January 2019 - Joe Treimel's Advise on Spring Feeding

This winter has had many more warm days than usual, and that means the bees broke cluster and were flying on those days. This caused an increased consumption of their winter food (honey). Today the temperature made a big jump up from the -1 and 0 degrees which I saw (and felt) up here in New York last week. The thermometer topped out at 55 degrees Fahrenheit and all the bees were flying from my four hives. Being one to take advantage of this, I lit the smoker and put on the bee jacket and veil and opened all my hives to inspect them for the amount of food which they have remaining. In all the hives, the bees had partially moved up to the top box. I inspect in two ways: I pry loose and lift the top two boxes to get an idea of how much honey may be remaining. This is a bit more accurate than tilting a hive from behind or trying to lift the hive, but it still is subjective. I then start prying out frames next to the bee cluster to get an idea how many frames of honey remain. I was not at all surprised to see just a few frames of honey remaining in the top boxes (which had been full in October, along with the box below) of three of my four hives.

I had made up some Bee Candy this past weekend, so those three hives were all given a generous sheet of candy directly on the top bars, after I brushed the bees aside. To provide some extra vertical space for the bee candy, insert a shim (the same one you use when applying Thymol) between the top box and the inner cover. If you need a recipe for Bee Candy, it is as follows. REMEMBER, once you begin feeding your bees, you must continue to do so until we get a Dandelion bloom. Check every week to assure that your bees have enough remaining food.

Bee Candy


  • 5 Pounds Sugar

  • 1 Pound White Corn Syrup

  • 1 1/3 Cups Water

  • 1/4 Tsp Cream of Tartar

Dissolve sugar and white corn syrup and cream of tartar in the water by stirring and boiling until the temperature reaches 240 degrees. Let the syrup cool until it is between 180 and 200 degrees, then beat until thick. Pour the syrup into molds lined with waxed or parchment paper. It will harden as it cools. The molds should be a large baking pan or a cookie sheet with sides.

Note: The Pot should not be more than 2/3 full when starting, as the mixture will foam up and must be stirred down. Don’t risk a spill on the stove! You can feed the candy by placing pieces on sticks above the top bars or directly on the top bars. Use a Shim to provide extra space.

-Joe Treimel