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  1. #1
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    Default Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    I am very concerned about my next year. This year I have heavily fed my hives with syrup into the winter. Next year, when I place my supers on for honey harvest, how do I ensure that my syrup does not end up in the supers, especially if they get spring feeding. Bees move their stores all the time, so is there maybe a waiting period before placing supers that one adheres to to ensure that honey is not adulterated? Maybe there are other things I need to think about?
    Last edited by AramF; 10-17-2011 at 01:01 PM. Reason: revise phrasing

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Quote Originally Posted by AramF View Post
    I am very concerned... Bees move their stores all the time, ....
    Where did you get this? I have never heard about bees moving their stores around "all the time". If they have stores in their nest (made from your syrup let's say) and then you put a super on top, why do you think they would go through all the bother of moving it upstairs?

    The only time they move things around would be if they become honey bound with a QE on (which they should not if you're giving them supers in time) or before winter.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    WHat if it is not capped, would they still not move it up? WHen the bees bring in nectar they store it on the bottom during the day and them move it up at night. That's where I get my concerns from.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Quote Originally Posted by AramF View Post
    WHen the bees bring in nectar they store it on the bottom during the day and them move it up at night.
    I didn't know that. I always wondered what bees did at night. Where did you learn this?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Gosh, I think I am going to get in trouble, but I want to say it was from Walts Wright's articles on nectra management. I read so much, I hardly remember anymore where I get this stuff. Maybe it was in the Wisdom of the Hive by Seeley.
    Last edited by AramF; 10-17-2011 at 04:37 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    bees may move nectar but not honey normally. as long as you dont have supers on they will not move it up later. most of the time bees are just lucky to get thru winter without starving.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    I knew they would move stores down into the brood area, but was not aware that they moved it up very much. Most of the spring feeding is burned up as food and brood rearing, not alot of it stored.By the time you put your supers on feeding of syrup has stopped. Jim
    Stop and smell the flowers, 50,000 ladies can't be wrong
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    I never worry about heavy spring feeding on a healthy hive. They burn through all of it very quickly. If you're real concerned, maybe try adding some food coloring in with the syrup and see where it goes.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Bees most certainly can move a significant amount of honey from the brood area to a super. That is one of the fundamental principles that many comb honey management techniques depend on.

    Some things that can help minimize feed in the honey are:

    Using one deep for a brood chamber.
    Wintering in one deep.
    Feeding enough to get the bees to the first dandelion bloom, and not much more.

    As Internal Standard stable carbon Isotope testing becomes more prevalent, those running 3 deeps may have increasing problems meeting the honey standard.

    Crazy Roland

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Thank you everyone for the feedback. Seems like it will be fairly easy to stop my feeding by dandilion blooms or use coloring for quick study of syrup location. Feeling much better.

  11. #11
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    Nashville, TN., USA
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    It will be interesting to know what you see from the traceing by use of the food color test. We all just might learn something here. However, I hope the coloring itself isn't going to harm anything. Has anyone ever used food coloring in bee feed before?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Actually I have seen that bees frequently move their stores around. For one thing they do it to manage and control the laying of the queen. Sort of keep her in her place as fall sets in etc.

    as for the sugar int he honey. they should eat that sugar over the winter and have empty comb in the spring to start filling with honey next year. What I have seen concerning this is to pay attention and don't over feed them. one side of a frame of comb holds about 6 lbs of sugar. look at the frames that are empty or will be and do a little rough math. it will help so they do not have a whole super of sugar at the end of the winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichelinMan View Post
    Where did you get this? I have never heard about bees moving their stores around "all the time". If they have stores in their nest (made from your syrup let's say) and then you put a super on top, why do you think they would go through all the bother of moving it upstairs?

    The only time they move things around would be if they become honey bound with a QE on (which they should not if you're giving them supers in time) or before winter.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    ..one of the things I find interesting about beekeeping is the kind of "natural" response that bees have to an "unnatural situation".

    Adding room above the established colony (be it comb, foundation, or foundationless) is something that rarely (if ever) happens in nature.

    Generally, if left to their own devices, bees will choose an appropriate sized cavity (about the volume of a 10 frame deep), cluster at the top, and build their comb down as needed. You won't often find an unmanaged colony with brood and stores at the bottom of their comb, and empty cells above...as they fill the comb at the top, they move down, building comb if needed. All of this is an attempt to fill the cavity so that they can swarm and reproduce on a colony level.

    Now, in a natural cavity that the bees have chosen, not only is it small (from beekeeper standards), but it is almost inconcieveable that space will appear above the established colony unless comb is damaged by an intruder, a tree falling, etc....it's rare that a contiguious space simply "opens up" above the established colony.

    This is one of the "tricks" beekeepers play on bees. Adding space above compells them to fill the void...with comb, with honey, with brood, with pollen...probably not much different than we are "compelled" to panic if space is added below us (think of Wile E. Coyote when he realizes he has just run off the cliff and is standing in mid air).

    The bees will repair damaged comb above them (Dee talks about foundation as being seen by the bees as damaged comb...I think she is correct on this), they will fill empty comb in earnest when it is placed above the colony, even if the bees have not filled the space they have (placing comb below the colony will give them room if they need it, but it does not compel them in the same way).

