A Nervous Beekeeper *Now with* Lip Balm

Scowling Alex
Scowling Alex

As I spend my evening with my wife, Melissa, at the emergency room, a fleeting thought danced across my head: computer coding, being mostly solitary, tending bees and being an assistant-lord to a flock of chickens suits me well. Being an E.R. nurse, doctor, tech, assistant, or otherwise would put me on edge. I am a bit on edge now just sitting here. Too much commotion, too much movement. This is not to say that these are not valuable societal occupations; it is just not a work field that would suit me. Besides, I trend toward sweating the small things, and being generally nervous. These are not qualities that would put a patient in duress at ease.

In an Andy Rooney-like fashion, I digress.

The weather here in Northern Minnesota, and all of Minnesota for that matter, has been warm. Too warm for early January. I worry, of course, about the bees that are tucked away in their hives. Too warm, and the queens will begin to lay eggs (brood). This would lead to more mouths to feed and the chance of food-stores being burned through too quickly; extra winter feeding on our part would be needed else we run the risk of having bees starve and die.

We are hoping to make a nearly-all cane sugar fondant for winter feeding. The recipe is ultra simple: water, granulated cane sugar, and cane syrup. 2:½:2 = Two cups of granulated sugar; ½ cup of water; 2 tablespoons of syrup. This should scale linearly. You will also need waxed paper or butchers’ paper for which to put the finished product as well as a candy thermometer to gauge the stage of the product while it boils.

Scowling Alex
Scowling Alex

Put all ingredients into a sauce pan or appropriately sized vessel; put the pan over medium heat with a lid. Dissolve all the granulated sugar and bring the mixture to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the lid, and using the thermometer, heat until things are at 240 degrees F (116 degrees C). Pour the liquid onto the waxed paper or butchers’ paper and let cool for a few minutes; long enough to start to stiffen. When it is cool enough to be touched, you can work it into the shape you would need.

We like to sometimes fill empty honey super frames with the fondant. It makes for easy handling and easy deployment.

Lip Balm
Lip Balm

Unfortunately, I will be away for the weekend; no checking the hives this week and no whomping up fondant. Perhaps a midweek whomping and a feeding next weekend.

We did, however, do a small bit of whomping with almond oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, a bit of rosemary oil and water; we made lip balm. It turned out quite well. Very simple. Recipe for another day.