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Author Topic: FEEDING FRESH BROWN SUGAR TO BEES  (Read 1373 times)
House Bee
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Location: Franklin, Louisiana

« on: January 14, 2009, 08:06:42 PM »

Has anyone ever used fresh brown sugar direct from the sugar mill to feed their bees? I was fortunate to get a large supply from my local sugar mill and am able to get more if needed. Great price ($00.00). Does anyone have any experience with using fresh brown sugar in either liquid or dry feedings of their bees. I would like to try using it to feed my bees early this spring to help build them up sooner, but am not sure if it is OK to use. I don't see why it would not work, it is just fresh sugar that is not totally refined to be the white color.
My bees work the area arround my town that includes hundreds of acres of sugar cane fields. I would appreciate any suggestion that everyone would have on the use of the fresh brown sugar from the local mill. Thanks BEEMAN
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Galactic Bee
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Location: Walker, La.


« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2009, 08:26:56 PM »

this is a quote from one of MB's post before

Refined white granulated sugar works fine. Beet or cane both are fine. Brown sugar will give them dysentery.

me and MB (Michael Bush) dont always agree on some things but I have never tried to feed it but he might have, he's been around for almost a century  tongue , trust what he said about this, it aint worth the chance to find out for yourself when he might have done tried it  Wink


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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2009, 08:36:57 PM »

I hate to be a party pooper.  Free sugar is hard to turn down, but brown sugar (like you buy in the store) has molasses added back to it.  If you're talking just raw sugar, it still has the molasses in it, sort of.  Molasses is not good for bees.  At best they'll get dysentery.  At worst they die.

Personally I wouldn't use it at all, but if you really want to, I would use it only in moderation and only at times when they can freely fly to defecate.  My bet is it will shorten their lives even then.

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Galactic Bee
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Location: Lewisberry, PA

« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2009, 10:27:32 PM »

MB, hit the key point. Feed it when bees can fly. Spring feeding, and even summer feeding when building colonies would be best. No way would I feed it in the fall.

If you think about it, bees get into all kinds of stuff. And I know one location of mine that the bees get into the cattle feed bin for the molasses that's on the grain, and I see no problems. Bees will collect from soda bottles, garbage bins, and many things. They are great processors of all types of sugars, and are known to go after brackish water, and do just fine. But they can only naturally collect what they can process. So what's in the hive has been filtered.

When you put it in the hive beyond that natural threshhold, that is when problem happen, IF they can not fly.
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Field Bee
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2009, 07:54:30 AM »

From George Imirie:

Just about anything sweet has been tried by bee- keepers over many years, and here are the names of some: honey, table sugar (sucrose) syrup, hi-fructose corn syrup, coke syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, candy, and just plain dry sugar. With the exception of table sugar syrup, all of the other items mentioned above, have some problem that may not make them desirable feed for honey bees. Honey may contain bacteria or disease pathogens (and probably does if it came from a commercial packer), hi-fructose corn syrup is made by chemically converting potato starch into glucose followed by converting glucose into fructose, and coke syrup, molasses. pancake syrup, and candy all contain some ingredients that provide the taste characteristic to the product. All of these products except plain sugar syrup contain components such as starches or sugars other than sucrose that may present problems for bees, notably dysentery. Plain table sugar is SUCROSE, just as in nectar, and is totally digestible by the bee which converts the sucrose into the two simple sugars of fructose and glucose, which are the sugars contained in honey. When 1 pound of sugar is dissolved in 1 pound of water (same as 1 pint), that is referred to as 1:1 sugar syrup, and is considered artificial nectar by the bees which stimulates brood rearing. When 2 pounds of sugar is dissolved in 1 pound of water, that is referred to as 2:1 sugar syrup, and is quite similar to honey and is used for winter storage rather than nursery feed. Even though you might save money by purchasing hi-fructose corn syrup, coke syrup, or be given candy refuse or other sweet products, there is little question that table sugar syrup is the safest food you can give to bees and hence table sugar makes the BEST FEED!


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Field Bee
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 08:05:29 AM »

while i have been taught that the bees should be fed with granulated sugar, most farmers here use brown sugar with no problem. Granted it may be for a shorttime only and the bees are not restricted from flying but i have not heard of, nor experienced any problems with the brown sugar.
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2009, 05:50:01 PM »

while i have been taught that the bees should be fed with granulated sugar, most farmers here use brown sugar with no problem. Granted it may be for a shorttime only and the bees are not restricted from flying but i have not heard of, nor experienced any problems with the brown sugar.

Sean, the point here is, you live in an area where bees have free flight year around whereas most of us in the states have little to no flight time during the winter solace.  the difference is that the disentary effect of the molasses content in the brown sugar is lethal if free flight is not available.  Also in your area it may work to feed the bees brown or raw sugar but I'd bet a scientific study would show noticably high death rates of bees raised on it.  Again, since you live in an area with year around free flight, forage, and brood rearing ability the short life span is most probably not noticable.

Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
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