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  1. #1

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    Why does my sugar syrup keep crystalizing? The last several feedings, my syrup crystalized. Am I doing something wrong? Can somebody help me out? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    New Brunswick
    Posts
    103

    Post

    Did you make your own syrup or buy commercial stuff ? When you make your own don't overboil it, bring the water to a boil, turn the heat down and stir in the sugar, keep stirring until the solution becomes water clear and also add a teaspoon of cream or tartar stirring it in good. This will usually keep the mixture from crystallizing. That's a tablespoon of tartar (per gallon) Good luck.
    sterlingc

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,326

    Post

    Crystalizing is what syrup does. I boil the water, add the sugar and stir until clear and then remove the heat. It will still crystalize eventually but should last quite a while.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

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    Crystalizing occurs because of super-saturation, which is a phenomenon that occurs when you saturate a solution with more solids than it can hold in solution normally. The excess pricipitates out of solution as solids, and in the case of crystaline structures (salt, sugar, various other minierals), the precipitate (that the solid is called), gathers together to grow this crystals.

    Several method of supersaturation can occur, one is temperature. The level of oxygen saturation in water increases as heat is removed (cold water successfully retains more oxygen in solution than warm water), and in the case of sugar, increasing the heat increases the potential saturation of sugar.

    What this means for us the beekeeper, is that if we try to make super strong sugar syrup by getting as much sugar into the water as possible by heating, then yeah its going to crystallize pretty quickly over a few hours and days. If we just try to make 2:1 or 1:1 syrup, unless evaporation has a chance to effect the water content, its not going to crystalize to any noticeable level.

    I don't make feed to stimulate any particular behavior, I just feed new installations of packages to give them the food resources that natural swarms, nucs and splits have on their own. I do try to make as strong a solution as possible because I am trying to give them as much sugar as possible in as few feedings as possible to make enough comb to get a nest going. Once I see they are beginning to store the syrup instead of using it, then I cut it off completely and the hive never gets fed again.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

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    Scot: I never read such a cool explanation on crystal formation in syrup. It is so interesting to hear someone speak on a topic with such a firm opinion and knowledge.
    Thank you so much!

    If I may ask, could you elaborate some on fermentation of sugar syrup?
    Here´s my input: in Guatemala, most beekeepers are feeding syrup (aprox 1:1) to their bees during the rainy season, which goes from June to late October. Most claim that since syrup spoils so quickly, they must go to the yard every 4 days to replace or refill the baggy.
    Can you imagine the cost of travelling to the outyards every 4 days for 5 months??

    The thing now is that many beekeepers do not have access to clean water, and boiling takes costly fuel. Many a time syrup is mixed right at the apiary from creek water. It is very convenient not to carry all that water from home when your means of transportation is a bike or public bus, or even just your own two feet on a two hour hike!!!!
    Adding chlorine to kill yeasts and other critters is probably not a very wholesome approach, since we are "being watched closely by strict standards".
    A chemist once told me to make as thick a syrup as possible, because sugar supersaturation is not a liveable environment for yeasts. The same is rue for honey, so it makes sense.

    But then, be fall back to crystal formation and cost of fuel.

    Please, could you be so kind as to help me unravel this mess? I promise you I will share your advise with many beekeepers who need a wise, authoritative opinion.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,326

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    If spoiling is an issue I'd use at least 2:1 and boil. I know it takes more fuel and time, but it will keep far longer than 1:1 with unboiled water.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    Crystalyzing shouldn't really be a problem. Supersaturating will cause crystallizing, but only until the solution reaches solution equilibrium, or non-super-saturation. You don't have to remove it when its starts to crystalize. Just make sure the holes are big enough so that the openings don't get jammed. I use ziplock bags often, and I just make 3 long cuts so the cuts can't get crystallized shut. The bees will keep on eating it. I have even had them enter the bag when it gets dry and start eating what's left.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

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