Friday, March 9, 2012

Bee Candy and Bee Tea Recipes

Many Thanks to Alton Earnhart for sharing the following directions:
I have been warned about offering syrup when it is still too cold, but am just sure they need whatever they can take in when it's warm enough. The bee candy is safer when still cold.

For 1 batch bee candy and one batch 2 qts., Bee tea.

I would offer the following tool list. Four or five quart pan with heavy bottom if possible, measuring cup, a candy thermometer, wisk, two cookie sheets, and parchment paper.

Have on hand 7lbs. Of white sugar, 1 bag chamomile tea, and if possible cider vinegar of good quality or skip this ingredient, dash salt.

1 pint white sugar = 1lb. In the USA, And 1pint H2O=1lb. The world around.

Make yourself a couple of cups of chamomile tea using the one tea bag, and put 4oz. Of the tea in your measuring cup. If you have an ounce of good quality cider vinegar like Braggs, add that to the measuring cup. To the tea and vinegar add 11 ozs. H2O (Should now be 1 pint or 16 ozs. of liquid) and pour into the pan. Add the dash of salt. Situate the candy thermometer so you can read it very accurately on the side of the saucepan. On a med. High heat bring the water to simmer and begin adding the sugar while stirring with the wisk. Allow to boil, with the goal being to dissolve the 5 pints of sugar into the liquid in the pan and bring this to 238 degrees F. No more or the candy is too hard, no less or the candy is too soft, but know this because you will want to learn for the next time to do better, depending on the accuracy of the thermometer. At reaching 238 degrees remove from heat while still constantly stirring, and allow to cool to 190 degrees, and then pour onto the parchment paper on the cookie sheets. I have the cookie sheets on cooling racks with parchment paper ready before starting.

Whether too hard, too soft or just right, determines mostly how you can handle easily or not so easily the candy placement directly over the frames in the top of the hive. The bees of course prefer you get it just right, but they can work the real world as well as you and I. I have made myself 1 1/2" thick hive spacers to place on top of the hives, (this allows the space for the candy, and if you can get ahold of tongue depressors or small sticks to put under the candy) above which I placed the inner cover, and I also placed an empty shallow super to feed bee tea when it gets a little warmer. Then I have a second inner cover over the shallow super, and 1 section of folded newspaper on top of that, and then the outer cover. I think you could get away without the second inner cover at the top, but even a piece of cardboard would help keep the cold metal top and warm inner air from dripping down.

So now you have a sticky saucepan and wisk, and 2lbs. Of sugar and maybe even a little tea left. Make the bee tea to have for mid to late ? May, maybe April this year? You can clean up the saucepan and wisk of the sticky candy left on them. You will make a 1:1 sugar to tea-water mix. That means the liquid portion will be 2 pints or 32ozs. If you haven't already drank the remaining 12ozs. Of tea from before, begin with that, if you drank it make some more as before, 1 bag for two cups. Add 20 ozs. Of water to the 12 ozs. Of chamomile tea. In the saucepan bring the liquid to a boil. If you have a tablespoon or two of thyme you can add that too. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add the 2lbs. Of sugar slowly enough to dissolve well.

All this requires about an hour and a half from the time you have assembled everything until done with making the bee tea. By the time you finish the bee tea the candy should have cooled enough to remove the parchment paper and candy from the cookie sheets and cooling racks so you can clean everything up and be done.
On March 8, Alton sent: "Here is the pix of the hive from this morning with the candy in the hive spacer I made"
lucky bees! Thank you Alton!