The boards I use are just a thick wooden frame with a wire mesh to support what's essentially a huge sugar lump. Other designs I've seen have been more like a crown board with slightly deeper sides and the sugar stuck to the underside of the wooden board rather than supported by a mesh. I already had 3 empty boards from last year so just needed to make one more for the fourth hive.
|Making a fourth candyboard|
Using some more or less 40mm x 40mm wood cut at 45 degree angles then screwed and glued together with a small entrance drilled in one side and a wire mesh is inserted and stapled in place by the sides. My old Argos stapler seems to be dying a death after only 16 years use so I wound up banging the staples in with a hammer whilst listening to Therapy.
Last year I'd put about 5KG of sugar in each frame, given how little the bees had used this was obviously excessive. This year I decided to put just 3.75 kilos of sugar in each board, I could probably use less but need to make sure the sugar lump will support it's own weight as there's some flexibility in the wire mesh. Actually in hindsight I could probably put a rigid support across the middle but that'd probably make it a bit harder to pull out the unused sugar in Spring.
Mixing a few kilos of sugar with minimal amounts of water is more like mixing concrete than cooking and I snapped a spatula last time. This time I bought a stainless steel gardening trowel to mix it with and used a huge food grade plastic bucket I'd acquired courtesy of my local Subway. Well I say it was from Subway but it could've been absolutely anyone dumping two large buckets of breadmix with the labels scratched down the side of their shop next to their bins the night before they were due to be emptied... Anyway after a thorough clean they're proving useful.
|Stir it up|
|Empty boards lined with plastic wrap |
-don't want to glue them the utility room floor
As well as sugar the bees need protein which they get from pollen. You can buy pollen that bees have collected but you can't give this to your bees in case it harbours viruses or other disease that won't affect the humans it's being marketed to. I added some Candipolline Gold Bee Feed which contains pollen that's been sterilised with Gamma radiation -yep beekeeping is so olde worlde... I put a small block of Candipolline in the middle of each board with plastic on the top and sides to keep it from the sugar but the bottom side open against the mesh so the bees can access it from below.
|Candipolline Gold Bee Feed with Pollen|
|The filled Candy Boards will need a while to dry|
|Emergency Rations for Hive4, just in case.|
After a couple of weeks drying time I put the candy boards onto the hives with the Kingspan insulation on top and then the roof on top of that. It's been pretty mild so far although the temperature doesn't seem to affect food stores as you'd expect - general consensus seems to be that whilst colder weather uses more stored food to keep the bees warm warmer weather means more activity in the hive which also means more food used. Hopefully it won't be needed and I'll be dissolving the sugar to make 1:1 syrup in Spring.
|Insulation on top, just needs the roof and they're done.|