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  1. #1
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    Dec 2005
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    Question

    Here's a curious question: Is their a ratio of sugar to water that causes bees to draw out comb faster? What happens to the bees wax scale production if one feeds bees 1:1, 1:2, or 2:3 syrup?

    I am curious because I'm helping two new hives draw out their second deep with foundation by feeding them. It has taken 4 one gallon feedings for them to complete their deeps. Just as an experiment, each time I fed them I gave them a syrup with a different sugar to water ration. The results with each feeding were the same. It didn't make a difference how strong or week the syrup was. They pulled out the wax at a constant speed.

    My concluding thought, or question, is this: if I can fill the bees' tummies with a more diluted syrup and make them produce as much wax as when feed a thicker syrup, then why not save some money and dilute the syrup?

    Your thoughts...

  2. #2
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    I have never felt they turned the sugar into wax, but rather produced the wax from organs on their body. Kind of like when you take more vitamins than you need everyday, your urine becomes vitiman rich, and the excess vitimans are wasted.

  3. #3
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    It takes energy to make wax and sugar would provide that energy. If energy were the limiting factor, a higher sugar concentration should increase wax production.

    But the amount of energy available is probably not the limiting factor. Also, energy is available from any nectar that they gather so that would further confound your study. I suspect you would need a much better controlled experiment to tell anything.

    There are plenty of people who will tell you that if there is a flow on, there is no need to feed.
    Linux - World domination through world cooperation

  4. #4
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    wax production is encourage by having a large population of fairly young workers in the hive, since the workers only produce wax at the early part of their life. brood rearing is stimulated by feeding. there has got to be a connection there somewhere.

    as to comments for mr jt smith:
    I do feed 1 to 1 to stimulate the bees when I desire to have foundation drawn. my thinking is that the world dribble encapsulates the proper approach in this regards. not trying to nit pick your little science experiment but, if you had wished to established a bit more robust answer to your question then you should have varied quantity and quality of the sugar (water) input.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2005
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    Louisville, KY
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    Thanks for the comments and honest criticisms regarding my experiment. They are helpful.

    I guess another way of framing the issue is this: If nectar is only 15-30% sugar, and bees draw comb profusely with that, then why do we feed them a 50-75% sugar syrup when we want them to build comb just the same?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    >"why do we feed them a 50-75% sugar syrup

    I've over thought this greatly in the past but, I now feed 2.5 sugar : 1 water anytime they need feed simply because its easier. You get more actual sugar on the hive for YOUR work. my 1 quart jar of 2.5:1 is equal in sugar content to over a gallon of 1:2. It is easier to keep from molding. and it takes them much longer to use 2.5:1 than it does 1:2. If I could get more sugar in solution, I would do that. But 2.5:1 is the most sugar I can get in there without it overly crystalizing.

    My philosophy is the bees are working for me, not the other way around. If what they are doing needs more water in the syrup, they can easily go get some water from the creek or chicken waterer, which they do. If the bees are in comb expansion mode, I doubt the dilluion of food we give them matters. They can make what they need.

    However, this seems like an easy experiment. I would use 10 hives in 2 test groups (for a total of 20). Treat them exactly the same, start them all from nucs. In one group feed 2.5:1 in the next group feed 1:2. Make up the splits during the summer dearth so you know they aren't getting much from a honey flow. Compare and Contrast! [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Also, in Lousville I would think that you are still in the main spring flow. Here in TN valley, we are just winding down, so you should still have a few weeks. That would have definately interfered with your experiment.

    [size="1"][ June 07, 2006, 08:03 AM: Message edited by: MichaelW ][/size]

  7. #7
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    Dec 2005
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    Louisville, KY
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    MichaelW,

    I appreciate your insightful reply. And I understand your point about feeding a more concentrated sugar syrup in order to save time and hastle. The logic makes sense. I will apply it to the two summer splits that I am making next week and see what happens. I won't be able to contrast the difference to my previous splits, given the multitude of variable factors, but it will be interesting to observe. When my apiary is larger I will conduct the experiment you suggested. Thanks alot Michael.

