Is Sugar better?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by brooksbeefarm, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    An old time beekeeper told me that he read in a bee journal a few years ago, that sugar water was a better feed for bees than honey :confused: . That sugar was totally digestible to bees,where as some honey can cause diarrhea. Any truth to this?? Jack
     
  2. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    no too many indigestable ingrediants, while will do when honey isn't available, even hfcs seems to be a good alterative, sugar syrup has been a mainstay for quite some time, but really isn't good for the bees for long-term feeding, as a brood stimulant is fine.
    Barry
     

  3. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    As a new beekeeper, maybe I don'k know as much as some of the old-timers, but it seems to me that if Mother Nature intended for bees to eat sugar syrup-they would be making it instead of honey. After all-they've had thousands of years to perfect it.
     
  4. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    As an afterthought, I have a question for more experienced folks. Can sugar syrup be stored? If so, does it need to be refrigerated? I only have the capacity to make a gallon or so at a time, but am on the road all week. If I can store some, my wife can put in the top feeders this fall. Thanks.
    Rodger
     
  5. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    No real experience with storing sugar syrup for feeding, but for liqueur-making I've tried storing boiled sugar syrup (1 liter of boiling water + 1 kg sugar) and wouldn't call it a success. After a while (with no refrigeration) it became mouldy. Probably 1 week wouldn't be tragic, but I wouldn't try anything long term. The source of the mould was probably the unsterilized bottle.
     
  6. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    If the honey comes from healthy hives, it shouldn't cause any trouble. Considering the possible other disease bacteria that infected honey could pass on, I would say that diarrhea is a small time concern.
    But nutrition-wise, there's no doubt that honey provides more of what the bees need.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the research to answer this question has been 'done' so many times that 'the conclusion' is extremely 'robust'. as feeds go (the energy end of the feed bucket for honey bees that is) feeds always score out in the following fashion.... #1 plain old table sugar #2 honey and #3 high fructose corn syrup.

    in the old days (long before my time and when no one fed table sugar to bees) folks that over wintered hives in the northern US in cellar learned to place the clearest honey on hives for their stay in the cellars. this (like table sugar) produced the least problems with digestion problem in bees.

    in almost any kind of feeding regime a great deal of the syrup get stored and reduced (water content). once processed by the bee and once the water content is reduced I would suspect (yep don't absolutely know???) you would have difficulty in distinguishing this from 'real honey'.
     
  8. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Tec:
    The two of us might have difficulty in distinguishing BUT:
    1. Sugar honey is not honey!
    2. Sugar honey does not have the fragrance of floral honeys
    3. Lab equipment tests CAN spot the difference (telling about the presence or absence of assorted nutrients and trace elements in real honey).
    4.Passing off bee-concentrated syrup as honey is downright dishonest and those who market it because it is a cheap way to "make honey/money" discredit the reputations of all beekeepers.

    Many times I have had a rough job trying to explain to people that crystalized honey is not "sugar syrup that has gone back to crystals" and that beekeepers are honest people.

    As you can see, this subject really sets me off.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    efmesch writes:
    The two of us might have difficulty in distinguishing BUT:
    1. Sugar honey is not honey!
    2. Sugar honey does not have the fragrance of floral honeys
    3. Lab equipment tests CAN spot the difference (telling about the presence or absence of assorted nutrients and trace elements in real honey).
    4.Passing off bee-concentrated syrup as honey is downright dishonest and those who market it because it is a cheap way to "make honey/money" discredit the reputations of all beekeepers.

    Many times I have had a rough job trying to explain to people that crystalized honey is not "sugar syrup that has gone back to crystals" and that beekeepers are honest people.

    tecumseh:
    I am absolutely in agreement with your points 1 thru 4. the last sentence is also a pretty good reflection of my experience here in selling my little crop (none here this year). in regards to this last sentence I have constructed a bit of a story which does seem to please the consuming public although I put a lot of effort into not selling crystalized honey myself. the story is.... as far as I know in the US there is only one honey they does not crystalize which is tupelo honey* (which is generally only produced in the Florida panhandle area). therefore almost universally crystalization is not a bad casual test that honey is actually honey.

    ps.. numero 2 is generally my suggestion to my customers in how to distinguish good honey from everything else out there on the grocery story shelf the pretends to be honey.... the nose knows what the nose knows.

    *seem like in my reading this has something to do with the concentration of the various sugars in honey although without a doubt (for me) watching my own honey crystalize generally begins around the pollen that is in the honey itself.
     
  10. Jacobs

    Jacobs New Member

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    I'm going to sort of disagree about whether sugar water honey is honey. I DON'T believe it should be sold for human consumption as honey and I believe people who do it are wrong, wrong, wrong. But what makes a "nectar" source that produces "honey"? Is it the action of the bees upon a sugar source or the source that the bees go to AND the action of the bees on that source. It's sort of like grass fed beef versus corn fed beef. One is not as "natural" as another, but both produce beef.

    One of the reasons I wonder about this is medicinal use of honey for wound treatment/fighting infection. I am not in the medical field, but I would be curious to know and would like to see research on whether sugar water honey has the same or similar anti bacterial properties as nectar based honey. Is it the bee action on sugars or the plant components in honey that give it anti bacterial/healing properties? Sugar is a preservative, but is it sugar alone or highly concentrated sugar water without the action of the bees a potential weapon in wound care?

    I didn't mean to hijack this post, but if someone is aware of research about sugar water honey or plain concentrated sugar water on wound treatment, I would be interested in having a link to it.

    I'm not going to get into the issues of whether a finding of the potency of sugar water honey in wound care would/should lead to more pollinator friendly protections from governmental bodies or whether such a finding would/should lead to factory type bee keeping for medicinal honey.
     
