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Author Topic: Vinegar & stored Syrup  (Read 2758 times)
Hemlock
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« on: October 27, 2009, 06:36:33 PM »

SO if the bees are storing some of the syrup I feed them - what about the vinegar I put in it?  Can they indeed store/process the syrup if has vinegar or essential oils in it?

Also in Spring do they ONLY eat the syrup (after the dearth) or does some of that go for topping off the hive also?

AND will the bees actually stop taking the syrup when the hive is full?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2009, 08:26:36 PM »

Honey contains several organic acids naturally in varying amounts including, but not limited to, oxalic, malic, formic, ascorbic, citric and acetic.  These make the pH of honey more acidic than syrup.  So does the vinegar.

Essential oils, while not naturally in concentrated amounts are in honey in small amounts.  Still I would rather not use them as they are antimicrobial and the hive is dependent on may microbes for it's very existence.
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Michael Bush
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FordGuy
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2009, 09:40:39 PM »

Mr. Bush, please talk a little more about the microbial life inside a hive, I have never looked at it from that perspective. grin  very interesting!
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Hemlock
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2009, 10:24:34 PM »

I looked up (or tried too) the pH of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Everything I found stated the it's pH is Alkaline.  Nowhere could I find an actual reading.  So if I want to drop the pH of syrup ACV may be the wrong product.  The HEALTH sites went on & on about the advantages of ACV, which alone sounded good.  But if using it causes an imbalance in the hive pH there would be a problem.

Does anyone know for sure what the pH of Apple Cider Vinegar is?
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kedgel
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 11:52:02 PM »

I looked up (or tried too) the pH of apple Cider Vinegar.  Everything I found stated the it's pH is Alkaline.  Nowhere could I find an actual reading.  So if I want to drop the pH of syrup ACV may be the wrong product.  The HEALTH sites went on & on about the advantages of ACV, which alone sounded good.  But if using it causes an imbalance in the hive pH there would be a problem.

Does anyone know for sure what the pH of Apple Cider Vinegar is?
ACV is off the charts ACID as is all vinegar.  I tested some just for grins.  My color comparison chart only went to 5.0 and it was at least that or less.  As you know 7.0 is considered neutral so anything under 7.0 is acid.  If you made your own syrup using tap water, unless you are in one of the few areas that have acidic water, the Ph of your syrup is likely around 7.8, fairly alkaline.  Most tap water is between 7.4 and 8.0 because most deep aquafers are percolated through limestone which raises the Ph.  I've lived all over the country and most places I've lived the Ph is 7.8.  I'm guessing that's what your syrup is as well.  When aquarium water's Ph drops to around 5.0 the biological filtration stops working.  The same bacterial activity inhibition happens in honey for the same reason.  Bacteria will hardly grow in honey.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 06:41:03 PM »

Most of the research on the subject is by Martha Gilliam.  If you have access to a research library they can get you her studies.  Some of this research was also done in Sweden.

The bottom line is there are beneficial bacteria in the bees' gut that prevents things like Nosema and AFB.  There are also beneficial bacteria and yeasts that are necessary for fermentation of the pollen to make bee bread.  Pollen is indigestible to bees, and the fermentation is necessary for them to get nutrition from the pollen.  Anything that upsets the pH, such as sugar syrup instead of honey or organic acids; or antibiotics, such as Tylosin and Terramycin; or antimicrobials such as essential oils like Thymol or Lemongrass oil will upset the balance of the microbes in the hive.  And those microbes are not all beneficial and pathogenic.  They are a balance where sometimes they act as one or the other.  For instance, Ascosphaera apis which causes chalkbrood prevents EFB.  Aspergillus fumigatus which causes stonebrood prevents Nosema.
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Michael Bush
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2009, 08:33:36 PM »

Hey Michael, do you know if anyone has attempted to lower the PH of sugar syrup to match that of honey and measure it's effects on the microbial fauna within the honey gut?  It would be pretty easy to make the adjustment, and if you felt you had to feed because of an emergency situation might make it less problematic to do.
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Hemlock
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2009, 08:36:29 PM »

@ kedgel
Yes my well water is at 7.4.  But I wonder,  'how much ACV would I need to effect the pH of a gallon of 2:1 syrup'?  But if they are processing it into their honey it must come out right in the end, Yes?
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Hemlock
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 08:42:54 PM »

@ Michael Bush,
Are you suggesting that I should be feeding the girls honey instead?  I thought that practice spread FB.  But if I'm wrong I'm wrong,  I'm new to all this.
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gaucho10
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 09:39:43 PM »

Hemlock,
That practice of feeding honey to bees could spread FB if the honey came from a contaminated hive.  Think about it...feral bees eat their own honey don't they?