  8. #8
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    The bees draw wax when they need it. Their biggest need is for drying nectar, spreading it out. Given that, I would think a light syrup would be best. It stimulates brood production and takes longer to dry. If you're looking to help the hive and not yourself, feed heavy syrup. It's less work for the bees.

    [size="1"][ June 07, 2006, 08:40 AM: Message edited by: Ross ][/size]

  9. #9
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    >Is their a ratio of sugar to water that causes bees to draw out comb faster?

    It just doesn't really make much difference. The 2:1 keeps better than the 1:1 and you have half as much to haul out to the hives. If it's too diluted it's a lot of work for them to dilute it. If it's too concentrated they have to haul water to go with it to consume it. But between 2:1 and 1:1 I don't see any difference in wax making.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    FWIW, here's a little from the Coggshall/Morse book 'Beeswax':

    "Some years ago a temperature and humidity controlled room was built to try to force artificial swarms fed sugar syrup to produce and discard wax scales instead of using them to build comb. This proved to be a frustrating experience for bees and experimenter alike. The low humidity required to help the bees get rid of water without resorting to flight caused crystallization of sugar syrup no matter how it was fed. From this experience it was concluded that efficient forced wax production using caged bees was impractical. We have serious doubts that beekeepers will ever be able to increase the wax production of their colonies in any practical way."

    Then the authors play with some numbers and add this little bit of trivia:

    "...since a bee produces eight scales at once, 100,000 bees all producing at the same time should secrete one pound of beeswax overnight. Of course, bees don't produce beeswax scales in such numbers and the illustration is simply to show that in addition to being a complex chemical beeswax is also a product of the activities of many individual bees."

    [size="1"][ June 07, 2006, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: Dick Allen ][/size]

  11. #11
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    Dec 2005
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    Louisville, KY
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    "Their biggest need is for drying nectar, spreading it out. Given that, I would think a light syrup would be best."

    Ross, I had a similiar thought. I thought if the syrup is lighter, then they will keep it in their bodies longer as they dehydrate it with their tounge, which will do two things: it will casue their bodies to make more wax scales, since it will be in their bodies longer. And second, it will cause them to build more comb to spread the syrup out for dyring. Plus, they will not store it as fast since it is far from being the consistency of honey (17% water).

    Yet, these are just my speculations. What others have said and quoted above seem more conclusive them my unsupported hypotheses.

  12. #12
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    michael w sezs:
    However, this seems like an easy experiment.

    tecumseh suggest:
    in addition to the two groups mentioned you would need to establish a control group to which you did not 'treat' at all. this establishes a base line. if you desired to eliminate experimental 'bias' then you would need to determine which nuc fell into which group using a random number generator.

  13. #13
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    Nov 2004
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    Post

    I have gived 20% sugar to swarms and they raise combs very well. When combs are ready and they ventilate water away they store sugar very few in combs.

    When I give 50% syrup they will cap some in half size combs.

  14. #14
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    Nov 2004
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    Helsinki, Finland
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    Post

    When bees make wax they need a lot pollen. If they have not pollen, they take nutrition from their body.

    But it is usual that when you give syrup in the morning bees collect extra pollen whole day.

  15. #15
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    May 2005
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    JT, since you're only talking about 2 nucs then the time savings is insignificant. Your idea is logical. You could go in between and use 1:1 or just use whatever you feel like is best.

    Like I said, I've deliberated over ratios, and decided I was making it more complicated than it really is and just went with whats easier for me.

    tecumsh:
    The problem with the control would be not feeding 10 nucs made up in the summer dearth is that they would be dead by fall.

    [size="1"][ June 08, 2006, 09:39 AM: Message edited by: MichaelW ][/size]

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