I just made my first batch of candy cakes enriched with pollen substitute and I am very happy with the result.
For years I’ve been messing with pollen substitute in different formats. Many times I’ve tried making it into patties. Some of these patties got runny and dripped down between the frames. Some dried up and turned hard as hockey pucks. Some sprouted furry green mold. I’ve tried pressing them between disks of wax paper and rolling them in granulated sugar but nothing seemed to keep them palatable.
Last year, I mixed the substitute with heavy syrup and poured it into plastic zip bags which I split open like baggy feeders. Some of these got eaten and some grew the furry green stuff in the shape of an X, right where I cut the bag.
Then I read that you could mix pollen substitute into the sugar syrup when making candy boards or candy cakes. Thing is, I worried that the high temperature of the syrup would degrade the proteins, so I was reluctant to try it. Finally, I wrote to the makers of MegaBee and asked them about the heat problem.
I was quite impressed with the timely and thorough answer from MegaBee. According to the answer I received, they have sent the enriched hard candy to independent testing labs for analysis and found no significant degradation of the amino acids. They also provided me with an updated recipe for the boards which they say will stand up better to variations in ambient humidity.
Since I’m getting ready for spring build-up, I immediately mixed up a batch. It was easy to do and I actually liked the way it smelled—sort of malty. As soon as it was ready I poured the mixture into paper plates the same way I do when making plain candy cakes. I am eager to see how the bees react to it because it was much easier to handle than any of the messy preparations I made in the past.
If you try this, make sure you work quickly after you pour in the MegaBee because the mix will harden in mere moments. And just a reminder: use extreme caution when making candy. The mixture is very hot and could cause severe burns.