Bees, Recipes
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Fondant for bees

Made fondant for the bees. Fun stuff! Being sort of anti-sugar I’ve never made candy before. Getting to see the sugar bubble and change to different states was really cool.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 drop lemongrass essential oil

Here it is cooling in a heart shaped mold.

brown hive log, bee fondant recipe, winter feeding
I checked the bees yesterday and they are buzzing wildly in their hive. But it is so cold and the hive was a little lite. Extra food will insure the bees are strong through the rest of the winter. Once it warms up above 50 again I can feed sugar water.

This is some of the detailed recipe that I based it on. Curbstone Valley Farm has a great page with lots of photos.

Bee Fondant Recipe

10 lbs granulated white table sugar*
2 pints water
2 teaspoons of White Vinegar
pinch of salt

Equipment:

Heavy bottom 7-8 Qt stock pot
Wooden spoon
Heat-proof containers for molds
Candy Thermometer**

Before starting, prepare the molds you will use to form the fondant blocks. Any heat-proof container will work. Line each mold with foil. This serves two purposes. It helps to lift the fondant free from the container, otherwise you may find you need to chisel it out. Once lifted from the container, the foil can can be wrapped around the blocks for storage. Store the excess fondant in airtight containers, and wrapping them in foil prevents the blocks from sticking together in storage.

Add a pinch of salt to the water. Place the sugar in the pan, and then pour the water over the sugar, and stir.

Heat this sugar and water mixture over medium-high heat to 238 degrees (which you’ll know is ‘soft ball stage’ if you’re a candy maker). Stir the mixture constantly to prevent overheating, or burning, the sugar at the bottom of the pan. Remember, stir stir stir, burnt or caramelized sugar is bad for bees!

Once the mixture reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the vinegar. The acid in the vinegar helps to invert some of the sugars, making them more easily digested by the bees.

Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 238 F. It takes a little while, but the syrup will reach 238F. Remember, if it doesn’t get hot enough, it won’t set! During cooking the syrup will foam at the surface, just be careful not to let it foam too much and boil over.

One you’ve reached the target temperature, remove the mixture from the heat, and cool to 200 F. Whip the fondant with an electric beater until the mixture is opaque, and white in color. I recommend using a hand mixer, as transferring searingly hot molten sugar to a stand mixer at this stage can be very dangerous. Mix at slow speed at first to avoid splashing, and gradually increase the mixer speed as you go.

Once whipped, immediately ladle the fondant into foil-lined molds. You’ll need to work fairly quickly as the fondant will begin to set.

Leave the fondant in the molds until cooled to room temperature, and set

If feeding fondant in warmer weather areas, you can heat the mixture to 250 F for a denser brick of fondant that will resist melting better.

You can still feed 2:1 syrup on warmer days too, but the fondant will take longer to consume, and hold them over on the days the hives can’t be opened due to bad weather. You can also place the fondant directly on the top bars if there’s concern the bees won’t move up to the feeder in cold weather, but you’ll need a shim.

*Brown sugar, and raw sugar, contain caramelized ingredients that are harmful to bees. Confectioner’s sugar contains corn starch that is indigestible. Only use granulated white sugar!

** Don’t ‘eye-ball’ the fondant. Occasionally we hear beekeepers complain that their fondant didn’t set. In every single case, when asked, they admit to NOT using a thermometer to test the temperature of the syrup. Making fondant is more science than art, you can’t tell just by looking at it if it’s done. If you use a thermometer, I promise your fondant will set every time!

Now for the obligatory legal bit…

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

Sugar is flammable. Don’t allow the sugar mixture to boil over, or you’ll have more excitement on the stove top than you bargained for!

Molten sugar can cause SEVERE BURNS. Seriously. Don’t make fondant while naked (that’s my common sense voice, not the voice of experience). Banish small children, AND PETS, from the kitchen while preparing fondant for your bees. Protect your eyes, and avoid splashing while stirring. Be very careful when transferring the fondant to the molds. Leave it undisturbed until it’s cool.

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