Fondant (also known as bee candy or bee paste) is
typically used as emergency supplemental feed for
honey bees - in the winter as a defense against low honey stores.
Unlike pure, white table sugar which is mostly sucrose, true honeybee fondant is
"inverted sugar" wherein sucrose has been converted into a mixture of glucose
and fructose, the same sugars that are found in honey. As such, fondant is
much easier for bees to digest.
A block of fondant is usually placed on the topmost hive frames where the
honey bees can access it as the cluster moves upward in the wintertime.
Click here for our favorite fondant recipe.
The Whole Hive Top Fondant Feeder plans shown here are for a simple and
effective winter time replacement of an inner cover. It holds up to 15 or
so pounds of fondant while providing for the usual ventilation so important to a
Why a Whole Hive Top Fondant Feeder?
- In winter, bees tend to cluster on the warm side of their hive that is hardly ever in dead center.
- The hole in standard inner covers is dead center - for bees to gain access to emergency sugar feed
placed on the inner cover requires them to travel not always possible during long, cold spells.
- The quantity of emergency sugar placed on inner cover is limited to maybe a pound or so at most (a small percentage of
the 60 lbs. or so winter food requirement here in the Northeast) therefore multiple trips to bee yard
to replenish the supply may be needed.
- Pure white table sugar is harder to digest than inverted sugar (e.g. fondant, bee candy)
which is in large part fructose and glucose.
The Whole Hive Top Fondant Feeder Tray
The feeder tray:
Replaces the inner cover in winter; the hive cover (a.k.a. "telescoping" top) can be placed directly on it.
- Provides honey bees access to the supplemental food
supply (the fondant) no matter where bees cluster.
- Combined with an insulated hive cover top, potentially provides much warmer feeding area (therefore more movement) than the top of traditional inner cover with sugar.
- Design provides more than sufficient ventilation at both ends of
the top-most super.
- Can be loaded with up to 16 lbs. (more, depending upon depth) of fondant -
enough for emergency AND early spring feeding.
- Can be placed on top of hive earlier in the season not requiring multiple field trips and inspections.
- Carries fondant which can also be combined with ingredients like pollen substitute,
essential oils, etc. for bee health early in the season.
Upper Entrance: Something to think about...
You may want to insure that the bees have an upper entrance (e.g. they are in areas where snow
may block the lower hive entrance). Then, the fondant board seen here needs a slight redesign to allow bees passage
to the outside. There are two possibilities:
- Notch/drill the fondant board side and top cover so they both have an
aligned escape hole big enough for bees to get through.
- Redesign the fondant feeder as follows:
- At least one of the side vents must be expanded to allow bees to pass through, i.e. the space between the end bar (see diagram above) must be at least "bee space", i.e. 3/8".
- The "plywood top" (see diagram above) must also be at least "bee space"
thick, i.e. 3/8", to allow bees space between the feeder and the top
cover which may sit directly on the feeder.
- The Top cover must be positioned such that it allows for space between it and the fondant feeder
on the modified side- so it too has at least 3/8" unobstructed space for bees to walk out. This can be done by the usual method: propping it/tilting it - or - making an extra large insulated top cover as I have done.