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Feeding Candy (Fondant)
to Honey Bees

Beekeepers rarely make candy these days as it is a time consuming process. The use of bakers fondant, that is readily available in conveniently sized 12.5kg blocks from catering suppliers, is much easier to use and more cost effective. It can be cut into slabs with a cheese wire and put into plastic bags or wrapped in cling-film. Slashing with a knife will give the bees adequate access.

The button on the top left will show you how Peter Edwards does all his autumn feeding with fondant. Peter is a commercial beekeeper and finds it much less bother than feeding syrup.

For those who wish to make candy I have left Dave Cushman's original text below.   R.P.

E.B. Wedmore described the making of candy in great detail. I have paraphrased his words and metricated his quantities.

For every kilo of white granulated sugar (sucrose) add 300 ml of boiling water and stir vigorously until all crystals have completely dissolved, then boil the liquid, again stirring continuously, until a temperature of 117° C is reached (when measured 25 mm below the liquid surface using a sugar thermometer). Allow to cool, without stirring, to 45° C and then re-commence stirring until the liquid appears milky, ladle or pour into suitable containers.

Wedmore also mentions the possible addition of cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate), vinegar or fruit acids (lemon or orange) to partially invert the sucrose by breaking it down into fructose and glucose. Whilst this gives a softer, more creamy texture, the bees accept it less readily and the potassium content in the cream of tartar is now considered detrimental.

The aluminium foil containers that are used for "take away" meals make ideal containers for candy.

These "bricks" of candy are utilised by placing face down over the feed hole of a crown board with the rim of the foil container acting as a rim of one bee space.

In Wedmore's time it was common to cast the fondant in moulds and the resulting blocks were placed in a wooden lattice frame of the same external dimensions as a brood frame, this special frame was placed on the fringes of the nest.

Timing of candy feeding is usually during late winter or early spring when feeding liquid syrup or honey would stimulate the bees to raise brood more early than it was deemed prudent.

I personally, stopped using candy for such early feeding about 1993 and now use liquid feed delivered in frame feeders.

Dave Cushman.


Candy for mininucs

Using candy in mating nucs... The use of liquid feed in small polystyrene (or wooden) types of mating nuc has the disadvantage of slopping about when the boxes are handled, but by far the biggest reason that I do not use syrup or honey in these small devices is the likelihood of bees drowning and contaminating the feed.

To prepare candy for this purpose I use plastic ice cream containers as a mould and pour the cooling liquid candy so that a slab with depth of about 33 mm will be left when the candy has solidified. The slab is trimmed to size so that it will sit within the space that one mating frame would occupy. This large piece is used 'as is' in the rearmost position in the hive. The squarish shaped bars of candy that result from the trimming of the slab are used by placing haphazardly in the polystyrene feeder buckets that are part of the normal mating hive kit. You need to get the consistency of the candy solid enough to avoid slumping (as I found out the first time I tried it!), this may appear hard to human touch, but the bees cope OK with it.

Dave Cushman.