An Emergency Winter Feed for Bees

By Ian Brown

If you are uncertain whether your bees have sufficient winter stores, then the following is a recipe for candy which can be safely fed to the bees when they are not active due to cold conditions and therefore could not be safely fed with syrup.


  • 2.5 kg white sugar
  • 0.5 litres water
  • aluminium saucepan 7 pint (4 litre)
  • wooden spoon
  • some type of mould, e.g. aluminium baking tray(s) lined with baking paper or Takeaway food containers.

Method Put water in saucepan on moderate heat and slowly add sugar, stirring constantly. When all the sugar is added, bring to a fairly vigorous boil, still stirring constantly, and adjusting the heat so that the solution does not boil over. After 3 minutes vigorous boiling, remove the pan and stand in a bowl of cold water. The solution must be stirred vigorously at this point to keep the cooled solution on the side of the pan thoroughly mixed with the hot solution in the centre of the pan. When the solution begins to thicken, pour into the mould(s) scraping as much of the solution out of the pan with the wooden spoon before it candies. When the slabs of candy are cool, they can be removed from the moulds complete with the lining paper and stored in plastic bags until needed.

NOTE It is essential that the solution must be constantly stirred throughout the whole operation; if the sugar solution is burnt, it can be harmful to the bees.

Any of the candy sticking to the saucepan, spoon etc. can be dissolved off with hot water to make syrup. Similarly, any candy unused at the end of winter can be dissolved in water to make syrup for feeding to the bees.

To use the candy, place the slab of candy directly on top of the frames and cover with the hive mat on a warm day when the bees are flying freely. It is not necessary to remove the baking paper as long as the bees have access to one face of the candy. Replace as necessary.

NOTE This is an emergency measure and should not be necessary if the bees have been properly prepared for winter.

Ian Brown