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  1. #1
    BILLY BOB Guest

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    Hi all,

    Today when my father and I were talking about my hives he ask me about feeding molasses to them during fall/spring feeding. He thinks that molasses is much cheeper on the market than cane surgar.

    I've read the reports about what is the best to feed to your hives, honey, surgar, corn sirup, with sugar turning up the best. I wasn't sure about molasses. Molasses is the left over sirup from refining cane sugar. My first thought was molasses is scorched cane sugar, but I don't know for sure. So that is my question...Is molasses scorched cane sugar or is it another product from cane sugar that the bees will eat and benefit from.

    If it is scorched cane sugar then it wouldn't do for feeding. If not, it may be a better/cheeper type of feed to give the bees.

    Thanks

    Billy Bob

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    Molasses is a by-product of processing raw sugar cane. Molasses contains inpurities from the processing. I have read a number of articles that state not to feed molasses to bees due to possible inpurities that the bees can not process.

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    http://www.beesource.com/pov/usda/abjfeb1977.htm (on this site) has papers by the USDA and this one is about studies on what makes good bee feed. Here is a quote from that on molasses:

    "Refined beet and cane sugar are pure sucrose and, of course, are safe and nutritionally equivalent. Unrefined sugars have poisoned bees. The toxic factors in molasses and in brown sugars have not been identified. Bailey (1966) found that semi-refined cane sugar was harmless but that semi-refined beet sugar decreased the life of bees. So, impurities in his unrefined beet sugar must be toxic."

    Not sure how helpful it is. It's a little ambiguous because it says that there are toxic factors in molasses and brown sugars, but that semi-refined cane sugar was harmless and semi-refined beet sugar decreased the life of the bees. I'd pass on molasses, myself.

    Honey is the best bee food.

  4. #4
    BILLY BOB Guest

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    Thanks for the reply!

    I didn't have a good answer for dad, but I didn't think molasses would work anyway.

    Michael, I did see at the end of your post that you said "honey is the best bee food". I wanted to note that in the web link that you posted even stated that sucrose (table sugar) is of more use to bees than any other form of feed, including honey.

    I also found another sight that explained the study of what is the best "bee feed". www.beesource.com/pov/usda/apidologie1978.htm I'm not trying to start anything over this...I would much rather have your thoughts on it.

    I, my self don't like to feed my hives at all, but if I have a late swarm, or have a 2 month dry spell like we had here in Georgia in the late summer. I may have to feed some of my hives.

    Thanks for your thoughts

    Billy Bob

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    It is true, that is what the study says. I personally think that sucrose is good stimulation feed (better than honey) but I'm not sure it's better for them. There are still less impurities in honey. For feed to get through the winter they need something they can eat without the need to defecate a lot.

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    The question of impurities is exactly why sucrose is the best food for over-wintering. Sucrose is exceptionally pure in comparison with honey. The vast majority of scientific research done seems to come down heavily in favour of sugar as the best stores for over-wintering so what is the rationale for the contrary 'belief'?

    Confused.
    Richard

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    If by "contrary belief" you mean that honey is better food. What is it that bees store for winter food? Honey! What do they eat all winter if not interfered with by humans? Honey! What has the correct pH for their system? Honey! What has the least amount of impurities to interfere with their system? Honey! What creates less feces than any other feed? Honey! The only advantages to sugar are price and that it stimulates them to make enzymes that convinces their bodies that it is nectar and therefore make them think there is a nectar flow, which stimulates them to make brood.

    For years, when I was a child, they believed that formula was better for babies than breast milk. They had plenty of research to support it. That didn't make it true. What is natural is always best. Sooner or later the research always supports it.

    I'd say at least one of the best reasons to feed honey is pH. If Dee Ludsby would like to chime in, I think she has researched this in more detail.

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    I'm not Dee Lusby, but I think bees have been around about a million years, and I think they have been producing honey for as long. Logic tells me, that honey seems to be a constant in their survival, hence it must be the choice of nature. Now, is the foods that we think are best, really the best? Nature does not think so... Just my opinion..
    Further, it seems to me, that when we start messing with nature, we encourage the development of say.......Varroa <sp>

    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
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    [This message has been edited by Hook (edited December 11, 2002).]

