Geri, from the Mendocino Coastal Beekeepers Group sent over this note to Tanya. We wanted to share here for anyone who might find the information useful!
Jason and I tried sugar syrup last year and it always seemed to be a mess. Plus sometimes we have to be gone for a week or 2 and the bees just ran out of syrup too quickly.
This year we started with dry sugar sprayed with water to make it clump. Some people are calling this Mountain Camp method, but I found information on it at Michael Bush’s site. You have to scroll quite a bit to find the dry sugar method.
That was also a bit messy, and the bees eat the paper where sugar water soaks into it. So now I’m doing sugar cakes, which are super easy to make. Jason made me a 1×4 box with 1/2 inch mesh stapled across one side. We put this on top of the hive cover with the hole in it, then put the sugar cakes on top of the mesh. Then we put the real top on the beehive. The bees can get to the sugar cakes from all sides and it is super easy to add more sugar cakes. This forum thread references how to make sugar cakes.
This seems to be working well for us, but we have a lot of open water on our property not too far from the beehives. It may not be a good solution where the beekeeper needs to provide water.
I realize you probably know all this, but maybe some other club members are looking for this kind of information, so I thought I’d share our experience.
So far our package is doing well, lots of brood cells, and I’m taking your advice to continue feeding until they are well established. I think we stopped too early last year and the hive was never very large. We are looking into a variety of ideas for protecting the hive in the winter so the bear does not get it again.
Below is a photo of the sugar cake method from The Outyard.