I have not feed sugar syrup to my bees for the past two years.  I just extract the honey in the "honey" supers and keep some to feed back to the bees.
The reason that I extract it is to help me keep tabs on how much honey the colony consumes.  Many people just don't extract ALL the honey but keep one or two "honey" suppers above the brood chambers to feed the bees during the winter months.  I feed the honey back to them using an inverted 1/2 gal bottle with small holes on the cap/cover.  When one bottle is empty I just place another and keep tabs on the count.  This bottle counting thing is just to give me a feel for predicting next year's honey consumption according to the colony strength/size, weather conditions, etc.  After 30 years of beekeeping I'm still learning grin
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Hemlock
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 10:27:28 PM »

@gaucho10,
So you are extracting honey from 'Honey Suppers' to feed back to the bees?  But you are NOT extracting the honey from the Brood hives (I say hives since I run double deeps). 

This could beat using sugar! 

1). Then you feed it to them early to top off store & through winter?
2). How much honey do you feed back to a single hive over the course of a winter?

aun Aprendo Indeed!
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gaucho10
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 10:48:53 PM »

Hemlock,

When the cold weather arrives here in New England and the honey flow is over the bees might still be going out and picking up pollen.  At this time I "might" still have some or all of my "honey" supers above my two brood chambers.  I then go ahead, on my free time, and extract the honey.  I do not touch any honey in the brood chambers.  That's their honey for the winter.

Every season is different depending on where you live, the weather conditions and the strength of the colonies.  I usually do not open my hives once the cold weather is here.  I do have an access hole on my upper ventilated cover where I can keep peeking into the hive and watching the movement of the bee cluster.  Usually, by mid to late winter, when the cluster gets smaller and their food diminishes the bees end up near the top of the upper brood chamber and near the ventilated cover 3" hole.  When I see this I take a bottle of honey and invert it to feed them.  Sometimes they take it right away and other times they hardly touch it.  Last year my colonies were taking honey during a period when the temperatures were below freezing.  On another day when the temps went up in to the 40's they slowed down.  I think that the reason for that is because they managed to go to an area of the brood chamber (below) where they had reserves or frames outside of their cluster with some left over honey.  This is all an assumption in my part.

Two of my colonies ended up taking (2) half gallons of honey last winter.  One of them took at least (2) half gallons and probably one more bottle but this was near the beginning of the honey flow and they were bringing in pollen.  I did not check the brood chambers so perhaps the colony that took more honey had fewer reserves.  Although I ended up with 3 strong colonies by mid summer, that colony that took the extra honey was actually a bigger/stronger colony.
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My favorite comedy program used to be Glenn Beck--The only thing is that after I heard the same joke over and over again it became BOOOORING.....

People who have inspired me throughout my life---Pee-wee Herman, Adolph Hitler, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck.
Notice I did not say they were people who I admire !!!
Hemlock
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2009, 11:12:17 PM »

By taking the honey off late the bees can fill their reserves before Fall/Winter.  I get it.  Unfortunately I'm in no position to do that this year.  Zero harvest.  I definitely have much to consider for next year.

Thank you to all who commented.  Dobry
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gaucho10
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 11:34:02 PM »

Hemlock,

I would not put it that way.  I am not saying that you HAVE TO take their honey late.  That is just a form of convenience.  Some people extract honey throughout the summer months but it is usually not feasible or worthwile.  Honey can be extracted as soon as the cells are sealed.  If you have many bee colonies you might not have the time to extract the honey supers immediately.  If you are into using an extractor it becomes a pain in the "horse" to extract a few frames and then wash your extractor only to do it again a short time later.  If you are into the crush-and-strain method  then you might want to do a small batch at a time.  I'm not into the crush-and-strain method so I can't advise you on that.

