Making sugar syrup - invert sugar?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by briligg, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. briligg

    briligg New Member

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    So, here i am searching around for more information on syrup for bees. We only have 3 and a half litres of honey harvested recently from the wild hive we boxed (now it has split into 2 hives). The original hive has some stores, the second is going to need a lot of feeding.

    On a natural beekeeping site (biobees) i saw instructions for making liquid invert sugar syrup by carefully boiling sugar, avoiding all carmelizing (toxic!), and adding 2 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice to 2 and 1/2 quarts water and 5 lbs pure cane sugar. Boil 20 min. stirring lots. It breaks the sucrose into glucose and fructose, while some sucrose also remains unaltered, so you get a syrup with all three sugars. Much longer shelf life, more like natural nectar - sounds good. This blog page http://wvbeekeeper.blogspot.com/2008/01/making-invert-sugar-syrup.html
    had some more info and a different recipe.

    But on this page http://www.scientificbeekeeping.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52 the author said "hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)... forms from fructose when an acidic sugar solution is kept at a warm temperature for any length of time... HMF is harmless to humans... however is toxic to bees"
    Hmmm. Does the acid in the recipe create enough HMF to be detrimental to the bees? People using the recipe seem happy, but the are so many factors always in play, maybe they haven't noticed there is some detriment. Maybe it would be better to use less of the acid, and boil longer, but i don't know if that would lead to the same about of sucrose being inverted. Still hunting around for more info.
    Or you can buy invertase - but not where i am, and i don't know how much it would end up costing you.
     
  2. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    I haven't tried adding lemon juice.

    I just boil the water, remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar until I get a clear liquid. After it cools, I might add some Honey-B-Healthy if I have some. The girls suck it down and seem to be doing OK.

    I don't have to worry about shelf life...when they're building up, they pack it away in short order. :D

    Walt
     

  3. briligg

    briligg New Member

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    Walt -
    There is this debate, though, about whether or not it is healthier to feed inverted sugar, or honey. Clearly lots of people produce lots of hives and honey feeding with sugar, but are the hives as strong as ones fed with the other two? People go on and on about it, i would love to see a few good studies done to find out. In the absence of that, i'm inclined to use inverted sugar, as long as i can resolve my acidity concern. If it's more like their natural food, it just seems to me there must be advantages to that.
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    there has been any number of studies over the years (some going back 30+ years) concerning the different kinds of feed. the less impurities and the less the end product is heated/overheated seems to be the two largest concerns. the bees are well adapted naturally to convert the frutose and sucrose into glucose for their own use.

    drivert (sp?) I think is an inverted form of sugar that Steve Taber promoted at the 'best' bee feed. Tartaric acid is what I recalled as the agent added to syrup to invert the sugar and is commonly used in queen cage candy.

    at your location 1/1 should be the mixture of choice. one obvious advantage is 1/1 requires water not much hotter than that produced by a hot water heater, so overheating should never be a concern.

    There is an excellent article in the latest ABJ Huang (pg 773) concerning bee nutrition. . most especially for the beginner I would review the information presented there before I got all wound up or highly concerned with anything I read on some web site. The article provides the following web links... bees@msu.edu and http://wwwbeeccdcap.uga.edu/ and http://www.extension.org/bee%20health. I have not checked these links out myself so if you do report back what you discover if you have the time and opportunity.



    ...
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If I have something 98%, and it doubles the cost to get 99%, and is still not 100%, then I will stay at 98%.

    1:1 granulated sugar does a fine job and will mix in tap water if allowed to sit for a few hours. I never heat 1:1 mix.
     
  6. briligg

    briligg New Member

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    Iddee - that may well be what we do, but as we've read a lot of rhetoric about this, and as our bees are a hobby, i'm still fussing about this until i can read enough well-studied information to know what the difference is. I'm like that.

    Leaving a sugar-water mix to sit a few hours here probably wouldn't be a good idea. I've had fresh lemonade go bad that way. And we'd have to use our filtered water, which is bought - better to boil tap water and use that.

    Tecumseh - thanks for those links! I'm on it!
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I agree with your recipe, but I add a dash of cost/reward to my stew.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    brilligg...
    most time 1 to 1 last several days here with little to no problem. if you had some concern a dash of liquid lecithin (I obtain this at the local health food store but generally only use it when I am making up a syrup/oils/vit b spray*) gives the syrup a bit more shelf life.

    *someone's idea for homebrewed honey b healthy.
     
  9. briligg

    briligg New Member

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    Well, for the last week we've been feeding 2 to 1 to the new hive. I chose 2 to 1 just to save them some labour evaporating the extra water - it is so rainy and humid here right now.

    I read up on bee health and nutrition on the extension website, and used their ask an expert service. The expert felt it would be safest to invert the sugar with an acid and then neutralize the acid with baking soda. That would leave the syrup with a lot of sodium in it, that might not be good. Our honey is quite dark, the bee nutrition article on extension http://www.extension.org/pages/Honey_Bee_Nutrition#INTRODUCTION
    which is great, by the way, says that means it contains more minerals than usual, so putting even more minerals in their feed might push them over their healthy limit.

    So, still it seems that the advantages of inverting the sugar are outweighed by the risk that the feed would be bad for them because it has a lot of HMF, or because the neutralizing agent puts excess minerals in their diet. (I briefly considered using potassium bicarbonate to neutralize instead of baking soda - the leftover would be potassium, could be easier for them to handle, but i still don't know how much is too much for them.) Our bees have an excellent diet in general. There is a very wide range of flowers and fruit trees in the area, they'll never want for pollen and nectar should be in sufficient supply except between Jan and Mar, and even then there will be some. So better, i think, to give them regular table sugar that is harder to digest than risk toxic byproducts in their syrup.
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Not only better, but saves you a lot of work, too. :D
     
  11. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    hard to beat cane sugar and boiled water.