Among the many interesting things I picked up in beekeeping class was a method of making sugar syrup that I have found applicable to a lot more uses than beekeeping. Previously, I had always made sugar syrup by heating sugar and water in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly, until all the sugar dissolved. This trick is much quicker and usually has less clean-up.
I make sugar syrup for three purposes: 1) to make sugar syrup to feed my bees, 2) to make sugar syrup to fill my hummingbird feeder, and 3) to make simple syrup to sweeten cold beverages. Ever noticed how granulated sugar doesn’t really want to dissolve in a cold drink? You can heat the beverage, dissolve the sugar, and then re-cool before serving, but this only works if everyone who will be drinking it likes the same level of sweetness. When I make sun tea I like to drink it straight, but Matt likes to sugar the hell out of it. Simple syrup is the answer. Because it’s already dissolved, you just stir it into your drink like you would cream in your coffee. Simple syrup is made at a 1:1 ratio, just like my bee-feeding syrup, which means that you use equal parts sugar and water. To feed hummingbirds you use a 4:1 ratio, or four parts water to one part sugar.
Step 1: Put the kettle on to boil and measure your sugar. If the mouth is wide enough to accommodate stirring, I put the sugar directly into the container I want the syrup in, such as a quart mason jar for my bees or a half-pint jar for simple syrup. My hummingbird feeder has a very narrow neck, so I put my sugar into a Pyrex® measuring cup since it has a hand-dandy spout.
Step 2: When the water comes to a boil, pour it over your sugar.
Step 3: Stir until the mixture is crystal clear.
Let it cool to lukewarm or room-temperature before giving it to bees or hummingbirds and keep it in the fridge if you’re using it to sweeten drinks.
If you made the syrup in the final container you now have only to dry the measure you used for the water, and wash the sugar measure and spoon.