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    Interesting how so many people only believe research when it supports their 'beliefs'.

    I suppose that the advances in medicine and all the 'unnatural' treatment available to humans now has led to a drastic reduction in life expectancy compared to 2000 years ago when everything was 'natural'??

    The vast majority of properly conducted scientific research suggests that sucrose is the best feed on which to over winter bees. The most likely reason for this is that sucrose is extremely pure as compared to honey and leads to a reduced need for defecation during winter.

    I would be interested in the published research papers that show honey to be superior. I am not interested in anecdotal tales when there is so much research concluding the opposite.

    Richard

  10. #10
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    My biggest complaint about sucrose is the pH. Sugar is a pH of about 3.5 honey or nectar is about 7.2. The bee's system is designed to eat and process something with a dramatically different pH than sugar. If carefully controlled research can show that in large enough samples over a long enough period of time under varying amounts of stress, sucrose is superior I won't disagree. Quite often the criteria for research and the conclusions that are drawn from the research are not very carefully drawn up.

    How much stress does it cause to have bees eating food that is significantly different in pH? If there aren't enough other stresses to push them over the edge then maybe it's not significant. But if they are already stressed by mites, or weather or other factors how much added stress is this? I think it may be quite significant. But this may not be significant enough to show up in a study where those other stresses, which occur in real life, didn't occur.

    I admit, I have a belief, supported by years of observation and experience and by countless observations of what science says they have "proved" only to have them later "discover" that they were wrong, that the overall pattern I see is that what is natural is what is best.

    As I have already mentioned, when I was a child it was a known "scientific fact" supported by much research that baby formula was far superior food for babies than breast milk. This is now known to be entirely false.

    Part of the reason for the research on formula and the prejudiced view that formula would be better, was rooted in evolution. If breast milk is simply an accident that was merely nutritious enough for survival, then our planning would be assumed to be better than a simple accident. Our human arrogance is that we can improve on what is in nature.

    It was a known "scientific fact" that x-rays did not hurt unborn fetuses and it was common practice to x-ray expectant mother, as it is now common practice to use ultra-sound. We now know that x-rays are very harmful to fetuses. That study was entirely wrong.

    How could they make this miscalculation? Because sometimes it takes a much larger sample and a much longer time period to measure the actual effects of something than the sample used in the study and the time period of the study.

    They have the same amount of research now to support that ultrasound is safe as they had then to support that x-rays were safe. Insufficient numbers over an insufficient amount of time.

    In the 50's 60's and 70's it was considered unscientific to believe that nutrition could be the cause of diseases in a developed country where lots of processed, enriched foods were available. Vitamins were only useful in underdeveloped countries where people did not have enough food. Vitamins for civilized people, were a waste of your money and any doctor who claimed you could prevent or cure anything with nutritional supplements was a quack and thrown out of the AMA.

    Now this seems stupid, but this was a known "scientific fact" backed by lots of reasearch.

    It is chronological snobbery to always assume that what we now know as "fact" is true and what previous generations knew as "fact" was their stupidity or ignorance.

    I still stand by my observation that what is natural almost always proves out, in the end, to be best.

    I am not the sort of person who assumes something to be true without some evidence, but, again, it is difficult to eliminate all the variables in testing something like food for bees. Some of us have observed what appears to be less stress when feeding honey.

    It's true that our observations, like all other studies on the subject, have a lot of other possible causes. The life of a honey bee is complex and the stresses on them are complex. If I am doing what I think is right and the bees fail, I might blame it on what I'm doing, or I might blame it on some outside factor. If they succeed I may credit what I'm doing. But it's difficult for anyone, scientist or otherwise, to isolate all the factors and to be sure that some other outside influence was not involved.

    Statistical proof is much more useful with a very large sample under very diverse conditions. Otherwise there is always the chance coincidence and the primary error in logic: "post hoc ergo procto hoc". After this therefore caused by this.

    I would say that the success of thousands (if you are a "literal creationist") or millions (if you are a evolutionist) of years of bee survival would prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that honey is at least adequate and useful as bee food and could do no harm. Considering the current state of Apiculture and our current miserable failure at raising healthy bees, any return to what we know has worked for millennia is a step back in the right direction.

