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01874 754412 Main UK Distributors of  BELGOSUC BEE FOODS, INVERTBEE SYRUP & FONDABEE CANDY Wyefield Apiaries Home Wyefield Apiaries

This can be used as a Winter/Early Spring feed and is even used in preference to syrup feeding by some beekeepers.  Ideal way to help provide insurance against colony starvation.

Supplied in individual boxes of either 5 x 2.5kg packs or 12 x 1kg packs.  Individual boxes can be sent to addresses throughout the UK mainland.  When a carriage charge of £7 per box for England and Wales is applicable.  Normally sold and distributed by pallet in batches of 14, 28, 42, 56 or 70 boxes (a full pallet).  Please contact us to discuss your actual requirements and cost.

For those beekeepers who have not yet used fondant as a bee feed the following extract of an article first published in the Welsh Beekeeper's Spring 2017 magazine is reproduced here by kind permission of the author Mr Wall Shaw.

Feeding Bees with Fondant

by Wally Shaw

The question as to whether it is a good idea to feed fondant to colonies seems to have echoed down the years and is still being asked today.

Many beekeepers adopt feeding fondant as a regular practice, often whether the bees actually need it or not, and despite the fact that no firm conclusion seems to have been reached about its safety - for the bees that is.  The crux of the matter is how the fondant was made.

I am sure that fondant made specifically for bees is safe and these are available under a range of trade names usually beginning with API---- or INVER----. These products actually come with the assurance that they contain low levels of hydroxymethylfurfurol (HMF).  They are made using a mixture of powdered sugar (sucrose) and an invert-syrup syrup that has been produced using the enzyme invertase (now called sucrase) without the use of heat or the addition of acid.

The baker's fondants that can be purchased over the counter in supermarkets or from a baker are a bit of all unknown quantity.  I have been unable to find out exactly how they are produced and this is probably because a range of methods are employed.  Most seem to involve the same process as the api-fondants, being a mixture of sugar and invert-sugar or the so-called corn-syrups (the latter being derived from starch).  The safety of these mixes for bees depends on how the invert-syrup was produced.

As usual, cost is a major factor and syrups produced by the use of acid and heat are often cheaper than those using the enzyme method.  Those produced by acid and heat will inevitably have a high level of hydroxmethylfurfurol (HMF).  This substance is toxic to bees, but is of no significance for human consumption. Baker's fondants may also contain other additives and these include flavours, starch, glycerine and some recipes include shortening (fats), none of which are suitable for bees.

Fondants made from recipes that appear in some beekeeping book and which involve the use of acid - usually tartaric acid or cream of tartar (which is potassium tartrate) - are a definite NO NO!  The end product will inevitably contain a high level of HMF which has been shown to cause dysentery and markedly shortens the life of bees.  Even alternative recipes not using acid, but heating sugar and water to a temperature of 114-1150oC will produce HMF.

This warning about the use of fondant to feed bees was stimulated by reading a short article in a past edition of BeeCraft (December 1963 to be precise) - that just happened to be lying around the house!  The author was non-other than Les Bailey (Rothampsted Experimental Station).  I can do no better than reproduce what he said about the use of what he called invert-sugar candy.

I have tested invert-sugar, made by the action of invertase, as a food for bees and compared it with invert-sugar made by the action of mineral acid on sucrose. The acid produced form is the only kind that has until recently been produced commercially for feeding to bees and I have already reported that it is unsuitable for this purpose.

The present tests were made as follows.  Caged bees were supplied ad lib with water and with 75% sugar solution made from (1) enzyme-produced invert sugar, (2) and (3) acid-produced invert sugar from two manufacturers and (4) honey.  There were 30 bees per cage and 5 cages per treatment. The cages were incubated at 300C.

The half-lives (time taken for the bees in the cage to die) of the bees in treatments (2) and (3) were 5 and 6 days whereas the half-lives of the bees in treatments (1) and (4) were at least 21 days.  Thus the enzyme-produced invert sugar appears to be suitable as a food for bees.

In vitro (laboratory) experiments are notoriously difficult to translate into the real world, ie. what would actually happen in a hive.  For example, in a hive, unless it is actually on the point of starvation, the fondant is unlikely to be the only source of food whereas in the cage experiment it was.  This might mean that the effects of HMF ingestion would be less dramatic in the hive but it could still shorten the lives of some of the bees and during the spring build-up (the time when fondant is usually fed) this could be critical.

In summary I would advise you not to make your own fondant by any of the recipes that involve the use of acid and/or heat.  If you want to use baker's fondant, try and find out how it was made and that does not contain any undesirable additives (and this probably includes any additives).  You can safely use any of the fondants that are sold specifically for bees - but they may cost a bit more.  Alternatively you can just place a 1/2 or 1kg bag of sugar over the feed-hole in the cover board.  A tear should be made in the side of the bag and the contents moistened with water - so that sugar does not pour out. The addition of a small amount of honey to the water (your own honey, not shop brought stuff) will help attract the bees to feed from it.  Working on the principle that the best spring feeding is done in the autumn, we have used this just twice in 30 years of beekeeping and then only to a limited number of colonies.