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Thread: Sugar Syrup

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Baxley, GA
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    Default Sugar Syrup

    I made up a 1:1 batch of sugar syrup yesterday in anticipation of receiving my bees today. My supplier, a few towns over, called and asked if he could post-pone delivery one week. Now, I've got a couple gallons of sugar syrup made up with no bees to feed it to. How long will it keep? I'll store it inside, but don't have room for it in the refrigerator. Is there anything I can do to extend its shelf life?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    2,496

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Mix in some HBH or EO's.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Yup, essential oils would work. Refrigerator would work really good. Or you can can the syrup --

    In a large stockpot, bring syrup to a simmer (don't need to boil hard). Hold the syrup at a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Immediately pour the hot syrup into VERY CLEAN canning jars -- preferably run the jars through the dishwasher and keep them in the clean, hot dishwasher until right before use. Leave about 1/2 inch of head space (air space) in each jar.

    Cap the filled jars with unused canning jar lids and rings that have also been run through the dishwasher (or gently simmered for 5 minutes in plain water and just left submerged in the hot water until use). Hand tighten the rings with moderately firm pressure. Don't need to crank the rings hard -- think "moderately firm" from a woman's perspective.

    Invert the capped jars so the hot syrup covers the inside of the lid. Leave for a minute or two to disinfect the lids and neck area of the jars.

    Put jars right side up and arrange jars so they are not touching. Allow to cool, undisturbed, until they are at room temperature. The lids should "pop" inward as the syrup cools. This indicates an airtight seal. If a lid doesn't pop, store the jar in the fridge until use.

    This is the old fashioned way of canning syrups and clear jellies. There is some risk of mold growth with this method, but if you pay attention to cleanliness and keeping everything HOT when you fill and cap the jars, this method will work very well.

    The more modern way adds the insurance of a "boiling water bath" to ensure sterility. Follow all steps through capping the jars. Omit turning the jars upside down. Put the capped jars into a large canning kettle filled with water at a rolling boil. When the water returns to a rolling boil after adding the jars, let the jars stay in the water bath for 10 minutes, then remove and cool as described above.

    --DeeAnna

  4. #4
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    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    7,107

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    citric acid helps too, I would be cautious with boiling and extended heat, a by-product HMF develops in sugars with time and heat, highly toxic to bees
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    381

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Yanno, I've heard this issue mentioned by others, but such comments don't offer enough information to make truly informed decisions. In a quick check today, the only references I could find about the toxicity of hydroxymethylfurfural in honeybees were studies of its formation in heated high fructose corn syrup, not sugar syrup. Got anything more concrete?

    A simmer is only about 180 to 190 degrees F, by the way.

    --DeeAnna

  6. #6
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    Aug 2007
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    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
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    676

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Caramelization is a bigger concern with sugar syrup than HMF's. And, the caramelizing process begins at 180 degrees and continues with either time on the heat, or increased heat.

    But, seriously here... We're talking about ONLY one week! I've used syrup that's been 6 months in a bucket out in the garage. No problems. You don't want a fermented or "beery" smell. Too much fermented honey or sugar water can cause dysentary, but it's clearly warm enough for them to take cleansing flights. Any mold growth in the stored syrup (which in a week, there shouldn't be any) isn't a problem for the bees, anyhow.

    Now, with that being said, Honey B Healthy (or a similar product) seems to prevent mold growth and retard fermentation. I'm currently using HBH treated syrup that was made up last October in my spring hives. It was stored outside and obviously frozen at points throughout the thick of winter. But, no problems whatsoever.

    Good luck. If I can give one piece of take home advice from this, it's be, don't over complicate beekeeping; they're just bugs, and you'll enjoy it more.

    Happy beekeeping,
    DS

  7. #7
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    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    "...seriously here... We're talking about ONLY one week!..."
    "...don't over complicate beekeeping..."

    You make some good points, DS.

    I tend to look at things from a "people food" standpoint. I personally would not want to eat sugar syrup that has been sitting on the counter for a week, unless I'm making wine (or mead)!

    But that's me, not the bees.

    --DeeAnna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon City, Oregon
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    991

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    I don't know how big your batch is, but say 1 gallon then a half cap of household bleach is fine It's in all municipal water systems and the bees don't seem to have any adverse reactions to it...
    Honeydew

  9. #9
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    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Find a local HFCS guy and use that instead it does not go bad as quickly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Baxley, GA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Thanks for all the replys.

  11. #11
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    Mar 2011
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    wake, nc usa
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    4

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    - slightly off topic -
    i made syrup yesterday, it is slightly brown normal?

    also, what are the abbreviations used earlier?

    thanks.
    it's all beek to me

  12. #12
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    Nov 2010
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    Charles Town, WV
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    I hope so, as the syrup I made 2 weeks ago is also slightly tanish. My package is delayed to next Sunday. Syrup has been in the fridge since it was made. I'm assuming it'll keep ok. Someone please let me know if that's a bad idea.