  11. #11
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    Acutally, I would like to address another reference to how much longer we now live with "western medicine".

    In my opinion, which I don't think would be too hard to substatiate, we live longer for two simple reasons. Antibiotics and better nutrition. Only one of these, at first sight, appearts to be "unnatural". Of course actually all antibiotics are patterned off of or directly taken from nature.

  12. #12
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    The vast majority of properly conducted scientific research suggests that sucrose is the best feed on which to over winter bees. The most likely reason for this is that sucrose is extremely pure as compared to honey and leads to a reduced need for defecation during winter.

    I would be interested in the published research papers that show honey to be superior. I am not interested in anecdotal tales when there is so much research concluding the opposite.

    Richard


    Then feed your bees what you will, I really don't care! Now I am editing this, but I am not going to let this one go.

    you said: I suppose that the advances in medicine and all the 'unnatural' treatment available to humans now has led to a drastic reduction in life expectancy compared to 2000 years ago when everything was 'natural'??

    You are right. We also did not have a population explosion, hunger rampant in many parts of the world, weapons of mass destruction.....the list can go on.
    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

    [This message has been edited by Hook (edited December 12, 2002).]

  13. #13
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    According to a recent study from the National Academy Institute of Medicine, each year more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or AIDS (16,516).
    http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art273.asp http://www.pritzkerlaw.com/medical_m...statistics.htm

    This isn't even taking into account the treatments that have no empirical eveidence to support them. I could get into an entire other discussion on "western" medicine, but I don't think this is the appropriate forum.

    Also I have started another thread with the subject of scientific research if you would care to join that discussion.

    As in any attemtp to find a solution to a problem it is virtually impossible to prove anything beyond any doubt. I do not consider myself an expert on the subject of feeding honey vs feeding sugar, but the success of Dee Ludsby and others who have a large number of hive using no chemicals to control mites and succeeding at it is a fairly good basis for a theory. I do not know of any scientific studies on the subject that have been written up and published.

    On the other hand there has been a very large experiment lasting for millinia on whether or not bees can survive and thrive on honey. The results are quite encoraging. This is a very large sample over a very long period of time and I think is quite statistically significant.


  14. #14
    BILLY BOB Guest

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    Hello all,

    I thought I said I didn't want to start anything over this?

    Well it just goes to show how you can get 10 different answers from 10 different beekeepers.

    Now here are my thoughts...

    First, I DON'T like to feed my hives. I would rather do without a few jars of honey, than to have to feed my hives anything, sugar or honey.

    Second I don't like to feed honey back to my hives. Yeah I know I could feed honey if it came from my hives, but AFB isn't somthing to play with, and you don't always know if it's in one of your hives. You know it just takes a few spors.

    Third, If I do have to feed I'd like to think it was beyond my control.....(We do take honey from the hives so it's always the beekeepers falt). I try to feed as little as posable. I do use sugar for the resons above. I also feed "alittle" in the spring to help get things started.

    Fourth, and final thoughts. I use sugar as a FEED not FOOD. What I feed is to just let the bees get by, not for them to live off of.

    thanks

    Billy Bob

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    Let's be specific then.

    Let us talk now about the specific study by the USDA comparing corn syrup, grape syrup, honey and sucrose as feed. These were used in a closed cage. The bees had no pollen or any other item that they might have gathered if they had the opportunity. There were 1200 bees in each of three cages for each of the four feeds being compared. This is twelve cages. (Dee Lusby’s operation is several hundred hives and is a much more significant number bu under less controled conditions.) Twelve, of course a very small sample, but the good thing is it is under very controlled conditions. The other bad thing is it is for a short time span, 60 days. The criteria they came up with to determine “good food” was the number of dead bees. The conclusion is, and I quote “Differences between tests in the number of bees per cage were not significant”. In spite of the small sample for a small amount of time and their own statement that the differences were not significant, the researches still conclude, “The survival data agree with our earlier reports that no sugar sustains bees better than sucrose”. I say, since they have already proven that the differences were not significant that statement is irrelevant.

