Winter Feeding the Bees


Bee Candy

5 pounds white sugar

1 1/3 cup water

1 tsp. cream of tartar – prevents mold

1 pint WHITE corn syrup


Large / deep stock pot (heavy bottom works best)

Candy thermometer

Cake pan lined with wax paper or prepared candy board

Paint stirrer with strong drill to beat candy

'Tunnel’ spacer for candy board

This candy can be put in a candy board and placed on the hives when they are wrapped or can be made in a cake pan for emergency feeding in the spring.

The candy board is an ‘inner cover’ with deeper sides so that it can hold the candy. Pound a number of large head nails on the ‘inside’ of the candy board to help hold the candy to the board when it is turned upside down on the hive in place of the inner cover.

Set candy board with nails up (center hole down) on a counter. Place the ‘tunnel’ from the center to the exit notch on the short side of the frame.

Feeding in the spring helps the colony recover from winter and encourages the queen to start laying eggs. The earlier the better, but not too early that the syrup freezes or puts too much moisture in the hive from the fluctuating temperatures. The bees will stop taking syrup when there is an adequate supply of spring blossoms out there to satisfy their needs. Here are some recipes. (Hyperlink) There are several methods to feeding your bees. Do some research and find a method that works for you.

Bring to a boil, stir for a while, and keep boiling until it reaches a temperature of 240 degrees (soft ball). Keep thermometer off bottom of kettle. The mixture will be clear and very hot.

Once it reaches 240 degrees, set the kettle in a deep sink in ice water to help cool.

To cool further and speed the ‘set up’ time, beat mixture with a paint mixer using a strong drill. As the candy cools, it will get very thick and eventually turn cloudy. Once it starts to get cloudy, it will ‘set up’ in about two minutes. The beating time is at least 10 minutes. Be patient, it will get cloudy.

Once cloudy and very thick, quickly turn into a cake pan lined with wax paper or onto a prepared candy board.

If you are using a candy board, make sure the tunnel stays in place. It will be removed once the candy starts to set up.

If you use a cake pan and want to have small blocks to feed, score with a knife. Once it has cooled further, it will break on the scored lines – make the scores deep – all the way through. If you want to feed all at once, leave in the cake pan until totally cooled.

Candy can be frozen to use later. If the candy does not set up, it will be sticky and the bees will get stuck to it when they try to eat it. Not good.

DO NOT MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH. Even in a deep kettle, mixing with the paint mixer causes the candy to splash up the sides of the kettle. A double batch will cause candy to splash out all over your work surface and on you – very hot!


Bee Candy board

This recipe is the easiest, yet there is some waste of sugar as the bees eat their way through since the candy as it is not ‘hard’ candy like the two above.


4 to 8 pounds of sugar (or more depending on depth of candy board)

Mister to spray water

Water – very small amount –¼ cup or a little more for small board

Candy board frame

HALF INCH mesh wire stapled to board

Tissue paper

‘tunnel’ made from wood or cardboard

Carrying board a little bigger than candy board

Construct a candy board using a frame of 1 to 2 inches high to match the 8 or 10 frame box. Cut an ‘exit’ in one of the short edges for bees to use as an upper entrance (like on an inner cover). Cut wire mesh so that the edges can be folded inside the frame and stapled to hold in place. Cut the corners to help fold the wire mesh. OR Cut the mesh to fit the edge of the frame. Tape ends so you don’t scratch yourself. Now you have a wire mesh ‘box’ to hold the sugar.

Construct a ‘tunnel’ using a piece of wood or other items to make a tunnel from the center of the candy board to the upper exit on the frame. This ‘tunnel’ can be used by the bees once they have reached the candy board.

Place the candy board on a ‘carrier’ that will hold the mesh flat – do not want it to sag too much and hit the tops of the frames it is set on. A Corelle counter saver works well or a piece of plywood.

Set the candy board with wire mesh down on the carrier. Put two layers of white tissue paper on the inside of the wire mesh and up the sides to hold the sugar from falling through the wire mesh. The paper new foundation is wrapped in works great. Place the ‘tunnel’ from center of board to upper exit.

Sprinkle a little sugar across the tissue paper. Spray lightly with water. Repeat until the candy board is as full as you want. DO NOT use too much mist/water. A little water goes a long way in making the sugar get crusty and hard enough that it will not fall through the tissue paper. The candy board can be carried to a place to set up using the carrier. Remove the ‘tunnel’ spacer.

The candy board is placed on the hive when wrapped in the fall. A ‘peek’ in January will tell you if the bees have reached the top of the hive. In the spring, ‘blocks’ of candy can be placed on the mesh if needed or the entire board can be swapped for a new one.


Sugar Board

1 cup water

4 # sugar (8 cups)

1 tsp. white vinegar

Boil in large kettle to 248 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quickly pour into 9 x 13 cake pan lined with Teflon baking sheet; parchment baking paper or re-use the paper from between the wax foundation carton along with clothes pins to secure. Paper may remain on sugar board. Bees will eat through the paper.

Score quickly to allow breaking.