The mountain camp method (a term coined from an online chat group user name) is an easy and quick way of adding dry sugar directly to your hive so bees can access food when they cluster together.
These materials help control moisture in the hive by absorbing condensation, making them easy to monitor during periods of dearth.
Sugar is a carbohydrate, meaning bees can use it as energy source and use it to feed their bees inside or outside the hive via feeders.
Sugar in hives is typically placed atop a sheet of paper (known as the Mountain Camp Method after its creator shared it in Beesource community), wet lightly or not at all so it adheres securely. Bees then come up and consume or store some for later consumption or storage in cells.
Outside of the hive, sugar syrup should be placed in upside-down jars or pails with perforated lids so bees can access it by sucking through holes. You could also create pollen substitutes like high-carbohydrate fondant known as candy boards to feed bees when temperatures remain too cold to open the hive and feed with liquid feed.
Many beekeepers employ some form of solid winter feed such as winter patties, candy boards and fondant in January and February when it becomes too cold for syrup, to slow the growth of brood nests too quickly. This practice serves to protect bees’ health.
Candy boards resemble shallow supers and are filled with sugar. In addition, you can purchase an inner cover with wintering properties that also acts as a candy board mold.
This recipe for making candy board sugar is straightforward and uses vinegar as an anti-fungal agent (which I frequently do). Add water/vinegar gradually while stirring after each 1/2 cup to prevent mold formation in winter and mildew growth in mildew-prone colonies. Add this sugar late in winter when their stores have dropped below minimum levels, or as an emergency back up when feeding pollen patties.
Frame feeders (sometimes referred to as division boards) are plastic feeders designed to replace one of the frames inside of a brood box and provide syrup, nutritional additives and water source during spring and fall seasons.
Mountain Camp was initially introduced on beekeeper chat groups under the screen name Mountain Camp and has quickly become a favorite method of feeding bees. Easy and cost-effective, using dry sugar rather than expensive fondant or bricks of sugar, Mountain Camp provides beekeepers with an effective feeding alternative that works.
It will reduce robbing, plus provide comfort to bees during cold weather. Furthermore, this model features a wood cap system to provide rigidity and exclude bees while inner ladders limit how much syrup each bee can access at one time.
Ready-Made Winter Feed
Bees visit many flowers during the summer months to collect resources such as pollen (an essential protein source for rearing young) and nectar to build honey stores in capped cells that will sustain them through winter; colonies that don’t have sufficient stores may require supplemented feedings.
Some beekeepers employ the “mountain camp method,” in which dry sugar is placed directly onto a cluster hive with water spraying over it to help it clump together, or bought as sugar bricks or winter patties from their supplier. Clumped sugar is less likely to be removed by bees and easily accessible from above the hive.
Winter patties are fondant-based foods rich in carbohydrates with some small protein particles added, designed to prevent queens from raising too many brood early in the spring season. These are often placed on hives around December before temperatures become too cold to open them up again.