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Thread: Feed honey?

  1. #1
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    Feed honey?

    Why don't we feed bees honey instead of 1:1 syrup? Can we dilute honey in water and feed this? Sorry if this is a stupid question.

  2. #2
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    Not a stupid question . There are no stupid questions, just (sometimes) stupid answers!

    Sugar is cheaper per pound than honey. Most beeks remove the surplus honey and sell it ($8 per lb or so), and then if needed, feed back sugar syrup ($2 per lb). Of course, the idea is to leave enough honey that you don't need to feed them, but it's not always as simple as that.

    There is nothing wrong with feeding back honey if you have it and want to, though it's recommended to only feed with honey from a known source, ie your own hives, as honey can carry AFB spores and the like and infect your hives.

  3. #3
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    I often open feed. Unless I use an entrance reducer (down to smallest size) no matter what I do, robbing starts when I feed within my hives.
    Anyway, when I feed sugar syrup, no real problem...the girls behave like ladies. Now, the few times I dilluted honey to feed back, the "ladies" turned into knife-slashing street skanks. When the frenzy is done, there is a pile of dead bees. The odor of honey- even dilluted, just sets them off. I have gotton to the point that I hate to even have to let them clean out supers...yikes...what a battle. So, that is just my opinion...feeding honey, even dilluted, comes with risks...not just disease.

  4. #4
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    >Why don't we feed bees honey instead of 1:1 syrup? Can we dilute honey in water and feed this?

    When feeding honey I never dilute it. It spoils quickly when diluted. I would feed it straight.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Legion© View Post
    There is nothing wrong with feeding back honey if you have it and want to, though it's recommended to only feed with honey from a known source, ie your own hives, as honey can carry AFB spores and the like and infect your hives.
    Realistically, how big of a risk is this? We recently put my mother-in-law in a nursing home. While cleaning out her house, I found a gallon container of SueBee honey that I was thinking of feeding to my bees if they run low on stores during the winter. Now I'm thinking I may be better off donating it to the local food bank.

  6. #6
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    Default suebee

    i would guess that honey would have been pasturized. if it has, wouldn't that kill any disease it might have carried?
    -M@

  7. #7
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    Besides open feeding, can you feed the honey in the hive using a bucket feeder? Do you have to dilute it before feeding? I have a gallon of honey that was left with the top off in my and a few roaches drown in it.

    Thanks
    Fannbee

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FANNBEE View Post
    Besides open feeding, can you feed the honey in the hive using a bucket feeder? Do you have to dilute it before feeding? I have a gallon of honey that was left with the top off in my and a few roaches drown in it.

    Thanks
    I wouldnt dilute it I would feed it straight to them using a pail feeder

  9. #9
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    Default Feed honey?

    We are thinking of feeding honey back to one of our weaker hives. I plan to do it by placing a honey super with filled frames above the inner cover and let them go to it. However, the ventilation gap on the inner cover has to be screened. Also, remove any "Imrie shims." One year I forgot those extra ventilation shims and I had one of our best hives robbed out. As was mentioned, the girls can become the sharks of the insect world when they go into robbing mode. I also think that the later in the year it is, the more scarce the sources become and the intensity of the robbing increases. So, I too am restricting the entrances to very small while feeding syrup or honey on all the hives, even the ones that do not get fed.
    Take care and have fun.

  10. #10
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    newbeematt, Commercial honey is often heated and filtered, but it is not truly pasteurized as that high a temp. would destroy the honey. SO the answer is no it is not safe because it is commercial honey - in fact it is NOT safe because it is from and unknown source. Ironically, if the jar is sealed and looks good it is fine for human consumption though.

