March 4, 2010

A Late Winter Check of the Honey Bees

At this time of the year, my beekeeper, Guy Hodges, likes to inspect the hives for activity and to provide the bees with some extra nourishment to prepare them for the busy spring ahead.  This supplemental food is called fondant bee candy.  Guy's recipe for the fondant is 5 pounds of sugar, 1 pint of water, and 1-1/4 teaspoons of vinegar.  The mixture is heated to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  It is then poured onto parchment-lined baking sheets, where it is allowed to cool and solidify into a fudge-like consistency.

You may recall that last winter, none of my hives survived and we were all curious as to the health of my colonies.  There seemed to be many dead honeybees at the entrance of the hives.  Guy explained that this is a normal sight around beehives.  Bees have a limited lifespan and the approximately 25,000 active honeybees in the hive will push the deceased bees out to the entrance, keeping the hive clean.  The efficiency of honeybees never ceases to amaze me!