Candy Boards Questions & Answers
Some sort of candy board has been around for a long time. Beekeepers of long ago placed candy in their hives to provide enough food for their bees to survive the long months of winter. There are various mixtures and receipts for candy boards. Some are made with the candy soft and some with hard candy. The end result is still the same. The bees will consume the sugar as they need it.
We've always been concerned about the amount of condensation that can develop above the hive during the winter. The bees produce heat within their hive and as the temperature is very cold outside the hive, condensation will develop on the warm side, just above the bees on the inner cover or top cover. This condensation can accumulate and drop down onto the winter cluster of bees below. Bees can stay warm in the winter but they must remain dry. If this cold water drips down onto the bees, it can reduce their ability to keep their cluster warm. As moisture develops with the use of the candy board, the bees will use this moisture to help digest the hard sugar. Thus, a candy board can take care of two winter stresses, the lack of food and excessive moisture.
We make our candy boards with 5 lbs of sugar. Click here to order your candy boards today. We recommend that you place candy boards on the hive around December 22 (Winter Solstice).
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Which way does the candy face in the hive?
A: The candy faces down just above the winter cluster. Normally, this means that the candy board would be placed on the brood box that contains the cluster. For example, if you overwinter your bees in a single deep hive body, the candy board would be placed on this deep hive body with the candy facing down toward the cluster. If you are using two deep hive bodies to overwinter, then the candy board would be placed on the top deep hive body. It is best to disregard the use of an inner cover, and simply place your top cover over the candy board.
Q: What about winter moisture? Why aren't the candy boards ventilated?
A: Moisture can develop in the winter from condensation, a contrast of the heat the bees produce in the hive and the extreme cold temperature outside the hive. Condensation accumulates on the warm side, which means moistures collects on the inner cover or top cover above the hive. This can drip down on the bees and chill them during the winter. However, a candy board takes the place of an inner cover and any moisture that develops from condensation aids the bees in consuming the candy.
Q: How long will a candy board last on a hive?
A: On average about 3 weeks. However, a colony that has ample stored honey may not consume the candy board as fast or not at all until they need it. A colony close to starvation may consume a candy board with a week or two.
Q: Since these have to be placed or replaced on the hive in the winter, can I open the hive up on a cold day?
A: It is best to place the candy boards on a hive when the temperature is above freezing and try to place the candy board on and have the hive sealed back up within 1-2 minutes. It should not take over 1 minute. Do not remove any frames in cold temperatures, only place your candy boards on and off quickly. If you can choose the warmest day during the winter, that would be best. Try to avoid very cold, windy or rainy days.
Q: How do I refill a candy board?
A: It is best to send back your candy board and we will refill it for $7 plus shipping. If you are a good candy maker, you can do it yourself.
Q: How do I get one with a pollen patty mixed into the board?
A: We have candy boards on our website with pollen patties. Or request it when you call. The cost is a few dollars more.
Q: Can I make my own?
A: You can, but you must experiment, because you do not want the candy to be too hard or too runny.
Q: Why was some liquid sugar dripping out of my candy board when I received it?
A: It is the nature of candy boards to be a bit on the dripping side even though the top may be hard. Do not be concerned if you see liquid sugar dripping out of your boards when you receive it. It usually means it was left on end during shipment for a prolong period of time. The bees will clean everything up and enjoy this soft liquid.
Q: How much sugar is in one candy board?
A: 5 pounds
Q: When do I put a candy board on my hive?
A: At the start of Winter Solstice (December 22)
Q How often should I check my candy board?
A: Every three weeks, take a peak.
Q: Do you make candy boards for 5 frame nucs or 8 frame hives?
A: Yes, check out our website to order, but carefully read the description to make sure you are ordering the correct size and type.
Q: Can the candy break loose from the board on the hive?
A: It rarely happens, but during extreme winter weather, the candy and separate from the board while on the hive. This is not a problem. The bees will continue to consume the sugar.
Q: When I place it on the hive, do I use my inner cover. Just how does it go on?
A: The candy board takes the place of your inner cover. Simply place the candy board on the top of your upper hive body or super with the candy facing down, then place your top cover on top of the candy board. Be sure to use a rock or brick to make sure the wind does not blow your top cover off.