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Feeding fondant

I have 2 hives. Its currently an unseasonably warm February and the girls are out foraging, bringing back pollen.
Conscious of what happened last year - a warm spell followed by a cold and wet spell, this year I have given both hives fondant, just in case they are using energy flying, but its too early for nectar.

The colony in hive 1 relishes the fondant - 1 block lasting less than 2 weeks, and there are bees in the plastic container ensuring every last molecule has been taken.

The colony in the second hive clearly have different tastes, because in the same timescale they have probably only eaten 1/3rd of a block of identical fondant, and I can’t see any bees in fondant container, so they are showing little or no interest. To be fair it does seem a smaller colony, but that doesn’t explain why there are no bees on the fondant itself. I’m curious if anyone has any possible explanations.

Depending on how the weather goes I may swap from fondant to syrup. I read that there are various additives one can add to the syrup - such as VitaFeed. I’d be interested in peoples experience of these additives, or whether they are as beneficial as snake-oil.

I’m not sure of the product you’re talking about, i.e. 'Fondant" but I have used honeybee healthy. And the girls do like and it does provide a benefit. Just be careful about using it for when you use honeybee healthy, it will encourage the Queen to start laying eggs. They think there is a big pollen source or food out there which triggers the egg laying. If you’re able to do a hive inspection and a mite inspection, I would. There may be other reasons why one colony is weaker.

You always could do what I call a switcheroo. In the middle of the day move colony one to the position of colony 2 and move colony 2 to the position of colony one.

The girls that are out forging will come back to the original location, i.e. the weaker colony will now have an influx of stronger forging these, it may help the weaker colony.

Hi Marty, I get the bakers fondant from one of the association members, so its unbranded. I doubt there is anything added.
Towards the end of the season I did have a big mite problem with the smaller colony. For personal reasons my eye wasn’t on the ball, so when I did treat, the drop was horrendous. I ended up treating that one hive 4 times over 5 weeks. I have monitored the count over the winter and its been near to zero, so hopefully I have got on top of that problem.

I like the idea of the ‘switcheroo’ . . . I might give that a try. I’m going to wait until March because although we’re experiencing April/May temperatures, it will change, and I’m sure we’ll get some cold, wet weather before the winter is out.
Thanks for the tips.

How have you been doing your Mite inspection/check? Just was at a seminar conference and if you’re not doing an alcohol wash as your mite check, you may not be getting a good accurate analysis.

I have tried Honey-B-Healthy, which is an emulsion containing essential oils and some vitamins. It smells quite strongly of Lemongrass and Spearmint. The bees loved it, and it prevented mould from growing in the syrup. One caution is not to use it just before a nectar flow, as it will flavour the honey, as one of our Forum members once found out… :blush:

Usually now I just add vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to acidify the syrup to pH 4, making it closer to nectar. It works fine.

I feed fondant and other products and it works fine. You just have to make sure that the product is in contact with the cluster, this way when there is a cold snap, they don’t have to move to feed. Mine are starting to rear brood so it’s important to make sure they have lots of food: They will not leave brood and I’ve seen hives starve to death over brood with food sitting 3" away from the cluster :frowning: