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Candy Board - click on images to enlarge
I lost my first hive most likely to starvation and a little insurance was in order. I decided on a candyboard December thru spring and and I tried a typical cooked hard candy sugar with a soy flour and Brewers Yeast brick embedded into it. The photo on the right is one of two boards I made up. One was completely consumed and the one the right was removed in April. Both hives either consumed or tossed out the soy/yeast bricks. I did not see any soy residue, so I assume they consumed it. This particular configuration requires some wood spacers between the candy board and top frames to prevent sagging onto the top of the frames. This has worked well and I have not lost any hives to starvation since I begin using them.
Next thing I did was re-engineer the board. The 45 degree corners and tucking the #4 hardware cloth inside the frame needed to be simpler. The easier way was to square cut the side 1x2's to length, tack or screw them together, cut a piece of #4 hardware cloth to size, staple the cloth and run a bead of Gorilla Glue around the perimeter, then tack a 3/8 inch x 3/4 strip over the hardware cloth to give some bee space between the frames and candy board. I used Gorilla Glue because it foams up and expands filling the areas around the hardware cloth, making it air tight. Use a cross piece in the middle side to side, stapling the hardware cloth to the cross piece to prevent things from sagging onto the tops of the frames. This is simple construction and does not require any special tools to build. I also drill a hole in the front the size of cork to provide ventilation. If it gets extremely cold, I can put the proverbial cork in it till it warms up. I use a whisky bottle cork because it has a plastic cap on it making it easy to insert and remove. They also make good smoker plugs. In retrospect, you can buy assembled candy boards for about $15, so unless you just into building things, buying is probably the better option.
My purpose is to insulate, absorb water, and make it easy to consume. If the bees go thru the board's contents, mix some up in a cake pan and replace the sugar as a brick. Because this contains a lot of air, it can be cut and molded to size without much effort. Once you have your board or brick made up, set these aside to firm up, generally a day or two. It will turn into a somewhat stiff but pliable product thats easy to handle. One caveat, ask the cook if you can use the mixer first! Stirring 50 pounds of sugar and corn syrup is a little hard on it. On the flip side, this beats cooking 50 pounds of sugar into candy any day. You could probably do this by hand, but a good mixer will put more air into it.
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