I spent yesterday making up five candy trays for the bees. When I first started bee keeping, I pondered over the worry that I didn’t know how much food the brutes had available and devised this ingenious solution and, since I rarely lose any colonies over winter, I’m not stopping doing it now. Round a bout April, I will find out whether it was needed or not; there are times that one colony will have eaten the lot while the one next too it will not have touched theirs. It was only a few years ago that articles started appearing in apiarist circles about the technique.
The theory is that the bees cluster in a tight ball at the top of the hive when the weather is cold, to keep warm. If food isn’t to hand, they can’t leave the warmth of the cluster to go looking for it. If their ceiling is made of a solid block of food, it doesn’t matter where they are, it is always to hand. It is common to find colonies that have died of starvation over the winter even though there is plenty of food just out of reach; I just don’t want it to happen to my bees.
The candy trays are quite heavy, each one contains four kilos of sugar, plus the water to dissolve it in before turning it into candy; together with the wood, there’s nearly five kilos apiece – hence the need for the wheel-barrow.
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