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.
Candy Feeding Box
Feeding Candy (Fondant) to Honey Bees
E.B. Wedmore described the making of candy in great detail,
I have paraphrased his words and metricated his quantities.
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.
You can buy fondant ready made up, from bakery wholesalers,
who call it 'confectionary fondant' (they use it for icing cakes). It
comes in fairly large blocks, but can be cut to the required size
using a 'cheese wire'. The blocks can be placed in a polythene bags and sealed
to prevent evaporation of the moisture. To use the blocks you can fit
them into purpose built frames or troughs or slash the side of the
wrapped block, quite deeply, with a knife which will give the bees
Bakery fondant is produced by mechanically mixing glucose,
fructose and powdered sucrose without using additional heat. However
you must specify that it needs to be additive and flavouring free.
Queen Candy is made and used
differently. It is made by mixing icing sugar (powdered sugar) with
honey until it is the consistency of putty or plastocene (modeling
clay). It is important to know the honey is free from disease before
making up such candy. It is also important that the powdered sugar
does not contain anti-caking agents... A coffee bean grinder or a
liquidiser attachment for a food processor will produce powdered
sugar from granulated sugar... Be careful here! Sugar powder is a
finely divided solid that can be very inflammable, even explosive, when
mixed with air.
There are two basic reasons for using queen candy.
I gave up using candy as a release agent for queens in 1996
and now use marshmallow, which has less tendency to go too hard for
the bees to nibble it. If the bees do ignore it, then it shrinks and
falls out of its own accord. Even the use of marshmallow is now
replaced by the
Albert Knight/Steve Taber/John Dews Method,
which I find totally reliable.
- Feeding queens and attendants in a traveling cage.
- As a medium for releasing queens in the introduction phase of
requeening. (The bees surrounding the cage eat away the candy to
release the queen.)
Written... 23 November 2001, Revised... 09 March, 22 November 2002