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OTS Queen Rearing
2016 Expanded Edition

Sugar Bricks: The Latest Innovation in Feeding


Sugar Bricks - Convenient in every way. A year-round feeding strategy that reduces starvation and increases overwinter success. Eliminates the mess of syrup. Contact Mel Disselkoen at International Mating Nuc, Inc. for more information or to order.

Introduction

Sugar bricks are a very convenient and user-friendly way to feed honeybee colonies, especially during the winter months. The ingredients in the sugar bricks are the same as has been used in time-tested candy boards. The difference is in how they are placed on the hive and the added convenience of being able to add or remove feed as needed. My observation of the bees working the sugar bricks is one of contentment, as G. M. Doolittle said, when there is "millions of honey at our house", the bees are contented.

I decided to supply sugar bricks to beekeepers as a convenient, reliable, and always available honeybee feed, particularly for overwintering stores. Sugar bricks are time consuming to make, as you have to heat the sugar to 242F without scorching and then pour into molds at the right temperature. Any self-reliant beekeeper can make their own sugar bricks but you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by purchasing them. Each sugar brick weighs approximately 3.5 lbs and you can get a box of 12 for $98 which comes to around 43 pounds of feed, shipped USPS Priority mail anywhere in the USA.


Overwintering

Sugar bricks are best positioned just above the winter cluster, which enables colonies to have instant and constant access to feed throughout the winter. I have watched many colonies survive the harshest of winters simply because they had sugar bricks on board and without theme they would have starved. This is significant when you consider that the Apiary Inspectors of America often report starvation as the major cause of winter loss. Sugar bricks can be given gently to a colony at any time during the winter without harming the cluster because bees heat the cluster and not the inside of the hive. This is similar to bee trees when heat escapes with good ventilation. I gently check my colonies occasionally during the winter to make sure there is enough feed.


Year-round feeding strategy

I use sugar bricks year round for my starts as they are so incredibly convenient to use, handle, and store. Sugar bricks don't drip which reduces robbing behavior in the apiary and automatically eliminates the mess of making sugar syrup. Any unused brick will be used to produce bees in the spring. I do use wet sugar for feed from time to time in the spring and summer but only when I don't have sugar bricks made ahead of time.


Applications

When using sugar bricks there is a 3" shell or shallow empty super placed on top of the bees and frames. A 1/2" hole is drilled in this shell for ventilation and for the bees to use as an upper entrance. The sugar bricks can be placed directly above the cluster without an excluder. If you use an excluder it should be shimmed 1/4" to maintain the bee space so that the bees can pass between the top bars and the excluder. An excluder delays and discourages the building of comb in this empty area if you don't check in time (see pictured examples).


"The art of beekeeping does not require full-strength hives at all times of the year, only during your surplus honey flows..." -Mel Disselkoen

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