Winter feeding

Weeks before the shortest day of the year, concern for my bees begins to ramp up. Did I control mite populations? Is the queen capable of getting to spring? Are there enough healthy bees to keep the colony alive? What should (could?) I have done differently? Can I change anything in December?

I console myself in knowing that I did my best and can’t change anything with one exception, I can supplement the winter stores using some form of purchased sugar. I’ve used candy boards, internal syrup feeders, added stored honey frames and my current favorite – commercial fondant purchased through the local bakery. I find it to be cost effective and relatively easy to apply.

Yesterday was mid 60s with light wind. Bees were flying so a perfect December day to add a slab of fondant. Anticipating the possibility, I scooped fondant to zip seal gallon bags and rolled it out to somewhere around bee space or 3/8”.

At the apiaries, I tear back the top side of the bag, cut the fondant into three sections and place one section on the top bars under each hive’s inner cover. If I’ve been too generous and the inner cover doesn’t fit down completely, it is easy to push it down and spread the fondant. I try to avoid the inner cover opening so that ventilation can continue.

So, do the bees like fondant? Just for fun, I placed a lump next to the protein feeder. You can’t see much of it because of the bees.