Due to the fluctuations in our weather these past few years, you may have to feed your hives in the winter even if they start out with the 2 deeps of Honey recommended. Here is a recipe we have used and loved from a great local beekeeper, Sam Hall.
Per Sam Hall:
Candy Recipe for Winter Feeding
*Makes 12lbs of Candy/Fondant, or 12 (1lb) patties in pie tins.
1 quart of water
15 pounds of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1 tbs Honey-B-Healthy,
1 lb. Raw Honey (from your own hives)
"Start to boil the water and add the white vinegar and keep stirring.
Stir constantly until all 15 pounds of sugar are dissolved into the
boiling water. If the sugar should burn throw it all out as the bees
cannot tell it is burned and it will kill them. Stir until the
temperature is 240 degrees not over and not under. Much over and you run
the danger of burning it. It will become milky and frothy which it is
supposed to do. After it has reached 240 degrees and you have turned off
the heat but are still stirring then add a pound of honey and a
tablespoon of honey-bee-healthy. Pour the mixture into the candy board
(we use aluminum pie tins instead) and it will set up but not completely
harden. You can put wax paper in the pie tins and then pour the mixture
in so you can lift out the pattie and reuse the pie tin for more batches. Do not
put the candy board (or pie tins) on the hive until after the bees have clustered
a couple of times as they will go to the candy and ignore their stores. Usually
this will be between Christmas and New Years. I also use this for late winter feeding."
Get all your ingredients together and ready to go.
Candy Thermometer, Scale, Measuring Cup
Large Saucepan (possibly 2)
White Cane Sugar
Your Own Raw Honey
Pie tins w/ waxed paper set aside ready to go
*Entire recipe will not fit in a 3 or 4 QT Saucepan. Use a larger pan or split the recipe equally between 2 Saucepans. Cook 1 batch at a time so as not to burn one of the batches.
Turn your stove on to low/med heat and add your sugar to the water.
Always keep stirring!!
If you let the bottom burn you have to throw out all the fondant or it will kill the bees. Very important to keep stirring.
Later in the process once you are close to 200 degrees you can add your vinegar.
*Make sure you use spatulas that are heat resistant over the temperature you are working at or use metal whisks.
Once the mix has gotten to exactly 240 degrees, take it off the heat, put on a hot plate and keep stirring.
Add your Honey-B-Healthy and your Raw Honey to the mix.
Keep stirring till thoroughly mixed. I will mix mine 5-10 mins.
*In past fondant/candy recipes without the use of honey, the mixture will go from almost translucent to white and thick almost immediately. In that time it is imperative that you get the mixture into your pie tins before it hardens in the pan. With honey in this recipe I did not see that change but it set up nicely once cooled in the pie tins.
The mixture will start to set up (get thicker) but because of the honey in it, the mix won't set up as rapidly in your bowl as it would without.
Ladle or pour the mix into your pie tins or selected container.
Lay your pie tins out to cool and set.
Once it has set you can remove from pie tins with wax paper still on.
I trim the edges of the wax paper to be almost flush with the candy then place in the hives whole or break in half depending on the colonies placement in the hive.
Note: If you fill 9" pie tins halfway it should equal to 1 lb patties each.
This recipe will make 12 lbs.
Store unused in ziplock bags in freezer. Allow to cool thoroughly before placing in ziplock bags. Unthaw patties and bring to room temperature before placing in hive.
Place an Imrie Shim on top of the topmost deep box on your hive. Place your candy on top of the top bars in the hive NEAR the cluster, NOT on top of the cluster. Your inner cover will go on top of the shim and then your telescoping top. You can leave the candy in a pie tin or leave it in the wax paper or put it directly on the top bar. Either way the bees will feed on it.
The bees will swarm over the candy and start feeding if they need it. Check back in 2 weeks or so to see how much they have eaten. Stronger colonies will eat more. Photos of bees in the hives w/ candy are from Sam Hall's Apiary.