    The theory being put forth by many who say that honey is better is, that over a long period of time exposure to a pH radically different than their normal body pH causes stress, which affects the immune system of the bee. Since the USDA test did nothing to try to measure immune response and nothing to try to measure stress, and nothing to try to measure pH or any bodily function of the bee I would say that this theory is far from disproved by this study. Since many people have tried feeding honey when they were having disease problems and were feeding sugar have had good success. I would say there is enough evidence to warrant a well thought out research project to find out if it is true that honey is better.

    On the other hand, any good zookeeper when faced with an animal to feed would start out by assuming that best thing to feed it is what it eats in its natural state.

    p.s.
    If you would like to see what effect changing the pH even slightly has on an organism try hyperventilating. The effect you feel is not from a excess of oxygen but from a change in pH caused by blowing off too much C02 which changes your blood pH. Part of the problems you have are because enzymes can only work in a very narrow window of temprature and pH.

    BTW here’s another study on bee feed: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsaf/elibrary/a...92/carboh.html


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    pH of Sugar.
    When one feeds syrup made from sucrose dissolved in water to bees as a pre-winter feed the bees process the sugar in a similar way to sugars from nectar and make 'honey'.
    What is the pH of nectar?
    What is the pH of 'honey made from sucrose?
    What relevance is the pH of sugar when after the processing by the bees the pH is altered?

    The argument that it is better to leave sufficient honey with a colony for over-wintering rather than feed syrup can be justified by economics. I can easily see that the cost difference between honey and sugar may not outweigh the labour costs of extracting honey and feeding syrup, plus the cost of possible disturbance to the colony. This has to be balanced against the possible higher winter losses associated with the bees eating a sub-optimal winter food.

    Would any of you argue that honey from all nectar sources is equally good for over-wintering bees (a specific strain of bees in a specific location)?
    I'm sure you will not argue this so can you explain why some nectar sources (and so honey) is less good than others?

    Trying to bring the discussion back to bees,
    Richard

  17. #17
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    >pH of Sugar.
    >When one feeds syrup made from sucrose dissolved in water to bees as a pre-winter feed the bees process the sugar in a similar way to sugars from nectar and make 'honey'.

    Personally this is one of the things that concern me about sugar syrup. If the bees eat honey I think they view it more as rearranging stores because it does not set off the chain of enzymatic events that honey does. The sucrose on the other hand, may cause the bees to believe there is a nectar flow and they may raise more brood than if they were fed honey. This should be taken into account in any research done on the subject of winter feed and, as far as I know, has not. It certainly was not done in this study.

    >What is the pH of nectar?

    I do not know. Unfortunately the studies that I have read on this subject did not cover this. I think it would be significant information to know.

    >What is the pH of 'honey made from sucrose?

    Another piece of significant information that no one seems to have gathered that I know of.

    >What relevance is the pH of sugar when after the processing by the bees the pH is altered?

    What if it is very stressful on the bees to alter it? That is the theory that needs to be tested.

    >The argument that it is better to leave sufficient honey with a colony for over-wintering rather than feed syrup can be justified by economics.

    That depends on your economics. Honey is worth more than sugar. If I have the time available to spend on the project I can make more money by taking more honey and feeding sugar. This has routinely been done by many beekeepers for many years. If I am not paying myself a salary then the labor does not cost me money. The honey makes me money. Yes, you could argue that I could use that time at a paying job somewhere instead, but I may not have that paying job somewhere else nor the inclination nor the opportunity to find one.

    >I can easily see that the cost difference between honey and sugar may not outweigh the labour costs of extracting honey and feeding syrup, plus the cost of possible disturbance to the colony. This has to be balanced against the possible higher winter losses associated with the bees eating a sub-optimal winter food.

    Meaning, I take it, that honey is sub-optimal? Did you read the whole study you are quoting and not just the conclusion they stated at the end? It's not important what the researchers said at the end, it's important what they actually measured, which was that there is no significant difference between any of the feeds in the size of sample they took (3 groups of 1200 bees for each feed) and for the period of time they did the study (60 days), by the criteria with which they were measuring it (dead bees). All of which are inadequate to say if any of those feeds were sub-optimal.

    >Would any of you argue that honey from all nectar sources is equally good for over-wintering bees (a specific strain of bees in a specific location)?

