Helping bees to survive deep winter can be challenging in areas where it turns bitterly cold. Beekeepers often don’t see their bees for many days at a time in winter, and sometimes for a lot longer. Nonetheless, beekeepers do look out for their bees. Apart from staying warm, the other big concern is that they don’t starve to death.
Please do not use any GMO ingredients in foods you make for bees. They give us the royal treatment with luxurious honey, how can we give them cheap GMO corn syrup in return?
Check each hive to ensure there is sufficient food in the brood boxes. If bees are low on food, make some bee fondant for them, using (ONLY non-GMO) white cane sugar, water, a touch of vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Here is a very basic recipe you can try out:
1 cup of water
4 cups of non-GMO white cane sugar
½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon of Real Salt
Bring this mixture to a boil in a saucepan and stir constantly, then cover and boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Don’t let the mixture exceed 235°F or it will caramelize and harm the bees. Remove from heat and let cool to 200°F so it thickens, then whip it with a whisk until it looks white. Pour it onto wax paper, with a non-fluff dish towel beneath it to harden. Let it cool, then keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer. It will be the size of a 9” dinner plate and about half an inch in thickness. When ready to use, remove the wax paper and position it over the brood chamber so bees can eat it.
In this unrelated 4:09-minute video by Our Old Farm House please note they use a different amount of ingredients to the recipe above, and they give the option of adding any of nine essential oils to your bee candy because they help combat tracheal mites in honeybees.
The recommended essential oils are: spearmint, garlic, cinnamon, neem, eucalyptus, wintergreen, rosemary, sage and oregano. If you are interested in adding the oils, you should probably use the amounts shown in the video and watch the video to see how much to add and when.
Here are two other things you can do during winter to ensure your bees are snuggled in well:
Check each hive roof for seepage water onto the crown board, since damp is even a greater enemy to overwintering bees than cold.
Check that mouse guards are in place and that the entrance and exit passage is free and clear for bees to go on cleansing flights, collect water or even forage on winter flowers nearby.
Please stick with non-GMO ingredients when preparing food for your bees, they deserve nothing but the best.
And as always, we encourage you to visit the Our Old Farm House video over on YouTube and give them a like and subscribe because beekeeping is one of their interests.