As it is getting colder I am told that my 6th child, “Queenie and the Jets” needs special attention. Specifically sugar. I know, my kids are saying; you let us pick our 5 favorite candies after Halloween and toss the rest, but your bees get all the sugar they want!!!? How is that fair?
In answer; there is the teeth thing, bees don’t have them. Really cuts down on the dental visits. Just buck up and face it, that 10lb bag of sugar in the pantry, NOT FOR YOU! Put the sugar down and back away and no one will get hurt.
So today I am making a sugar treat for my girls. Let me point out here that I would not be having to do this if I were a more patient human being. Let me just re-cap for you. I took a strong hive “Blondie and the Girls” Langstroth hive, and split it into, what turned out to be a small weak hive-“Queenie and the Jets”, Top bar hive. I did this heroic deed in the Fall, maybe not the best time to split. Blondie is good. They don’t get a sugar treat because they stored enough honey to make it through most of the Winter(might need a little help in early Spring) However Queenie is a whole different story. “Queenie and the Jets” is totally reliant on, you guessed it, me! So I had better get my big girl pants on, as I like to say, and figure this out.
I searched the net for different recipes for “candy boards” as they are typically called. Everything was so complicated! One recipe was using a bag of 5lb sugar, well I happened to have 10 lbs of sugar. Another added water with a scale of 7.5 oz, I wish I had a tiny food scale, but sadly I don’t. I just have to say here, that if things are complicated on my homestead they don’t get done! I am quite sure that my 6th child just needed to be fed and soon!
So having said that, I took some sugar, maybe 5 lbs. I added some water, maybe 3/4 cup. I added a drop of Lemon Grass Essential oil to attract the bees to the sugar cake, mixed it all together and I was done! If exact measurements are important to you then I am sorry. You might want to seek information elsewhere. The tricky thing for me was to cut the cake to the right measurement to fit in the bottom of my Top Bar hive. I measured the bottom of my hive and cut the sugar cake so that I would have many cakes to scoot down into the hive all through the Winter.
In the afternoon it was a balmy 70 degrees here in Dallas Texas, so I took my window and opened the hive to slip in this goodie. I was happy to see everything going well with a few frames of stored honey. Go girls!
This is a great sign because I have heard that when bees are clumped up trying to stay warm they can starve when food “candy board” is just a few inches away! Before you Northerners get too jealous, 4 hours later it was 20 degrees, wind chill making it seem even lower. Wow! What a drop in temperature! I wonder how my animals deal with this quick change! Me, I don’t do Winter so well. I was sweating in my garden in the morning and then freezing waiting for the rail going downtown that night.
I say freezing, but in reality a friend had given me a really warm coat, my mother-in-law had given me gloves and my sister had knitted me a scarf, so I felt all wrapped up in the warm arms of friends and family that night traveling downtown. I am loved!
Please share your experience feeding your bees this Winter. I would say hats of to you Northerners, but it is to dang cold to take my hat off! It occurred to me this week, that if I lived up north, I wouldn’t have animals like I do. However, I realize I would just learn to manage them differently. Hopefully that would not involve having them in my house!
Hope the Winter on your homestead is going well. Happy Winter gardening, bee keeping and rabbit/chicken raising! Let me just say in ending; Brrrrrr!!!!!!