In his article on the clustering behavior of honey bees, Kent mentioned making “patties”. Below is his patty recipe. Patties this time of year are intended as an emergency feeding for the bees. The recipe’s main ingredients are granulated sugar, some sugar syrup and a protein supplement such as Mega-bee, Feed Bee or Brood Builder . Other ingredients mentioned role is to help attract the bees to the patties and add cost (Phil’s cheap). the companies that make the protein supplements have recipes for use with their products at their webpages. Kent also warns about small hive beetles, any time you feed sugar syrup and protein or pollen you risk stimulating the laying of eggs by small hive beetles even in cold weather. You can also make bee candy and place over the top bars of the hives as emergency winter feeding of hives. Below Kent’s patty recipe are a couple of fondant recipes. For those you will need a candy thermometer. You can find more fondant recipes on the internet; just put winter feeding of honey bees and fondant into a search engine. Be aware that bees will not break their cluster to take advantage of any winter emergency weather until it gets up into the 40s (F), but will go more quickly to food placed directly over the frames.
Kent Williams’ patty recipe
“The patties I use are made with 7 parts granulated sugar, 3 parts pollen sub, (I use Mega-Bee, but any powdered protein honey bee supplement will work) and one part syrup. The syrup is made by mixing 1 pint Honeybee healthy with 5 gallons of 1-1 sugar syrup, or straight hfcs (high fructose corn syrup – as sold by beekeeping supply companies) 55 or 42. For smaller amounts, this figures to around 3 tablespoons per quart, Honeybee Healthy to syrup. When I make the patties, I use a small cement mixer and mix 25 lb. sugar with 3 quarts mega-bee and one quart syrup. If beetles are an issue, I replace the HBH with a homemade mix containing wintergreen and lemongrass oils, but the same results can probably be reached by just adding a half dozen drops of wintergreen to each patty when placing it on the colony. Beetles may be attracted to the patties, but won’t be a real problem until the weather warms up, usually around mid-March in Western KY. (You can get too much wintergreen oil on the patties, which will result in the bees either evacuating the hive or being driven away from the patty.)
A small-batch fondant recipe
Mix 2 cups granulated sugar, 1.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, and 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar. Stir until sugar dissolves and continue to heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 238 degrees F. (Use a candy thermometer.) If you use bottled corn syrup from the grocery store, make sure it is “light” corn syrup, not “dark”. Dark corn syrup has molasses in it, which should not be fed to bees. Pour the mixture onto a cool surface and let it sit until cool enough to touch. Then beat the candy until it is thick and pour it into a thin container or mold, like a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, to harden. The candy can be broken up and placed over the inner cover. Alternatively, an empty honey super can be placed on top of the brood chamber and the candy placed on stick supports on the top of the brood bars. Some beekeepers will make a special small fondant feeder similar to an inner cover, but deeper (1 inch or more). The candy can be poured into this feeder and placed over the brood box upside down. Another recipe for larger batches calls for 15 lbs. sugar, 3 lbs. corn syrup, 4 cups water, and ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Make the candy in the same manner as the small-batch recipe. Cooking and beating are the keys.