What is Candy Board Beekeeping?

Candy Board Beekeeping is a practice I came across during my journey as beekeeper. Have you ever wondered how bees survive the harsh winter? The concept originates from the age-old practice of providing additional food for bees during winter.

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Origin of Candy Board Beekeeping

Beekeepers in cold regions initiated the tradition of Candy Board Beekeeping as they tackled the challenge of ensuring their colonies’ survival through the winter. The solution they devised was a candy board, a hardened sugar solution placed in the hive.

A candy board essentially acts as an insurance policy against the possibility of bees running out of food in the midst of winter, providing the necessary nutrition until spring flowers bloom.

Why Candy Boards for Beekeeping?

Candy boards play an important role in providing bees the necessary sustenance during harsh winter months. The sugar content in the candy acts as an excellent source of carbohydrates for the bees. During long and harsh winters, the bees may consume their honey stores faster than anticipated. In such cases, the candy board acts as a backup, preventing the bees from starving.

How to Create a Candy Board for Bees

I’m thrilled to share with you a sweet and simple way to give your buzzing friends a little boost, especially during those cold, harsh winters. I’m talking about creating a candy board for bees. You’re going to need some basic ingredients and tools. Grab some sugar, water, a little bit of vinegar, and some essential oils like lemongrass or spearmint. You’ll also need a large pot to cook your candy mixture, a candy thermometer, and a candy board frame.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Mix your sugar and water in the pot. For every 5 pounds of sugar, you’ll need 1 pint of water.
  2. Heat this mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the sugar solution reaches a temperature of about 234 degrees Fahrenheit (remember that candy thermometer?), add in your vinegar. Just a tablespoon will do the trick.
  4. Keep heating the mixture until it hits 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you’re there, turn off the heat, and let it cool a little.
  5. Now, here’s where the essential oils come in. Add just a few drops to the mixture. This not only gives your candy board a nice scent but also attracts the bees!
  6. Once everything is nicely mixed, pour the mixture into your candy board frame and let it harden.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest perks is that candy boards act like an emergency food store for your bees. Think of it as a bee’s version of a well-stocked pantry! When their regular food supply runs short, these boards offer an accessible source of nutrition. So, even in the harshest winters, our beloved bees can still feed and survive.

What’s more, these candy boards are super easy to monitor. You can simply pop into your apiary, take a quick look, and immediately know whether your bees are in need of a refill.

Let’s not forget the ease of use. You don’t need to be a master chef or a seasoned beekeeper to make these candy boards. With a few simple ingredients and a little patience, you’ll have a deliciously enticing food source ready for your hive.

But just like anything else, it’s not all roses (or in this case, honey). While candy boards can be a lifesaver during those chilly winter months, they’re not meant to replace the natural, nutritious diet of pollen and nectar that bees usually have. Yes, the candy board provides an essential lifeline when resources are scarce, but remember, it’s like fast food for bees – okay in a pinch, but not something you want them dining on all the time.

And speaking of winter, it’s easy to think that a candy board is all your hive needs to make it through. Not quite. Sure, it provides food, but it doesn’t offer the warmth bees need during the coldest months. You’ll still need to winterize your hive to keep the temperature up.

One more thing to consider is moisture. When bees consume the sugar from the candy board, they produce moisture. If this isn’t managed properly, it could lead to a damp hive – not ideal for your bee buddies.

But don’t let these potential pitfalls deter you. The trick is to think of the candy board as a tool in your beekeeping toolkit, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. With careful management and a thoughtful approach, you can still enjoy the many benefits of candy board beekeeping while minimizing the downsides.

Best Practices

Let’s dive into some expert tips that’ll make your candy board adventure a sweet success. With these tips in your beekeeping toolkit, you’re all set to master the art of candy board beekeeping.

Timing is Everything: While candy boards are your bee’s best buddy during winter, don’t rush to slap one on the hive at the first hint of a chill. Wait until the bees have had their fill of nature’s bounty – usually around late fall. This way, the candy board serves its purpose as an emergency food store, rather than becoming an everyday meal.

Quality Matters: Your sugar solution is the star of the show here, so make sure you use good-quality, pure cane sugar. Remember, your bees deserve the best! Plus, pure cane sugar won’t harm your bees or introduce any unwanted substances into the hive.

Mix it Right: When preparing your sugar solution, consistency is key. The right mixture should be firm but not rock hard, so the bees can easily consume it. So, keep an eye on your candy thermometer and follow the recipe instructions closely.

Keep It Dry: As we’ve mentioned before, candy boards can create excess moisture in the hive. So, ensure you have a plan to manage this. A moisture quilt or an upper entrance can help reduce dampness and maintain a healthy hive.

Monitor Regularly: Finally, don’t just set it and forget it. Regularly check on your candy board (without disturbing the bees too much, of course). This helps you know when it’s time for a refill and gives you a chance to spot any potential issues early on.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Putting the candy board on too early. Now, I get it. As soon as the temperature drops a few degrees, it’s tempting to whip up that sugar solution and rush to help our little buddies. But remember, candy boards are like a bee’s emergency food pantry, to be used when their natural food sources are scarce. So, try to hold off until late fall to provide that extra assistance just when your bees need it most.

The other side of this coin is leaving the candy board in the hive for too long. It’s crucial to remember that candy boards are not a permanent meal ticket for our bees. They’re a supplement, a lifeline during the hard, cold months of winter. Once spring rolls around and nature’s pantry is restocked with delicious nectar and pollen, it’s time to remove that candy board.

As a beekeeper myself, I’ve seen first-hand how invaluable a tool like a candy board can be for overwintering bees. The satisfaction of knowing you’ve played a part in helping your buzzing buddies survive the harsh winter? Trust me, there’s nothing quite like it. But, it’s equally essential to understand the balance required in using tools like candy boards effectively. It’s all about providing the right help at the right time.


What is Candy Board Beekeeping? Candy Board Beekeeping is a practice of providing bees with additional food, in the form of a hardened sugar solution, during winter.

Why are candy boards important in beekeeping? Candy boards serve as an insurance policy against bees running out of food during winter, ensuring their survival until the spring bloom.

How do you make a candy board for bees? A candy board can be made by dissolving sugar in a mixture of water and vinegar, and then allowing it to harden in a candy board frame before placing it in the hive.

What are the benefits of Candy Board Beekeeping? The benefits include ensuring the survival of bee colonies during winter and managing the risk of starvation. It is also a cost-effective method.

Are there any drawbacks to Candy Board Beekeeping? While beneficial, candy boards are not a complete substitute for honey as they lack the comprehensive nutrition of honey. They should be seen as a supplemental food source for the winter months.

Kate King

Kate King

My experiences in sustainable living aim to contribute positively to our environment and community. This shared wisdom fosters respect and love for nature, emphasizing our place in the broader ecological framework.

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