Sugar Patties Ready!

They're in a cold oven drying, homemade sugar patties to feed my baby bee nurseries when warm weather allows.

This is my first winter to try to pull starting bee nucleus colonies, or "nucs," through. So far, so good, although when temperatures dip in the single digits I tend to want to move the little colonies into my basement to keep them warm.

Don't laugh, I know people who have done it. Not the basement exactly but an enclosed porch, which is close enough. Starter colonies have less bees than full colonies. They lack protection in numbers as they rotate in the cluster and try to eat so I try to give them food as close to the cluster as I can.

Last year, when winter lingered into a short spring, i made these sugar patties to pull my full size honeybee colonies through the wetter than normal season. In addition to food, dry sugar patties whick moisture, helping to keep hives dry. Here's the very simple, but tricky recipe:

Bee Winter Sugar Patties

5 lbs granulated sugar

7.5 ounces of water (make sure this is exact)

2 drops food grade essential oils - spearmint and lemongrass.


Mix well. Spread in pans. Leave overnight in cold stove to dry out. If you end up with still moist patties, re-mix and add a little more sugar, then dry again.

I use bread pans for the larger sugar patty blocks and cupcake pans to make smaller round patties for the nucs.

If I don't need to feed, I store extras in a sealed plastic container.


How to Make Hershey Hug Honeybees

I developed these for a garden club meeting. I was teaching basic beekeeping classes for them and thought a bee theme gift would be very appropriate.

To make: Remove papers from Hershey Hugs. Drain maraschino cherries on paper towels. Heat white chocolate in microwave covered dish in microwave until melted; 1.5-2 minutes on high. Every microwave heats differently so try it first in 30 second increments until you know how long it takes for your microwave.

Spread melted white chocolate on Hershey Hug bottom; add two almond slivers for wings. Allow to dry.

Stick maraschino cherry with a toothpick; dip in melted chocolate and place on wax paper. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator until cherries and chocolate are firm or wait 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to dry.

Spread more melted chocolate on Hershey Hug with almond slivers; attach flat side of chocolate-covered maraschino cherry to the flat end of Hershey Hug. Allow to dry.

Break toothpicks into 3 pieces; stick two through top for antenna. Toothpicks also work well as holders to pick up bees as finger food. Add two dots of black icing for eyes. You can also use melted dark chocolate dots for eyes.  Allow to dry.  Store in sealed container until serving.

People seem to love them, they tell me they are so cute, they don't want to eat them!


Hershey Hug Honeybee Ingredients

One of my gardening friends asked if she could make Hershey Hug Honeybees out of all white chocolate. The Hershey part won't have stripes so I think the delectable treat will look more like a bug than a honeybee.

You can use plain white bark or special white chocolate bark like Ghirardelli chocolate. When shopping for Hershey Hug Honeybee ingredients, try to keep all the parts relatively proportional to each other.

When looking for maraschino cherries without stems, select a jar with cherries about the same size as the bottom of a Hershey Hug. I have found maraschino cherry sizes vary so I now the bottom of cherry jars to get cherries about an inch wide.

Also make sure the sliced almond slivers are a healthy size for honeybee wings. I went through several almond sliver bags before finding the larger size.

Most people don't use toothpicks in their kitchen staples anymore so pick up a box of flat wood toothpicks you can easy cut into one thirds each. You can easily pick these up by the antenna but I also like to give them their own mini-cupcake papers.

Don't forget a little tube of black decorator icing for eyes.


Welcome to Home Sweet Bees

When I started keeping honeybees in 2010, I had no intention of falling in love. Bees, I thought, would be fun to add to the garden to help plant pollination.

I now teach and lecture on beginning beekkeeping and started a bee club to help beekeepers share and learn from each other.

I’m also developing my own lines of honey and bee-related products, not to mention being hooked on my own homemade whipped honey.

Have you tried it yet?