FEEDING BEES WITH FONDANT – 4th wk in January 2014

Quickly placing a flat bag of fondant in the eek space at the top of the brood box to supplement the bees' winter stores.

Quickly placing a flat bag of fondant in the eek space at the top of the brood box to supplement the bees’ winter stores.

With the temperature at present in single figures, the bees are clustered in the hive keeping warm and eating away on the stores of honey they accumulated last autumn before the temperatures dropped too low and the flowers faded. On a fine day if the temperature is around 10 -11 c, the worker bees may start cleaning out the hive and checking if pollen is available. Meanwhile, the bees depend on whatever food is in the brood box.

In January, I like to give the bees a foot square, one inch thick plastic sachet of baker’s fondant. A baker in Superquinn sold me a bucket of fondant a couple of years ago which keeps well if sealed. Using a re-sealable plastic bag, such as the Brennan’s or Mc Cambridge brown bread bags, I stuff spoonfuls of the fondant in to the bag, flatten it down to about an inch thick and re-seal it. Using a serrated knife, I cut a cross under the bag so the bees can get access to the fondant which is placed in the brood box.

Putting the fondant feed on top of the frames in the brood box is a quick operation. The weather is too cold to have the hive open for any length of time. All I need is an eek, a wooden frame which raises the hive roof an inch proud of the frames to facilitate the flat bag of fondant. With the eek in place, I just peel back the open side of the bag to about one inch square to allow the bees get access to the white sweet substance. Quickly the roof is replaced and hopefully the bees will hardly know they have been disturbed! I will not open the hive again until the temperature is about 15 c on a fine spring day. Until then, an occasional check to see the hive has not been interfered with, and a gentle ‘heft’ to check if the brood box is a healthy weight. Putting an ear to the hive wall in the winter reveals, not hibernation, but much sound of movement, clicks and buzzing – a hive of activity!

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anne Troy on January 31, 2014 at 9:59 am

    How interesting, the Wexford GIY group have a speaker on Bee keeping at our next meeting on February 17th in the Riverbank House Hotel, Wexford at 7.30pm

    Reply

  2. Posted by Kathryn on February 1, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Has the rat been back Trevor? I do hope we get an early spring for the bees this year so they won’t have to rely on the fondant for too long.

    Reply

    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on February 1, 2014 at 1:53 am

      Hi Kathy,

      No additional gnawing, so fingers crossed the rat is not persisting with efforts to enter the brood box. Maybe the cats are a deterrent. Roll on spring, Happy St Bridget’s Day!

      Trevor

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anne Troy on February 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    The February GIY meeting will be on Monday next February 17th at 7.30pm in the Riverbank House Hotel. Wexford

    7.30 Welcome
    7.45 Bee Keeping, talk given by James Hogan
    8.15 Questions & Answers
    9.00 Any other business

    Reply

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