Alright! The package of bees we ordered from Draper’s came this morning and we went to pick them up from the post office. We’re waiting till evening to hive them, so in the meantime we’ve been brushing sugar syrup on the screen of the package with a toothbrush. They’ve been eating it up all afternoon. I made the sugar syrup by boiling a handful of lemon balm leaves, a couple of tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of water until it was syrup like (drizzle some on a plate, when it cools you can feel if it’s syrupy or too watery). I also made a batch of fondant. This was made using the following recipe:
8 cups sugar, 2 cups already boiling water, and 10 drops sweet orange essential oil (optional)
Stirred the sugar into the boiling water and let it boil away until it began foaming and frothing. Once it foamed, I let it boil for about 5 more minutes, then turned the heat off. Every two minutes or so, the mixture was given a good whisking with a wire whisker, for about twenty minutes or until it became like fudge (you’ll know it’s getting close to fudge-like when it becomes puddingish) . . . . the whisking is crucial toward the fondant making process, so whisk away! By the time it was fudgy, it had cooled considerably and I left it on the countertop till it was completely cool . . . . it tastes pretty good with the orange oil ;0)
What I’m doing with the fondant is icing it onto a screen, which has been staple gunned onto a top bar. This fondanty bar will be placed into the hive for the bees to eat from. I made two of them and there’s plenty to refill the empty screen once they’ve eaten it all up. It’ll go on one end of the hive and should be easy to take out and replace without disrupting the bees too much. Seems simpler than putting a jar of syrup into the hive. We’ll find out the reality soon enough! I’m also going to leave a mason jar filed with syrup, inverted on a chicken watering tray, on top of the hive. Will refill that as it empties too. This is the feeding strategy we’ll implement, along with some fondant mixed with bee pollen that’s smashed into patties . . . . these will go on the hive floor. Sounds like a lot of food, right!?! After last time, maybe we’re overdoing it a bit but hopefully they’ll be happy with the offerings and stick around.