When feeding bees, it is the sugar, not the water that the bees need. By mixing the sugar to water at different ratios, the beekeeper can encourage certain behaviors. Below are sugar syrup recipes from Keith Tignor, State Apiarist, and the actions they stimulate within the hive. Also included are candy recipes and instructions for dry sugar feeding used as emergency winter food when temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
1:2 One Part Sugar to Two Parts Water: Used in the spring to stimulate egg laying. Use only when enough honey is available for feeding the brood:
Stir sugar into warm water until dissolved.
1:1 One Part Sugar to One Part Water: Used in the spring and summer to encourage comb building:
Bring water to a boil and turn off heat. Stir in sugar until dissolved and cool.
2:1 Two Parts Sugar to One Part Water: Used in the fall to increase food stores in preparation for winter:
Bring water to a boil and stir in sugar. Continue stirring over heat until all crystals dissolve. Remove from heat and cool. Each gallon of syrup increases the colony's reserves by about 7 pounds
Recipe and great video on Making Sugar Candy for Winter Feeding by Pete Ostrowski of the Colonial Beekeepers Association:
Dissolve the sugar in the water by stirring and boiling the mixture until the temperature of the syrup rises to 242°F. You must use a candy thermometer while bringing the syrup to 242°F. Let the syrup cool to 18O° F, then beat until thick. Pour the candy into molds lined with wax paper. Place a cake of sugar on two small, 1/2 inch square strips of wood in an empty super above the cluster of bees. Cover the candy and the space around it with cloth or newspaper to keep it warm. Remove any remaining candy and feed syrup when the weather gets warm in March or April.
Another substitute for making fondant is to purchase baker's fondant from a bakery or a grocery store that bakes and sells iced cakes. The white sugar icing that is used on commercially baked cakes is the nearly the same thing as fondant and can be used in the same way. Bakers purchase this white icing in buckets, and you may be able to persuade a local baker or grocer's deli to sell you a bucket. But make sure it's white - not flavored.
Place the feeding rim or empty super directly over the brood frames.
Mist one or two sheets of black & white newspaper with water or sugar syrup.
Place the moistened newspaper over the frames, covering approximately 2/3 of the area and leaving about 1/3 of the top of the frames uncovered. Make sure that the newspaper is inside the feeding rim or super and does not extend outside the hive where it could wick moisture into the colony.
Dump the bag of sugar over the newspaper, misting as you go to clump it and keep it from running off of the paper. Give it a final misting to form a crust.
Place the inner cover over the feeding rim or super and place the telescoping cover back on the hive.
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