Hard Winter Supplemental Sugar Cakes
Another winter storm is in the forecast so I took the opportunity early afternoon February 19, 2019 to check “under the hive hoods” to see how my bees were doing. Three colonies were almost out of the supplemental sugar/pollen cakes I had in the top “eke,” a 1.5 inch feeding shim I keep at the top of my hives most of the year.
The eke gives my colonies a top exit in case their bottom entrance gets closed by ice and snow.
All colonies were on the supplemental sugar cakes with pollen substitute I added mid-January. In the photo, those supplemental sugar and pollen substitute cakes are the golden ones on the right.
You can see the remains of the original sugar cakes I provided for supplemental feeding in the fall. The shells of the remaining sugar cakes are hard and dry, which is a good sign that the hive has been dry so far this winter. When there is moisture in the hive, the sugar cakes work as wicks to remove the moisture. Most bees don’t die of winter cold, they die from being wet.
The hard sugar is difficult for the bees to access so I sprayed the dry sugar with water from a spray bottle so the bees can move that supplemental sugar if they need it. Bees won’t move sugar while they are in a cluster but as soon as there is a warm, sunny day over 45F they will be flying out of the hive and re-arranging food stores.
Although I am enjoying the break from garden work, I do miss seeing my bees flying so this was the next best thing.