    I'm not much for arguing at all. Since neither I nor anyone I know has ever done a study on this I would say that is another variable in the equation that would have to be averaged out in a study on what feed is best and maybe even studied on it's own in order to have a definitive answer to the question. I would say no one knows at this point.

    >I'm sure you will not argue this so can you explain why some nectar sources (and so honey) is less good than others?

    Again, there is not a study and I have no experience to base any opinion on it. The honey that I have had and have fed bees, I had no problems with but there are too many variables to say any problems I had at any time were or were not related to the kind of nectar in the honey I fed several months before. It is a possibility.

    If you are asking me to form a theory on the subject of varying usefulness to the bees of various nectars, I would say the main constituents of nectar (and pollen for that matter) are very similar from plant to plant and probably there is no significant difference. I can't know that without collecting and analyzing data from every nectar source on the planet, though. Of course for my personal purposes I could limit it to my general area.

    Statistical relevance vs Practical relevance

    In order to be statistically relevant a study has to have a large enough population and a large enough control population to know that the difference in results is not just a random anomaly.

    Even if something in a study is statistically significant, and because of aforementioned size and duration of it, I don't think the study we are discussing has anything that is, you would still have to consider if it has any practical significance.

    Here is a simple analogy. In one of my previous jobs I helped with a large foot race. We kept the times for thousands of runners. A man walks up to me as the first 10 people come across the line and makes some comment about men and women, because the first ten across were men (the 11th was a woman). I looked at him and asked if he could run the five miles and he walked away disgruntled.

    If your purpose is to predict if the winner of this race was going to be a man or a woman, then it is statistically relevant and practically relevant that men, on the average have more stamina than women. On the other hand if you are using this same statistically relevant piece of information to decide if any given person would beat any other given person in the race by only considering their gender you would be wrong 49% of the time. The old man who asked me the question couldn’t have even RUN the five miles, let alone beat the first woman across the line. That woman came in before all but 10 of the thousand or so men in the race. In other words this piece of information when used to attempt to predict that outcome is PRACTICALLY irrelevant. Why? Because hundreds of other factors have more of an effect and are more likely to be useful to decide this question. If I take into account their physique this would be more practically relevant. If I take into account their age it would be more relevant. The fact is I could be right 50% of the time by predicting it on their eye color.

    When looking at research we have to discern the relevance, both practical and statistical, of the results.

    I can find contrary results on most studies if I look very far and the reasons for these contrary conclusions in supposedly scientific studies are things such as the size of the population, the makeup of the population, the duration of the study and the criteria used to analyze the results. Quite often data that really is not valid to either of the two things being compared is included in one of the populations and therfore skews the results. This kind of skewing is sometimes an oversight on the part of the researchers and sometimes due to the agenda of the researchers. If we really want the truth it would be wise not to just take the conlusions we like, but to read the research and see what was actually measured.



    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited December 13, 2002).]

  18. #18

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    How long did it take to type that and was it worth it?

  19. #19
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    >How long did it take to type that and was it worth it?

    I type 120 words a minute and the essentials are mostly from memory, so it didn't take long.

    If anyone gets a better grasp of how to interpret scientific research means to all of us, then yes, it was worth it.

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    This all seems to be much ado about nothing. What I have read pretty much concludes that sugar (white table sugar) and water will sustain the bees for a slightly longer lifespan than a diet of honey. Now, since bees, as a rule, live 4-8 weeks, I doubt that it matters that much which food source they consume. My suspicion, though not backed up by science, is that bees are able to convert nectar to honey in a way that will preseve it and prevent molding and bacterial contamination, therefore is suitable for stores over a long period. That does not necessarily mean it is superior to sucrose for bee nutrition. You could probably loosely compare it to the difference between humans consuming fresh killed meat versus meat that has been salted, smoked, canned or frozen. The nutrition of fresh meat, or vegetables for that matter, is generally superior to that of preserved foodstuffs. Maybe a stretch on my part to compare the two, but something to consider.

    Now, back to the original post, I have read differing views on feeding molasses to bees. Some sources say that it is good for supplying minerals, and others say it is toxic. I add mineral drops (made for feeding birds)to my sugar water in very small quantities.

    [This message has been edited by dragonfly (edited December 13, 2002).]

    [This message has been edited by dragonfly (edited December 13, 2002).]

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