    HFCS= high fructose corn syrup. Used by some instead of making sugar syrup.
    EO= essential oils. Some people add various EOs to treat for various things and promote overall health.
    HBH= HoneyBee Healthy. A commercial products containing EOs and other things.

    B

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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    276

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Boy... lots of solutions for this one. Here's another. If you're affraid it might ferment/mold just add more sugar. 2:1 syrup will last a long time. And any ratio in between like 1.5:1, 1.75:1 etc... will increase the syrup's life span considerably. The only reason we don't go beyond 2:1 is that sugar won't disolve much past 2:1.
    Good luck with your bees.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  14. #14
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    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Hey, guys, your syrup should be water clear or possibly a very pale yellow. If it's darker than that, you've burned the sugar. That's not a good idea, unless you want to make caramels.

    If you are heating the water to make the sugar dissolve faster, heat all of the water, then stir in just part of the sugar. Stir, stir, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Repeat.

    Some folks on BeeSource say to just use very hot water from the tap. That would completely eliminate the issue of burning the sugar. Any color in a syrup made this way would be from the sugar itself, not (obviously) from being overheated while making the syrup.

    If you dump the sugar in a kettle, dump the water on top, and turn the burner on to "flame thrower", you can get in trouble real quick. Not to mention make the syrup not so good for bees.

    Maybe someone with more experience than I can chime in here with an opinion whether you should feed this syrup to the bees.

    --DeeAnna
    Last edited by DeeAnna; 04-11-2011 at 01:19 PM.

  15. #15
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    Jan 2011
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    Clackamas Oregon
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    788

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    So how does a candy board work? I took mine up 260, added a splash of my EO mixture and made a couple of candy boards. The end result was an amber candy about thick. I would think I could read through it. Did I just put 15 lbs of poison on my hives?

  16. #16
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    Nov 2009
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    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Quote Originally Posted by DeeAnna View Post
    Hey, guys, your syrup should be water clear or possibly a very pale yellow. If it's darker than that, you've burned the sugar. That's not a good idea, unless you want to make caramels.
    If you are heating the water to make the sugar dissolve faster, heat all of the water, then stir in just part of the sugar. Stir, stir, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Repeat.
    That's right. I used to be in the candy making business.
    Brownish means you've burned the sugar. No good.
    Put your water in a pot, bring to a boil, boil for a minute or two to help kill any bacteria. Then turn the heat OFF, and add the sugar and stir until dissolved. You don't need to 'cook' the syrup at all!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  17. #17
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    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Minz -- I know about candy making in general and about how easy it is to burn sugar, but that's the extent of my personal expertise.

    Earlier in this thread, someone mentioned a particular chemical -- hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) -- that is toxic to bees.

    I learned it can be formed when common sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is overheated and begin to caramelize (turn color). I don't know if a little color (a little bit of caramelization) in sugar syrup is okay, but a lot of color is not ... or if ANY color is a no-no.

    I hope someone else who does know more about feeding bees will help answer your question. --D

    PS: Caramelized sugar syrup would not normally be cloudy or opaque. It should be transparent with an amber to brown tint.
    Last edited by DeeAnna; 04-11-2011 at 07:54 PM. Reason: added ps

  18. #18
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    Nov 2010
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    Charles Town, WV
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    306

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Quote Originally Posted by Omie View Post
    Put your water in a pot, bring to a boil, boil for a minute or two to help kill any bacteria. Then turn the heat OFF, and add the sugar and stir until dissolved. You don't need to 'cook' the syrup at all!
    That's how I did mine. The only thing is I didn't take the pot off of the hot burner. It's not at all dark, but it's not clear, either. I'll dump and try again.

  19. #19
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    Jan 2011
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    Clackamas Oregon
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    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    I found this using the search: “Caramelized syrup may cause dysentery. It does NOT cause nosema.” In this thread: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ght=caramelize
    I got a couple of nuc’s installed this last weekend and the wife is freaking out. I must have had 500-1000 bees in the air first day and as soon as it hit 50 degree’s in the second day. If cleansing flights are needed they are doing it. I did not see any “spots” of bee poop on the top lids. Maybe I could give them a couple of days and remove the bottom of the SBB? I actually pulled the entrance reducer on one hive due to the back up at the entrance.

  20. #20
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    Nov 2010
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    Charles Town, WV
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    306

    Default Re: Sugar Syrup

    Well, paranoia made me dump out the syrup I made 2 weeks ago and make a new batch. Boiled the water 3 minutes, then moved the pot to a cool burner. Waited 10 minutes. Stirred the sugar in a little at a time. The resulting syrup is exactly the same color as what I dumped out (hope that much sugar doesn't screw up the septic tank now). The color is somewhere betweenTHISand THIS and you can see through it without any cloudiness.

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