  11. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I have read that the romans dressed their wounds with honey after battles? This oldtime beekeeper said the only reason bees don't make honey from processed sugar in the wild, is because it's not avaible in the wild.(good point) He was talking about stored (2 to 1 sugar) for winter stores vs. honey. I'm with the rest of you on selling sugar honey, it should not be done. Jack
     
  12. Murrell

    Murrell New Member

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    I, store 1-1 with a dab of homemade hbh in 1/2 gal plastic milk cartons,in the summer for nucs for about 2 weeks. These are stored in the garage even in this hot weather. Every couple of days I do the finger test, taste good.

    Have fed 2-2 in the fall and kept the remainder till Jan.-Feb., finger test taste ok ! Also stored in garage.

    I think the lack of sunlight might have something to do with it also, 4-1 humming bird sugar water turns rancid very quickly in the feeders ? [ also doesn't have hbh in it ]

    Course everyone do their own thing.

    Murrell
     
  13. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Jacobs asks?
    But what makes a "nectar" source that produces "honey"? Is it the action of the bees upon a sugar source or the source that the bees go to AND the action of the bees on that source.

    It seems like a let down to have to say that it's the legal definition man has given to honey that requires it to be from floral sources.
    But that is a simplistic answer.
    Sugar is an almost pure chemical product (sucrose) that the bees Digest into simpler sugar molecules (glucose). The sugars in NECTAR are of a variety of chemical compositions--and the breakdown sugars in floral honeys are varied (which among other things, is why some honeys crystalize, other don't, some separate into larger or smaller layers of crystals and liquid). In addition to the varied-sugars content of honey, nectars bring with them different minerals, vitamins (very minor) and assorted other components. In other words, sugar "honey" is concentrated glucose syrup and little (if anything) else.
    Honey is a concentrated syrup of many different sugars, vitamins, minerals, flavors,etc.
    I'm saying nothing about the medicinal value of one versus the other. As you said, that is something for the researchers to answer.

    Comparing beef raised on grazed foraging versus corn-only feed isn't quite the same. If the corn doesn't have adequate nutrition for the production of meat, the farmer adds supplements to make up for what is missing. That would be like having the beekeeper who produces "sugar honey" adding all the items found naturally in floral honey to his syrup. Then, he would be producing artificial honey that I suppose could really be called honey except for that legal definition problem.
    Of course, for the beek to do that, it would end up costing him more that honest honey.

    My apologies for being so verbose.
     
  14. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    No apologie needed here, good post. :thumbsup: One of our club members said he fed his bees to much sugar syrup one time and he took a frame of sugar honey, he said it had no tast. (had no, :shock: that should drive an english teacher crazy) :lol: Jack
     
  15. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Early this spring, I started coaching my oldest grandson in his first steps at beekeeping. He fed his first hives with sugar syrup until the citrus flowers (in a lemon grove) started producing. After the honey flow was over we went to see what honey we could extract from his hives. It was easy to spot the syrup cells mixed among the honey-containing cells: some in the nest frames at the sides of the super and some in the honey supers.
    Needless to say, he understood why I refused to let him take those frames to extract. :(
     
  16. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I looked into the honey wound care when i started bee keeping in January his year

    I am not a physisian ( I am an EE) but do work in the medical field.

    Honey works because of the low PH, and is osmotic, so it draws fluid out and to the wound site thus flushing it, both of these factors are also negative, The very low PH creates intense localised pain when first applied, and the osmotic properties can cause other issues like too much fluid removal, as well as fusing a dressing to the wound.

    The best medicinal honey comes from the Tea Tree in NZ.

    A quick look again today does not show any studies of non floral honey , but i will put this to a medical researcher friend to see if she can find anything out there.
     
  17. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    As for storing sugar mix, as a home brewer i use 5 gallon Stainless cornie kegs (old Pepsi kegs) and have used these now for sugar water mix too, I add a bit of lemon juice, and put it under CO2. Just light pressure

    The kegs have been out in the sun for two weeks now without issue.

    This last batch has Honey B Healthy in it instead of lemon juice, no issue so far.
     
  18. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Zulu:
    Thanks for your response, but what I was interested in was storing sugar syrup without kegs, CO2 pressurization, etc.
    However, having said that, I do like beer, and am often in North Carolina (I just ran a load to Winston-Salem earlier this week) and would be interested in sampling some. LOL Take care:
    Rodger
     
  19. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Rodger drop me a line when next over here, happy to share.

    I just happen to have the equipment, and it is working to keep the sugar mix safe. Lemon juice helps keep it acidic too , which should help prevent mold too.
     
  20. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    zulu writes:
    As for storing sugar mix, as a home brewer i use 5 gallon Stainless cornie kegs (old Pepsi kegs) and have used these now for sugar water mix too, I add a bit of lemon juice, and put it under CO2. Just light pressure

    tecumseh:
    I think this may have potential for a thread of it's own if Zulu has the time. it would be informative to me to see how you set up the equipment and concentrations of various things you add to the syrup. I should mention that co2 is one of those things that is easily obtainable and has other potential uses in bee keeping.

    efmesch writes:
    Sugar is an almost pure chemical product (sucrose) that the bees Digest into simpler sugar molecules (glucose).

    tecumseh:
    it is my understanding that nectar is a complex of the various sugars (sucrose, fructose, glucose.... <there is a long list of these) and the various plants produce these in a variety of 'blends'. the honey bee does of course process these sugars and reduce them for their own consumption but from the get go 'variety honey' differ due to their unique sugar composition.