1. Bake the cake at least a day before you plan to decorate it.
Note: If you know your baking isn’t cooked through but it’s looking crusty on top, carefully place a sheet of tinfoil on top of the cake. This will stop it from getting any darker on top but will allow the cake to continue cooking until it’s fully done.
2. Make the buttercream
Beat butter in an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, until the butter lightens in colour. Slowly add icing sugar in small batches (so it doesn’t fly out of the mixing bowl), beating in between until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Note: Start with room-temperature butter (not melted) and to beat with an electric mixer until the butter turns from a yellow to a white tone before adding icing sugar. If necessary, make buttercream in two batches, mixing together at colouring stage to ensure consistent colour.
Buttercream can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but bring it back to room temperature and beat again before using so it is as light, fluffy and soft as possible.
3. Colour buttercream by adding yellow colouring and mixing well until desired colour is reached.
4. Crumb coat the cake by applying a thin layer of buttercream with a palette knife or offset spatula to achieve a very thin, smooth finish (you should be able to see the cake through the icing). Never wipe excess crumb-coat icing back into the main bowl of icing as it will be full of crumbs and spoil the rest of the icing.
5. Refrigerate cake until dry to the touch.
6. Place the cake on the serving plate.
7. Pipe the beehive:
Fit the extra-large round piping tip to the piping bag and fill the bag with yellow buttercream. Starting at the base of the cake, pipe a full circle around the cake. Repeat, piping circles around the cake all the way to the top. Finish with a blob of piping at the top.
8. Make the bees:
Divide yellow fondant into 7 equal parts (10 g each), then roll them into oval-shaped bodies with your hands.
Thinly roll out black fondant with a rolling pin dusted with a little cornflour. Cut 7 lengths that are 7 mm wide and wrap one around the width of each yellow body. Trim off the excess fondant and secure it to the body with a dot of water.
Use a skewer to poke 2 small eyeholes at one end of each bee body and fill them with tiny rolled balls of black fondant.
To make the stingers, separate the remaining black fondant into 7 equal-sized cone shapes. Stick one to the back of each body with a little water and mould each into a spike.
To make the wings, thinly roll out the white fondant and punch out 14 small round circles about 1.5 cm in diameter (the open end of a piping tip works well). Pinch each circle to make a teardrop shape and stick 2 wings to the back of each bee, with the point of each teardrop together and facing forward.
9. Wind one end of each piece of floral wire around a pen 3–5 times, keeping the rest of the wire straight. Carefully push the curled end of the wire into the underbelly of each bee and insert the straight end deep into the cake for support.
10. Add the buzzy bees to the cake on the day you serve it to prevent the wire from flopping overnight. Make sure the wire is inserted deeply into the cake to hold the weight of the bee.