate the brood or comb production: One-to-two ratio (by weight or volume); one-third sugar to two-thirds water; about 1.5 pounds of sugar per gallon of water. 
    • Spring or summer feeding to sustain colonies low on food or administer medication: One-to-one ratio (by weight); one half sugar to one half water; about 3 pounds of sugar per gallon of water. 
    • Fall feeding for colonies low on stores or to administer medication: Two-to-one ratio (by weight); two-thirds sugar to one-third water; about 5 pounds of sugar per gallon of water. 

    Use only crystallized "pure cane" sugar. 

    Date Published: March 7, 2018
    Date Updated: August 14, 2018
  • Photo courtesy of snapguide

    Pollen Patties

    Pollen substitute or supplement is usually fed in patties. 

    • Mix 1 part dry mix (1:3 pollen/expeller-processed soybean flour) and 2 parts heavy syrup (3:1 sugar/water).
    • Add sugar to water and stir until dissolved.
    • Add dry ingredients.
    • Mix thoroughly and separate into 1.5-pound patties. 
    Date Published: March 7, 2018
    Date Updated: August 14, 2018
  • Photo courtesy of rollabeeclub

    Soy-Sugar Patties

    Another type of patty consists of 1 part soybean flour and 2 parts heavy sugar syrup, or 1 part dry mix (4 parts soybean flour:1 part brewer's yeast) and 2 parts heavy sugar syrup. 

    A 10 percent natural pollen mix can be added to any of the above recipes to make a supplement. (Beekeepers should be aware, however, that feeding pollen from a diseased colony can transmit diseases.)

    Date Published: March 7, 2018
    Date Updated: August 14, 2018
  • Tips for Supplements

    If using soybean flour, it must be less than 7 percent fat. Because of this, typical recipes call for "expeller-processed" flour, not solvent-extracted flour, which might inject impurities. Other materials have been used besides soy flour, including brewer's yeast, torula yeast, Wheast, canola flour, linseed flour, and sunflower flour. Still other ingredients have included baker's yeast, vitamin and mineral supplements, fish meal, peanut flour, and powdered egg yolk. 

    A yeast-based pollen supplement consists of 3 parts brewer's yeast and 1 part natural pollen added to 2 parts heavy sugar syrup (6 parts sugar:1 part water). There are also a number of commercially prepared protein patties sold on the market. A new liquid-based diet is expected to be available in the near future. 

    Take a quantity of dry pollen supplement or commercially available substitute and mix it with enough sugar syrup to make a dough. Form this into thin patties, place them between wax paper sheets, and lay them on the frame tops. On top of the brood frames usually works well, but don't place them in such a way as to break up the brood nest. 

    Pollen patties dry out in the hive. The amount of sugar syrup used in mixing is a balance between making the dough stiff enough to hold shape, but damp enough to remain usable. They can become rock hard. Remove and replace those that stiffen up. Smaller ones fed more often are helpful in controlling this problem. Be sure that pollen patties are placed in full contact with the cluster, because bees will not consume sub placed outside it. 

    The feeding of pollen sub during periods of low pollen is one of the most useful management tools for the beekeeper. It can rejuvinate a colony!

    Date Published: March 7, 2018
    Date Updated: August 14, 2018

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