Making sugar candy for the bees is one of the simplest ways to feed sugar to your bees. However, if a good “candy” making process isn’t followed can cause problems for you and your bees.
Things you need:
- A large pot
- Wooden Spoon
- Candy Thermometer This is important. If you don’t have one order one here or borrow one.
Bring 1 pint (2 cups) of water to a boil.
Add 5 lbs of sugar.
Stir it until all the sugar dissolves into the water. Place the thermometer in the pot and monitor the temperature.
Continue to heat on high, stirring occasionally until around 220 degrees. As the solution reaches 220 degrees you will see a change. Bubbles will form on the top and thicken a little.
Reduce heat and continue to stir. You want to bring the solution up to at least 245 degrees but it should be done slowly. As you stir you should still see clear liquid. If all you see are bubbles, reduce the heat slightly. If you heat it too fast or stop stirring it will start to boil over. (See photo) If this starts to happen reduce the heat and keep stirring. If you are concentrating on taking a photo it will likely start to boil up.
You can gradually turn up the heat and bring the solution to 245 degrees. On a perfect day, you can stop at 245 degrees. If the humidity is high or the solution not completely heated evenly you can run into problems. I like to bring it up to almost 260 degrees on humid days. Many have reported that 250 to 255 is good number to shoot for. The hotter you get the more water you evaporate so there is some room for error going a little over 245 degrees. I like to keep the solution at temperature for a few moments and continuing stirring.
Remove the pot from heat and let it cool down a little.
There are several different containers you can now pour the candy into. Tinfoil pan tins or cookie sheets can great large thin blocks which can be placed above the inner cover. This year I tried something new for me and poured them directly onto an inner cover. I used a cup and wooden spoon handle to keep the candy on the board.
I can now place the inner cover onto the hive with little or no fuss. Remember once you start feeding the bees sugar candy you need to continue until there is a natural food source available.
If you heat the sugar too fast or don’t remove enough of the water the solution won’t set properly. This can cause it to become runny and sugar syrup can drip out of the candy. This is dangerous for the bees as it can chill them. If this happens just scrap the sugar solution back into a pot with some water and reheat it.
If you burn the sugar you can not give it to the bees. Caramelized or burned sugar is poisonous to bees.