Winter Feeding at the Orchard Hive

Winter Feeding at the Orchard Hive

The Orchard Hive has not been storing the syrup that I have been feeding them. The weather is getting colder and it is time to put solid food into the hive for winter feeding. The last time I made solid food for a hive, I just made a brick of it to place in the feeder area. The hive had food, so it was just something extra.

With this colony they have very little food and will need more to get through the winter. They have approximately seven bars of food spread out through the hive. Very little of the nectar or syrup is capped. It would be good for them to have several more bars full of food.

My goal was to try to keep things simple. I made solid candy and planned to hang it in cheesecloth and attach it to some empty bars. The first step was to make the food. The recipe that I used was from Beverly Bees. This was way too much for my one hive, so I cut it into thirds and used five pounds of sugar and one cup of water. Then added some of my essential oil mix to it.

Once it was mixed well, I poured it into a large cookie sheet to create a thin block. After leaving it to dry for more than twenty four hours I then broke it into pieces that would fit on the bars. I put the pieces into some cheesecloth and stapled the cheesecloth to the bars. I packed everything up and headed out to the farm.

At the Orchard Hive I opened it up and made room for the solid food bars. After putting the solid food bars in and watching the bees, I realized that the bars with the cheesecloth didn’t fit well. The bees could not get around the bars, there wasn’t enough space. This was going to be my last chance to open the hive for a while, the cold weather was coming quickly.

After a few minutes of thinking things over, I decided to take the solid food out of the cheesecloth and just make a pile of it in the hive. This was such a mess, but the bees were really enjoying the food already. Since the pieces were a bit large, I had to break them into smaller pieces in order for them to fit. Very carefully I made a pile of the pieces in a way that allowed the bees to be able to fit between.

This was the best solution that I had for the moment. In the future I will use molds to make the candy directly onto the bars. I am hoping to make my own molds, but I know there are companies that sell them if I need them. In the end, the Orchard Hive got about ten pounds of solid sugar pieces. With the food stores that they have, this should be enough as long as they can get to it.

We are going to have some cold weather and the bees will not move around the hive as freely when it is too cold. As long as they are on comb with food they should be okay. On days that are warm enough, they will make their way to the sugar pieces and consume those. Occasionally in January we have warm days, if that happens this time I will plan to put more solid food into the hive if they need it.

Pouring sugar
Need more sugar!
Immersion blender
Freshly poured
Starting to dry
Attaching to bar
Finished bar
Still a little wet
Orchard Hive
Mint and wool
Extra pieces
More pieces
Capped honey
Little visitor
Feeder bars
Wool and mint
Broken pieces
10lbs pile of sugar
Cleaning up