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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Swalwell, AB
    Posts
    581

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    There was a small variation between honey and HFCS but it was statistically insignificant. The interesting thing is they lived longer on sucrose.
    A number of researchers have done this comparison or variants on it, I believe.

    Syrup made from white sugar and good water resembles nectar chemically, although I am sure there must be some small differences. My understanding, though is that refined sugar is quite pure. The water used to make syrup can be something to watch.
    Jerry Bromenshenk indicated some time back that fluorides are a cumulative toxin for bees and if their principal source of water is high fluoride, which occurs some places naturally (like here in my home town), the bees may not do well. Normally, this is not a problem, but the effect was noticed where the bees were gathering from a spring with high fluoride.
    HFCS is made by a variety of processes and may have varying levels of titratable acid, and apparently, even if a specific HFCS is fine for humans, it can damage bees digestion, especially in wintering conditions where it may be the sole feed.

    Honey is a product that can vary greatly in composition, so generalities are quite meaningless, unless the type is specified. Additionally, HMF builds up quite rapidly in honey kept in warm environments and over a few years, so old honey, even in comb, can have high HMF. Some honies are mildly toxic to confined bees. Others are high in solids that accumulate over time in the bees guts, causing them to fly out.

    Beekeepers generally know their local honies that are toxic or bad for wintering and try to be sure to extract them and either let the bees replace them with better honey, feed the bees up with sugar syrup, or keep a food chamber of spring honey to use in fall.

    The upshot is that, if the winter is not challenging as in the deep south, and the bees are otherwise well nourished and populous, good HFCS, table sugar syrup or good honey all can do a good job.

    Where winters are longer and colder, the quality of feed becomes more important. Sugar syrup, properly prepared and fed early enough that it is mostly capped over is probably the safest bet, but a known-good recent-crop honey may be as good or better, especially if known-good (not toxic or contaminated) pollen has been stored under the honey.

    HFCS can approach the others and is definitely better than poor quality honey, but why take a chance? Even good HFCS has shown slightly shorter bee lifespan in caged bee studies compared to sugar syrup, and in winter lifespan is the name of the game.

    Seeing a small difference in real world bee hives is difficult without comparisons and accurate metrics. As stated, all the feeds above do get bees through the winter more times than not. Is one better than the other in a specific instance? It is so hard to tell. That is why smart beekeepers read, think, ask around locally, and use the best that is available to them.

    When I was a commercial operator, I always fed 67% sugar syrup in September, then again in mid-October to make sure all the hives (doubles) were up to desired weight (55kg minimum, incl lids, buit not floors) and had very low loss (I had also fed Global Patties in spring, and that was a factor in our success).

    In recent years, since I cut back to hobbying, I have wintered on just honey, since I do not extract and the hives are always very heavy. My success is about the same.

    As for whether cane is better than beet, we are assured by the scientists that there is little difference. I don't know, though. Some beekeepers claim there is a difference. As for pesticide contamination, I doubt that there is a measurable amount or we'd be hearing about it, as we did about mercury in HFCS. (That, as far as I know was overdone. There is mercury in everything if we look close enough, but time will tell).

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

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    just another 'must read' allend snip..

    Syrup made from white sugar and good water resembles nectar chemically, although I am sure there must be some small differences. My understanding, though is that refined sugar is quite pure. The water used to make syrup can be something to watch.

    Jerry Bromenshenk indicated some time back that fluorides are a cumulative toxin for bees and if their principal source of water is high fluoride, which occurs some places naturally (like here in my home town), the bees may not do well. Normally, this is not a problem, but the effect was noticed where the bees were gathering from a spring with high fluoride.

    tecumseh:
    since I mix up my own sucrose for feeding I have wondered about the various compounds that might be in the local drining water and if any of these might be a concern in regards to the syrup for the bees. I seem to recall that there are certain salts that may be attractive to the bees??? Do you (allend) know of any source that might reference compounds to be absolutely avoided in regards to making up syrup (ie salts or compounds in the water that might produce negative side effects).

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