My four hives have achieved their target winter weights. I am considering feeding sugar cakes (as an extra insurance policy) when I wrap them up for the winter. It may not be necessary, but is there any downside or risk to the colonies?
What is your target weight? If you don't believe that is enough then increase your target. There shouldn't be any need to feed sugar cake. I winter hives two deep and a medium or all four mediums and have never had them run out of food. Fluke starvation now and then if they run out of feed on a frame and it's too cold for them to move to another frame but never run out of honey in the hive. The extra medium is certainly peace of mind if not overkill. The fall flow was long and heavy this year. Didn't even need to feed syrup.
Hello, I don't think there is a downside to having extra food available in the hives for wintering. That being said:
I tried it last winter and made a huge mistake. What I did was make up candy racks with the sugar sitting on parchment paper. I had the ends open for the bees to access the sugar, however they never did. I left the parchment paper on and it obviously blocked them from coming up directly from the cluster, and also blocked the moisture from softening the hard sugar.
Once you have let the sugar harden be sure to place it directly over the center and NO paper what so ever. Hopefully this helps. I lost 7 out of 9 hives last winter...there were other factors but not getting to the candy did not help. Good luck...Peter