    Bees will move honey around the hive as needed...generally towards the top of the hive...if the "honey" is sugar syrup, that is what gets moved.

    From what I can tell, beekeepers are happy to tell one another (and their customers) that the feed doesn't make it into the honey...but I know of few (if any) that have actually tried to figure out if this is true.

    Dark food coloring in the feed is one way (if the feed doesn't make it into the honey, then the coloring won't either). We have had honey tested for sugar adulteration....we found some that tested pure (those not feeding as well as some that do feed somtimes...but very conscientiously). Most of what was sold as local honey on the health food store shelves (some was actually locally produced, some was not) was found to be 5-30% beet or corn sugar. I don't expect that this was the result of blending, it was likely from feeding.

    On a side note, one thing we found is that the larger producers (the ones who also sell in bulk to other beekeepers for them to sell as "their own honey") had honey under their own name that tested pure..but honey being sold by others that had been supplied by the same large producer tested up to 30% beet sugar. To me, this shows that the producers know what their good honey is, and what their not so good honey is. They put their label on the good stuff, and the other is sold by other beekeepers as their own honey from their own bees...is never tested (small markets instead of large retailers), is sold by the beekeeper as "the best" and "pure" ...when the beekeeper doesn't even know.

    deknow

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Quote Originally Posted by AramF View Post
    Bees move their stores all the time, so is there maybe a waiting period before placing supers that one adheres to to ensure that honey is not adulterated?
    If you truly are concerned about syrup not getting into honey than don't feed, leave them honey. If it is a do or die decision on feeding do so only for survival. Then don't take any honey from the first super. Let that be theirs. Don't put the second super on until the first is 75-80% full. And from now on stop feeding syrup or sugar. Leave more honey than they need.

    Good luck.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Acebird, I totally agree. My issue is that I am first year keeper and our flow was complete disaster this year. Don't have any choice but to feed.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Well, the concensus seems to be that bees move their stores around a lot. But at the risk of standing alone on this one, I'm going to stick to my guns. The original log entry said he fed a lot of syrup in the fall and wanted to prevent that syrup from getting into his honey the next spring. I (perhaps mistakenly) thought he was talking about sealed stores. This is what I was responding to. I did not visualize that there would still be liquid syrup left in open cells come spring time. It takes a lot of bee-energy to make wax and seal up cells and I don't think they go around opening up cells "all the time" just to move the contents and reseal. Liquid syrup or nectar is another subject. It gets moved as part of the process of honey making. But my experience is that syrup given in the fall gets processed, sealed and eventually consumed. Come spring time whatever stores are left are definitely sealed. And there is always plenty of empty cells so the queen has a lot of laying space. I do not see them decapping cells come spring time just to make space and move the honey upstairs. I may be totaly wrong here but that's what my experience has taught me.

    Luc
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    Luc, I think you are not alone in thinking this way. Only thing I can add is that according to Walt Wright bees will actually uncap their stores just before the main flow and use up all of their stored honey, so as not to go into another year with it. Then they'll fill it up with fresh nectar and eventually honey. I checked my hive yesterday, 1/2 of the syrup is capped, the other half is still open. I bet they'll use up the syrup before uncapping also.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Prevention of Sugar syrup in honey

    I agree with Michelin Man on the moving of capped stores. I do not think it happens. Too much energy went into placing it and capping it. As well, most fall stores are consumed by spring. I know this cause when i go into the hives to check stores come spring, they are very light in weight and NEED feed.
    I think the biggest problem with syrup contaminating honey is, spring feeding or rather over feeding to the point which they store the syrup. Or feeding in a dearth without removing honey which has been collected.
    In areas where the flows are more often in a year, I could see this happening, especially with new beekeepers.
    Some ideas to help keep syrup from contaminating honey:
    1. If you are going to feed, feed to stimulate bee growth not comb growth, UNLESS placing new bees on foundation. Let the bees work for you and let them draw out honey super comb during the flow. $ wise it is cheaper for them to draw comb for honey supers during a flow. They can build it fast.
    2. If you are feeding in a dearth between flows, remove the honey which has been gathered, reduce the boxes to your brood chambers only. This ensures your pure honey source. Feeding with supers on is just a problem waiting to happen
    3. Spring feeding should not get packed in. The energy needs are high at this time. Feed usually does not get stored but consumed. Keep an eye on the hive and once they start to store, remove the feed. Letting them pack in the syrup only leads to swarming tendancies, which defeats the reason why we feed in the spring for hive growth.
    4. Realize fall feeding is different than spring feeding. Spring is to encourage bee growth, fall is to shore up or add to the winter stores. Most feed here is consumed over the course of the winter.

    In the field, learn the difference between a heavy hive and a light one. Grab the bottom board from the front and lift with one hand. Do this several times a year so you know what where and when. Scales work great but it is another piece of equipment to own and move about. Check the weights before fall feeding, post fall feeding, early in the spring and while spring feeding. Simple, easy to do and cheap.

    Also know your flows. As a new beekeeper, it is hard to know. But as you gain experience, you will know and will be able to tim e the feedings to the flows. A handy calender works well for this. Treat feeding like you would treat syrup with fumigillan in it...give yourself a withdrawal time, so they can consume any stores in the hive. The trick though, is to not let the hive get low on stores before the flow starts that they end up shutting the queen down in the prime hive growing season.

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