API of the Month

Mathieu Domecq
Editor-in-chief of the API blog of the month

SIMAPI and BEECOME, the international beekeeping equipment fairs in France and Germany, are over. Those were wonderful events that brought together many beekeepers from all over France, Germany and beyond. Now it is time to get back to our beehives to feed the colonies with Apifonda candy (sugar paste). This month, I am going to present my methods for feeding beehives using sugar paste. How should you place it? How do you maintain the insulation? Then we shall take a look at honey sweets, a home-made recipe to share with the family!

Did you know that we are consuming more and more sweets: there has been a 2.3% increase in volume. All the major brands sell honey sweets. Beekeepers are starting to diversify their production by offering them too. Incidentally, a few French companies make sweets for you on a custom basis!

This month’s work

It is already the last month of the year! Once again, the season has gone by fast for beekeepers.

Here is a summary of the beekeeping work for December:

Position a loaf of sugar paste: although it is usually distributed at Christmas, in actual fact it is good to feed your beehives at the beginning of the month. Apifonda sugar paste will give your bees more accessible, digestible and economical reserves. Some beehives need it soon, others not. On my holding, I automatically put a 2.5 kg loaf of sugar paste in all my beehives, just above the cluster of bees. Remember to keep a close eye on your beehives’ reserves!

Cleaning the beehive: maintaining your beehives, clearing the brush around them, repainting them or checking the stability of the roofs… these are the beekeeper’s winter activities.

Waxing frames: why not start making your own frames? If you plan to make a lot of divisions next year, you will need waxed frames. Assembling a few frames will always be useful! Use wax sheets and a 24 V transformer for this task.

Apifonda, 2.5 kg bag
Apifonda, 2.5 kg bag

The honey flowers of the month: Christmas rose and white rocket

Feeding bees with sugar paste

At API, we have designed a sugar paste that melts, made from sugar beet. Thanks to its rapid absorption, the bees are supplied with nutrients throughout the winter.

Every beekeeper has their own way of feeding their bees with sugar paste. Getting started is not easy and it is logical to think that you just need to put the loaf of sugar paste in the feeder and the bees will work it out. That is not the case! They could die of hunger. Indeed, accessing the feeder is a dangerous step in winter when you are a bee. When the temperature has dropped to 14°C and the nights become frosty, the bees stay still in clusters.

To avoid exhausting your bees, this loaf of sugar paste should be placed just above the cluster on the head of the frames.

Another problem then arises: insulation… Remember that the centre of this cluster must remain at 35°C.

So to feed my bees while maintaining good heat reflection, here is what I do in my beehive:

First method

Before opening your beehive, you should make sure you have all the equipment at hand so that you do not take too long on the task. I start by removing the roof, insulation (apifoam), frame cover or feeder. Once it is open, you will see the cluster, placed at the front or back of your beehive depending on the colony. You then place the previously opened loaf of sugar paste upside down on the cluster. To open it, you must have torn the thin plastic on top with your frame lifter to give the bees access.

Once the sugar paste has been placed, cover the body with bubble wrap to insulate the hive. All you have to do is put the feeder upside down – so as to cover the thickness of the sugar paste – and put the insulation and roof back on. This will take less than a minute.

Second method

I start by removing the roof, insulation (apifoam), frame cover or feeder. Once it is open, you will see the cluster, placed at the front or back of your beehive depending on the colony. In this method, you place hive insulation – bubble insulating paper as for the garage – as a frame cover. You must have previously made a small 4 cm x 20 cm rectangular opening on one side. This opening will give access above the bees. The pierced side of this insulation must be positioned above the cluster (at the front or back of the beehive). Then place the loaf of sugar paste that you have opened, upside down, on this hive insulation.

In this way, your bees benefit from direct insulation, while having the sugar paste above them through the opening in the hive insulation. Close the beehive with the feeder upside down as in the first case and then put its roof back on.

One more partition? If, when you furtively open the hive, you find that the cluster is small and rather grouped more on one side of the beehive, leaving room for a space on the other, having a partition with you may be a good idea. In this case, remove a frame (one or two frames after it, which should be empty) to put this partition in place. The temperature will be better maintained and the colony will be more likely to get through the winter.

Making honey sweets

Why not make honey sweets forthe winter festivities? Here is a recipe to share with the family:


For six people, or about thirty sweets, you will need:
– 250 g sugar
– 50 g quality honey
– 100 g water (a little less if you prefer hard sweets)
– Icing sugar.

– A saucepan
– A cooking thermometer: the essential utensil for this recipe, if you do not want to have soft sweets.
– A baking tray: preferably covered with a silicone mat, or lightly oiled
– A spatula, or a round-tip knife or a tablespoon
– Scissors.


Making honey sweets is easy and takes just 15 minutes.

– Pour the ingredients into a saucepan: sugar, honey and water.
– Set the heat to low.
– Allow to heat up, without stirring, until the temperature rises to 160°C if you wish to have hard honey sweets or 140°C if you prefer soft ones.
– When the sugar starts to dissolve, stir gently until a quite consistent paste is formed.
– Using the cooking thermometer, check the temperature of the mixture as you go.
– Once the desired temperature is reached, turn off the heat.
– Immediately pour the mixture onto the baking tray.
– Use the spatula/knife/spoon to fold the mixture towards the centre, working from the top of the tray and the bottom.
– When the honey cools down and becomes less liquid, you can choose between two methods:

1/Roll the honey lengthwise into a 1 cm diameter roll. Using the scissors, cut the sweets into small pieces, the size that you would like. You can either roll them into small balls in your hands or leave them as they are.
2/Pour the mixture into small moulds. Fill them halfway if you do not wish to have large sweets. Leave to cool.

– Place your honey sweets on a plate of icing sugar, making sure that they do not touch each other.
– Roll them well in the sugar.
– Leave them to stand for one hour.
– And finally, put them in a glass jar or a box. They will be better preserved.

As usual, share your photos with us. They will be posted on our website from social media using the hashtag: #apifonda #apiinvert!

We shall be back next month on your API blog with your faithful partner, Les Ruchers De Mathieu!

Honey & Beekeeping Shop

Photos ©lesruchersdemathieu

Working bee