Bee Nutrition

As with most tasks in beekeeping, there are multiple ways to achieve the same result, the following recipes are no different. There are many recipe variations available in print and online. The recipes offered here are basic suggested recipes and are not definitive.

Fondant Patty (Candyboard)

This recipe will make 3, 1 ½ lb. patties and can easily be doubled.


  • 4 lbs. granulated sugar 16 oz. water
  • ¼ cup bee pollen (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Honeybee Healthy (optional)

Prepare molds in advance. You can use paper plates, pie pans, or any pan that will fit under the lid of the hive. Spray the mold lightly with oil and place on a flat, heat-proof surface.

Add the water to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Pour in the sugar, stirring until it is completely dissolved. If the sugar does not dissolve, add a little more water until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, increase the temperature to medium high. Do not stir. Insert the candy thermometer.  

Boil the mixture until the thermometer reads 234° F (adjustments for elevation along the Wasatch Front will require you to bring the temperature to 238-240° F). Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool until the mixture reaches 210° F. You can test the sugar syrup when you remove it from the heat to make sure it reached the proper temperature. Place a drop of the sugar syrup into a glass of cool water. Once cool, place the sugar between your fingers and the drop of candy should be slightly pliable and flatten out between your fingers.

Once the candy reaches 200 to 210° F, pour into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and slowly beat the mixture. Alternatively, you can beat the mixture with a hand mixer. This will add air to the mixture and the color of the candy will change from clear to white and will crystallize. Beat until the mixture is smooth and light in color.

When the temperature of the candy reaches 175° F, add the pollen and the Honeybee Healthy, if using. The pollen adds protein and fat to the mixture and the Honeybee Healthy contains lemongrass and spearmint oils that are attractive to bees and act as a feeding stimulant.

Divide the mixture onto 8-10 dinner-sized paper plates and allow it to cool completely. Once cool, you can wrap the fondant in plastic or wax paper and store in a cool, dry location for several weeks. For longer storage, wrap and place in the freezer. Remove from paper plate or mold before placing in the hive.

The fondant patty should be placed on top of the frames in the top brood box of the hive. It should be made thin enough to close the lid of the hive, paper plates work well for gauging the thickness of the board. If the patty extends to the edges of the box it is unlikely that the bees will eat it. The circular paper plate shape puts the patty in the center of the box, reducing waste around the edges of the box.

Pollen (Protein) Patty

Makes a single patty.

This is often used to feed and supplement bees through the winter and late spring. Instead of just carbohydrates, pollen patties feed the bees carbohydrates and protein and fat. This is important when bees are raising brood. Bees that are getting adequate protein are rearing drones, and you can easily assess the amount of drone brood during hive checks when weather is above 55° F. The addition of pollen patties will boost brood production and build hive populations creating strong hives.


  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pollen powder or pollen substitute
  • 1-2 drops Honeybee Healthy

Mix together sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Add pollen and mix until you get a consistency of wet peanut butter, add Honeybee Healthy. Drop the mixture onto wax paper and fold the wax paper over. Smooth out the patty under the paper.

Store in the refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for several months, unthaw before placing in hive. When placing in the hive, this must be placed under the top board and in contact with the frames for the bees to access it. It should be placed directly in the center of the frames and not to the side to encourage feeding.

Grease Patty

Makes several patties.

Grease patties are used to treat tracheal mites and are placed directly on top of the frames and close to the brood. Bees do not like the grease and will work to move it out of the hive, essentially coating themselves in the greasy substance that smothers the mites lodged in the tracheal openings along the abdomen of the bee and are usually a problem in the winter months. Adding mineral salts will help to increase access to minerals that may not be accessible to bees in the winter months. Tracheal mites are not common in Utah, but if an infestation is thought to be possible, have bees tested, and treat according to results. Treatments should occur in the spring and fall.


  • 2 lbs. solid vegetable shortening
  • 3 lbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb sugar water syrup (2:1) or honey
  • 1/3 cup pulverized mineral salt
  • 3 tbsp. wintergreen essential oil

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Split into ¼ cup portions and place on wax paper. Fold wax paper over and freeze until needed.

Homemade Honeybee Healthy

Honeybee Healthy is a commercial product that is designed as a feeding stimulant that is easy to make at home. The essential oils in the recipe are attractive to bees and can help encourage them to visit and feed. This can be added to pollen patties, fondant patties, and can be used to feed bees directly as a 1:1 sugar syrup.


  • 5 cups water
  • 2 ½ lbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. lecithin granules
  • 15 drops spearmint essential oil
  • 15 drops lemongrass essential oil

Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add the lecithin. Allow to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, add the essential oils. This should be stored tightly capped in a cool location.


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