    FANNBEE: As for the honey with a couple roaches drowning in it. As long as it is your honey from your own disease free hives - then yes I would feed it back to them. I have had similar problems with ants getting in honey pails in the garage. I'll let the bees have at it and I get nice clean dead ants when done.
    Troy

  11. #11
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    I am totally NOT an expert here, but I have read that honey (from a good clean source) is fine to feed as long as it's not mid-winter when the bees might be reluctant to make cleansing flights, and consequently become sick from a toxic build up of waste. Refined sugar is more of a pure carbohydrate source which is more completely converted to energy than honey, and therefore creates less waste material to be excreted (poop). This of course does not necessarily mean that their own honey stores aren't better for them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Hall View Post
    I am totally NOT an expert here, but I have read that honey (from a good clean source) is fine to feed as long as it's not mid-winter when the bees might be reluctant to make cleansing flights, and consequently become sick from a toxic build up of waste. Refined sugar is more of a pure carbohydrate source which is more completely converted to energy than honey, and therefore creates less waste material to be excreted (poop). This of course does not necessarily mean that their own honey stores aren't better for them.
    Tim,

    I am not sure where you read that, but it sounds pretty suspect to me. What is the difference in feeding them honey in mid-winter that you have previously robbed from them and letting them keep it in their stores and they feed it to themselves in mid-winter? It makes far more sense to me to regard honey as better feed in all instances since it is "what the bees make". Further more, since honey is approx. 31% glucose, 38% fructose and only 1% sucrose, this means that the bees do not have to spend extra energy to break it down as they do with 100% sucrose, so the energy conversion claim you quoted does not make sense either.
    Last edited by Gene Weitzel; 10-02-2007 at 01:46 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    It makes far more sense to me to regard honey as better feed in all instances since it is "what the bees make".
    that is exactly why i divvied up the fall flow between my less built up hives from my large overwintered colonies. if you want to feed honey back to the bees, imo it's much easier to do while it's still in the comb. i might add that this was so much easier than standing over a stove mixing sugar syrup in order to have enough to fill empty feeders, keeping a constant eye on the feeders, drowning bees in feeders, attracting ants, etc...
    http://208.69.121.208/forums/showthr...866#post265866

  14. #14
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    >can you feed the honey in the hive using a bucket feeder?

    Sure.

    > Do you have to dilute it before feeding?

    No. And I wouldn't.

    The best way to feed a weak hive is give them some combs of capped honey from a strong heavy hive and feed the strong heavy hive if it needs it. That way the strong hive is less likely to rob the weak hive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Default My Bad

    Gene,

    I had indeed gotten some info jumbled up in my head. What Ross Conrad states on p45 of "Natural Beekeeping" is that honey is indeed the best thing for them...organic refined white sugar is second best, while stuff like brown sugar, raw sugar, etc. has "indigestible parts" (not less fuel-efficient parts)which can be bad if bees are reluctant to relieve themselves in the cold. My apologies for the error. Like I said, I'm NOT the expert here.
    Last edited by Tim Hall; 10-02-2007 at 05:18 PM.

  16. #16

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    What about crystalized honey? Could I scoop it onto a candyboard?
    "To bee or not to bee"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by newbee 101 View Post
    What about crystalized honey? Could I scoop it onto a candyboard?
    you can melt it back down in the microwave or put a jar of crystallized honey into a pot of boiling water and it's like it just came out of the comb. be sure not to overheat.

  18. #18
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    Feeding "in" winter I would agree not to dilute the honey. Feeding now, I do dilute it by about 25%. As it will not be in the feeder more than 2 or 3 hours.

    I will also agree completely that it will cause the honey to ferment quickly when it's diluted. But this time of year the bees will take it greedily just the same.

    So the question is? Do the bees get a "buzz" from their beer honey??

  19. #19
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    Crystallized honey can be fed either in a frame feeder that has access all the way across (like the plastic ones from Mann Lake etc.) or in a file folder with some slits in it and placed next to the cluster. Next to the cluster is a good place for winter feed if the hive is light in late winter.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Feed honey?

    Something happened to my colony, I suspect "CCD" (no sign of foulbrood, mites, etc.) I collected 5 gals. of honey, and thought to use it for winter feeding of a new colony. But since then I've learned I should destroy the old hive to prevent possible cross infection. Doesn't that mean I should also not feed the honey to other bees?

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