Rock candy days

Last weekend I noticed that the hive was active – under these recent mild temperatures and windless days – so I ordered 5 lbs of white sugar rock candy to feed them. During lean times in the spring and fall I can feed the bees sugar syrup, but since they won’t defecate in the hive box and can leave very rarely in this season, feeding them sugar with a minimum of liquid content is very important. Dysentery is a real threat to a colony in the winter.

This is a very social hive and I have never been stung working with them. Bees, like humans, get cranky after a long confinement in bad weather but still they were friendly and cooperative, if a little antic. There were no bees outside as I approached the hive. I took the large rock off and then removed the telescoping cover and at that point I could hear them – a good sign. The thick layer of newspaper (a combination of The Islander and The Bangor Daily News) under the cover was damp all the way through, which is another good sign. A healthy colony puts off a lot of heat and moisture. The newspaper absorbs the moisture so that it does not condense and drip back down on the bees. Wet bees are a bad thing.

As soon as I peeled the newspaper up I had bees in the air. I quickly put the paper aside (and took a picture), laid down a small piece of wax paper and poured out  a pound of rock candy. They immediately began to crawl over the pile. They will probably eat the wax paper too, and even the newspaper had tunnels throughout.

I put everything back together and went back to the house. There was no one else home to check my back, so I did bring a few workers in on my jacket. Once they found the windows I could trap them safely in a glass dish and bring them back to the hive entrance.

Next week I’ll check them again, weather permitting, and dump another pound or two in if necessary. There are still three months to go until dandelion season.

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