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Author Topic: Sugar water... good or bad?  (Read 4603 times)
WisdomIsBeautiful
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« on: June 08, 2006, 12:58:31 PM »

Hi,

This is my first year beekeeping and I don't have that much experience.  I started with one hive and I'm feeding my bees sugar water.  A couple of days ago a I came across an article about bee keeping, which said that sugar water weakens bees immune system.  I was wondering how some of you feel about that and what's best for the bees?

Thanks,
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Joe
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2006, 01:17:54 PM »

I usually feed new colonies one or two gallons of sugar syrup to get them started and then allow them to gather their own nectar after that.  In early fall I like to feed again to make sure that my bees have enough food stores to last the winter. I have heard that some beekeepers will feed sugar syrup to their hives around the time they intend to gather combs from the supers so that the bees don't feel inclined to uncap and eat the honey in them, but I have never done so.

As far as my liking sugar syrup, I do. It's a good tool to have, just don't over do it.  I'm not sure if it weakens the bees immune systems or not, but I do know that if you continue to feed that the bees will fill the brood nest with thickened syrup and the queen will have nowhere to lay and that will slow your colony down quite considerably.
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Scott Derrick
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2006, 08:52:29 PM »

I have a few growing hives that are swarms I caught.  I have been feeding syrup to help with the drawing out of the new frames that I inserted into the hive body. I have made it a policy now that when I put on my second deep super that I take off the syrup.
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pdmattox
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2006, 09:22:01 PM »

Right now I'm feeding some syrup to some hives that have new foundation and to the couple of weak hives I have because of the continuing draught we have been having.  Not sure if it is good or bad but seems to be helping the bee's.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2006, 10:15:32 PM »

Go to The BeeKeeper's voice www.beekeepersvoice.com and read when not to feed bees.  The problem with excessive feeding isn't so much that it affects the bees immune system but that it forces the bees to fill comb with sugar syrup instead of using it for growing more bees.  This is the exact opposite of what is needed.  
More bees make more bees and more honey.
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pdmattox
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2006, 10:45:56 PM »

nice web site and good info.
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Summerbee
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2006, 09:27:02 AM »

I feed my bees sugar syrup in winter, most around here swear by High Fructose Corm syrup.  But I think, if you can, it's much better for them to live off of their own honey, with the enzymes and whatnot.
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Finsky
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2006, 10:04:34 AM »

Quote from: Summerbee
 But I think, if you can, it's much better for them to live off of their own honey.


That is not true. Bees live splended with sugar. Here in Finland they must live with sugar 9 months.  Further more wintered bees die soon after new bees emerge in spring.  

Honey has only energy and pollen has valuable nutrietients and vitamins.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2006, 11:34:46 PM »

I don't know of any studies on the subject directly but the pH of sugar and the pH of honey are radically different.  How this affects the bees, the diseases (such as chalkbrood) is unknown at this time.  But chalkbrood cannot live in the acidity of honey and can reproduce fine in the alkalinity of sugar syrup.
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WisdomIsBeautiful
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2006, 01:02:09 AM »

Thanks for replies, I guess I'm going to have to hit some books and see if I can find some more info.  

I fed my bee's two gallons of sugar water in the last month and I think that's enough to start them off and don’t think I will ever feed them sugar water again.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2006, 05:41:03 AM »

2 gallons is plenty--they've got a nice start.  Feeding is often necessary; the key is not to over feed, which can cause a whole set of problems of its own.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2006, 03:00:58 PM »

I use syrup in the spring to strengthen a weakened colony, and when starting new packages. It helps tremendously by giving them a boost before the pollen flow and local bloom. But I'm leary of anything thats not natural, for myself and my bees. Lets face it, sugar is intensley processed - very far removed from its natural state. We're fooling ourselves thinking there a little if any side effects on ourselves, let alone the bees. See what the average kid looks like today and how much sugar and high fructose corn syrup their diets contain?
One of the reasons I keep bees is that it brings me back to a more environmental approach to life. I unplug, spend more time outdoors, I interact with a creature that still witholds its secrets, which causs me to see so much more of the natural world around me. I follow a tradition that's thousands of years old, and I use honey in place of any white sugar consumption in my foods. Lots of studies show that our immune systems get weakened by processed foods, so why expect the bees to be unaffected? But I could never feed them my honey stores!! That would really hurt me!
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latebee
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2006, 06:40:02 PM »

Guess I will toss my two cents in here-Sugar syrup is a good thing for a few situations

                      1) Starving bees
                     
                      2) Feeding packages to help them draw
                          comb on foundation                          

                      3) To administer medication if it is warranted
                          (fumidil or fumigillan)


 Otherwise as its been mentioned here before, the colony will hoard it causing congestion in the brood area,or curing it in your honey supers,niether of which is desirable.
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2006, 09:21:42 PM »

Here is something another beek told me he is doing. He has added a small amount of vinigar to his sugar water. It brings the PH closer to honey and keeps it from molding....

hmmmmmmmmmmm... Any thoughts?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2006, 04:32:58 AM »

That's been around as long as I've been a beekeeper--doesn't everybody do that?  2 Tbsp to a gallon of syrup goes a long way in keeping the mold from blooming and the bees seem to take the syrup better too.
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Joe
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2006, 02:07:09 PM »

I have never heard of adding vinegar to my syrup but I'm definatly going to give it a try.  Any prefernece as to white or cider vinegar?
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Finsky
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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2006, 05:57:37 PM »

In Finland we use to take honey away in autumn and we give 40 lbs sugar for winter. Bees need no acid in winterfood.

If you give sugar for winter it has nothing to do with chalkbrood.

I even did not know chalkbrood 30 years but then I start to give pollen patty in spring. Same time varroa come into hives.

I saw every year some mummies but I thought that they are molded pollen.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2006, 11:26:50 PM »

Cider Vinegar is what I've found works best.  Vinegar is not necessary but it does change the ph of the syrup to what is more in tune with nectar.  Some swear by using it, others are indifferent, and many (I guess) have never heard of it.
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AdmiralD
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« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2006, 01:08:22 AM »

We used to call it "Karo Syrup", but isn't that fruitose syrup? Can bees use that? Even if it is straight from the bottle?
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Finsky
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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2006, 04:33:05 AM »

I read somewhere that corn syrup is used much to bees because it is cheap. It is not so good as normal sugar.

But here are 150 pages one year old information about bee feeding.
http://www.rirdc.gov.au/reports/HBE/05-054.pdf
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