by Tanya Tolchin
I found my husband standing at the stove today dumping white sugar into a giant canning pot and rooting around for the elusive tiny jar of cream of tartar. He was making his first fondant, armed with a circa 1921 recipe and a candy thermometer. Fondant is that smooth white frosting you see on wedding cakes. You might consider the date, February 14th and assume he is preparing a wonderful Valentine ’s Day delicacy inspired by the Ace of Cakes.
In fact, he is preparing the fondant for his three beehives. This late in the winter, many bees have depleted their winter stores of honey and the hive could be weakening just when the bees need to be getting ready for a strong spring. And if they sense their stores are too low, they might start to die off and/or decide to swarm ( jump ship en masse) leaving you with a sadly empty hive and no hope of honey in July.
How would it change the great white sugar vs. honey debates if people knew that beekeepers regularly help their hives make it through the winter with white sugar? It shouldn’t really, soon our bees will be foraging for actual pollen from Tulip Poplars and Bradford Pears. But for now they will have to subside on something less wholesome, a sugary Valentine’s Day treat. Happy Valentine’s Day to all bees and the rest of us!