Saturday, January 1, 2011

Flying and Candy!

Happy New Year! And what a wonderful way to start the new year - with temps about 52 degrees. I decided to walk back to the hives (first time in a couple of months) and see what was going on, and I was very pleased to see bees flying in and out of all three of my hives!!!!!

I was so excited about it, I even made a short video:

It started getting cold around the first part of November, and I hadn't checked on the bees since then, so it was very gratifying to see that there is some activity in all the hives.

I have my doubts that the hives have enough food to get the bees through the winter without some help, so today I decided to make up some Bee Candy. It's basically sugar candy that they can eat in an emergency. I got the recipe from another beekeeper's blog. I bought a candy thermometer a while back so I had all of the tools.

Here's the pot of sugar with the corn syrup and water:

Let me tell you, stirring 10 pounds of sugar with corn syrup sure puts my muscles to the test! I even had to switch to a stiffer spoon, so I didn't bend it. After a lot of stirring and a lot of heating, things finally got a little easier. But it still took over 1/2 hour of cooking (and did I mention stirring?) before the solution got thin enough to easily stir.

I had never made anything needing to boil sugar for candy, so it was a learning experience. Item #1 learned: boiling sugar syrup is HOT if you get some on your fingers. Item #2: EVERYTHING is going to get sticky, so be prepared.

After the candy reached the correct temperature, then cooled down a bit, I poured it into paper plates:

Item #3: you should not use the simple thin paper plates. Even though I used two plates per patty, it was a little flimsy and some of the sugar syrup spilled (see item #2 above). Next time I'll get Chinet plates.

Now that the candy has cooled mostly, it doesn't seem to set up as hard as I would have thought. Maybe I didn't let the temperature get high enough (although it did say 240 on the thermometer). But it'll do just fine when I put it in the hives. All in all it made about 13 plates of candy.

I'll probably put these in my hives this weekend; and maybe make a run to Sutton as well.

Here's to a prosperous new year for the bees!!


  1. I had the same problem with my candy the first year - it didn't set up all the way. The key is to really get the sugar up to that 240 temp - even if the recipe says 220-240. Let is stay there a few minutes beyond the recipe.

    Also - I use pie plates. Once it sets up hard, you can use wax paper to separate the patties in storage.

    Good luck!

  2. Yea, that's what I figured - that I didn't let it cook enough. But I don't consider it too bad, for my first time doing anything with candy!

  3. Good news! The candy plates were sitting out overnight, and it looks like the soft candy part "dried out" and is now hard. That'll make it easier to get the candy off the plates.


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