We think a candy board is kind of like a cheap insurance policy. The benefits of a candy board, made correctly adds many benefits to help the beehive over the winter. The candy board is simply a hardened sugar mixture that lives in a 2-3 inch frame body and uses 1/2″ hardware cloth on the bottom to hold the “candy” up. I said 1/2″ hardware cloth, not 1/4″. This is important. We also put a pollen patty in the top so that it’s there in February (around the time for brood-rearing to begin.) It sits on the top hive body just under the inner cover.
Let’s consider some benefits:
- If the bees deplete all the honey stores, they hit the candy board and this may help feed them for the remainder of the winter, or at least until you look in the hive again.
- Condensation is a big concern in the hive. Cold air outside and warm bees inside make moisture. This moisture can collect on the top of the hive. The candy board will absorb most, if not all the moisture into the sugar and likely keep it from dropping back down on to the cluster. Wet bees will die.
- There is also a hole that passes up through the candy board and a 5/8 inch hole is drilled through the front. See the pictures, and the video. This allows warm humid air from inside the hive to exit out this hole to prevent condensation in the hive.
To us, these benefits alone merit putting a candy board on the top of each hive. Watch the video to see how you can make your own candy board. Click here for the ingredients and recipe/directions.
As of this posting, not two weeks after putting the candy board on top of the hive, my bees have eaten a hole up through the top. I had to play patch-work with a new batch of sugar and filled in the hole in the candy board. The idea is that around late Jan or Feb, when the bees may have depleted their stores, they hit the candy board. So, I’m thinking we may want to put the candy board on later… when it’s mostly cold and the bees don’t want to break cluster. This may make the board last into the cold times when you need it most. Keep your logs and see what works best for you.
I also noticed a little mouse nibbling on the front of my entrance reducer. I’ll surround those little openings with sheet metal ASAP.
Here’s a recent video I did when our winter bee meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Here’s a video we did back in 2010 at our bee meeting location. It has good information, and it’s fun to see how far we have come since then.