Also keep in mind that if you don't have any honey to harvest for yourself then you might want to check on your bee honey reserves.  If they don't have enough then you just might have to feed syrup or something else for fear of loosing your hive to starvation.
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My favorite comedy program used to be Glenn Beck--The only thing is that after I heard the same joke over and over again it became BOOOORING.....

People who have inspired me throughout my life---Pee-wee Herman, Adolph Hitler, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck.
Notice I did not say they were people who I admire !!!
Hemlock
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 12:09:22 AM »

check on your bee honey reserves.  If they don't have enough then you just might have to feed syrup or something else for fear of loosing your hive to starvation.


Yes this is my situation.  I have 2 hives.  They have both been taking syrup from hive top feeders.  One has slowed significantly in taking the syrup so tomorrow I am checking her reserves.  The other is still gulping it down.  I want the bees to have plenty stored but not be honey bound.  I have numerous issues with these hives the biggest being my inexperience.  But that is why I'm here.

Oh, and I spin my honey, or did last year (2008) when I had some.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 12:33:46 AM by Hemlock » Logged
Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2009, 04:34:58 PM »

>Hey Michael, do you know if anyone has attempted to lower the PH of sugar syrup to match that of honey and measure it's effects on the microbial fauna within the honey gut?

I have not heard of such an experiment, but I have heard of one in Sweden where they measured the microbial fauna in the gut on honey and on syrup.

>Are you suggesting that I should be feeding the girls honey instead?

I think you should LEAVE them honey.  But feeding them honey would help with the microbes, yes.

> I thought that practice spread FB.

That has been a thought, but I don't know that it's been proven. Besides if it's your honey and you don't have foulbrood...

Dee Lusby feeds barrels of honey back to her bees sometimes.  I have trouble with all the work involved in harvesting the honey and then turning around and doing all the work to feed it.  So I feed syrup if they don't have enough honey, but try to leave them the honey.
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Michael Bush
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bigbearomaha
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2009, 05:55:29 PM »

AS has been stated, it appears that feeding contaminated honey will spread AFB, if you have no contaminated honey, then you have nothing to spread.

In terms of feeding honey back to bees, even if it is not honey produced by that hive, is not that much of an issue as long as it isn't contaminated.  Bees rob other hives for their stores all the time.

Big Bear
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Finski
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2009, 02:41:44 AM »

.
Handling syrup with acids has been talked at least 50 years but normal sugar is the best way to feed bees.
Essential are pollen stores for autumn and for winter.

many have lost all they colonies when they have tried to feed "natural " sugar to bees
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Hemlock
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2009, 04:44:27 PM »

I am in the habit of leaving each hive with 2 deep brood boxes filled with honey (among other things).   Under optimum conditions (would I recognize Optimum if I saw it?) I would feed them in Fall to keep them out of their stores until Winter; prolonging their Winter reserves.  I believe, for now, this can be done safely with syrup or their own culled honey. 

So,
Would feeding the bees their own honey back be the same as leaving a honey laden shallow supper on top of the already honey laden double deep hive?  Although with no actual super the bees would need to maintain.  I ask this for 2 reasons:
1).  The Winters are moderate to mild here.  The bees get 'Fly Days' all 12 months.  (does this mean More or Less consumption)
2).  It begs the question; How much honey reserves are enough? 

It sounds like the Sugar vs. Honey argument is circular (I've read both Pro & Con for both of them) & the 'How much is enough' argument is a Slippery Slope (towards ALL of it).

I believe I'm beginning to see some of the nuances of Beekeeping because now I'm confused.  Wink
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2009, 07:49:15 PM »

Look at it this way.  Leaving honey is easier than harvesting it and then making syrup and then feeding it back... so it's a lot less work.

On the other hand, if you already harvested the honey, feeding it back wastes a lot of labor and a lot of honey.  It's less work and less waste, IMO to feed sugar syrup.  But I can't argue that the honey wouldn't be better for them.  I think it would.
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Michael Bush
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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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