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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    Default High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    First, I noticed online that this is very, very cheap, and then I found out that it can be harmful. It can be harmful especially when it's hot out, and in Texas, we've already experienced over 100 degrees fahrenheit and it's not even July. I found sugar to be extremely expensive, so using sugar syrup as a feed is beyond my budget. Has anybody else had a problem with HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup? What about in the heat?

    --Also, if I absolutely cannot use HFCS, where can I buy VERY cheap, bulky packs of sugar in an urban/ suburban area?
    THANKS

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Arlee MT USA
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    What do you consider cheap for sugar?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    The best price that I can find for any quantity of sugar is BJs or Sams club. Currently $14.69 for 25lb bags. The restaurant supply houses usually are higher. If you need a few bags, supermarkets often will use four or five lb bags as a loss leader. Here in CT, HFCS is not readily available. I have seen posts here mentioning people selling sugar for less money, but after you figure shipping, it is no deal.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
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    854

    Cool Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Nothing is cheap when it comes to feeding bees. HFCS is cheaper then sugar, but sugar is a lot cheaper then HONEY.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    2,644

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Quote Originally Posted by drmanhadan View Post
    First, I noticed online that this is very, very cheap, and then I found out that it can be harmful. It can be harmful especially when it's hot out, and in Texas, we've already experienced over 100 degrees fahrenheit and it's not even July. I found sugar to be extremely expensive, so using sugar syrup as a feed is beyond my budget. Has anybody else had a problem with HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup? What about in the heat?

    --Also, if I absolutely cannot use HFCS, where can I buy VERY cheap, bulky packs of sugar in an urban/ suburban area?
    THANKS
    HFCS is the standard bee feed for larger scale operators. if you have less than say 10 hives its not worth the hassles. You need to find a wholesale outlet which can be a pain based on your location, it needs to be stored out of sunlight for best longevity, and you do have to watch degridation. Keep it shaded and cool and it works fine. keep it too cool and it will crystalize...... ( a real pain in a bulk container) You can buy small quantaies from Mann lake, or get you a bulk tank. I have a 500 gallon tank I fill once a year. it weighs 6800 lbs full.....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Olmsted Falls, OH
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    52

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Good question! I will be running 12 hives next year and mixing up 12-24 gallons of sugar syrup a week is going to be royal pain in the butt. I am considering buying some 55 gallon drums of HFCS for next season and wondered about the ups and downs to that idea.

    Jay

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,451

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    I dont think it is harmful to feed when the temps are high. What is harmful is to store it in high temps for an extended period. It undergoes some sort of chemical change and the resulting "yellowed" feed can be harmful to bees.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
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    136

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    wouldn't storing it at high temperatures be the same at serving it in high temperatures?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Southbury, CT
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    If you bought these bees as a package the can of syrup that came with them was HFCS.

    There is a lot of controversy around feeding HFCS and a lot of miss- information. So here is the lowdown.
    HFCS is about 75% Glucose and Fructose and 25% water
    Cain and beet sugar is Sucrose which is Glucose and Fructose bound together.
    From a chemical standpoint the only difference in them is the lack of water which we add when we make the syrup. The water breaks the sucrose into it's monosaccharides of Glucose and Fructose.

    There is no difference in them once we make it into syrup. And don't let anybody tell you one is worse then another as it is absolutely false.

    Neither one is the complete and balanced diet that honey provides. The two main sugars in honey is also Glucose and Fructose.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    A slight correction:

    Sucrose is one glucose molecue and one fructose molecule covalently connected into a single molecule. It will come apart in water solution, but only if heated in the presence of acid. It contains equal parts of glucose and fructose when hydrolyzed by the acid, and this solution is called "invert sugar". HFCS and sucrose solutions are NOT the same -- sucrose is a non-reducing sugar and is much less chemically reactive than either glucose or fuctose. Bees can use either as a substitute for honey, and invert a considerable amount of the sucrose they collect in nectar (which only contains sucrose unless spoiled).

    High fructose corn syrup contains much more fructose than glucose (so does honey sometimes, it varies). In highly purifed form it is fine, but when heated some of the reducing sugars get converted into hydroxymethylfurfural. This compound is highly toxic to bees and has caused problems in the past. It can form in significant quantities at temperatures as low as 120F, so a tanker sitting in the Texas sun for a day will likely have more HMF than one would desire in the syrup. HMF is brown, and so are some of the other materials formed when heating sugar syrups (think caramel), so a yellow or brownish tint indicates some heat exposure and degradation.

    Kept cool during shipping, stored so it won't get exposed to excessive heat, and used promptly, it will be fine. As noted above, it's not an easy substance to use for a hobby beekeeper, it's actually easier to mix up small quantities of sucrose syrup for supplemental feeding. When you have dozens of hives, it makes more sense since it's cheaper, you don't have to mix it, and it's easily pump dispensed. You can fill feeders with a hose nozzle similar to the ones on gasoline pumps from a large tank on a truck.

    As in all things with bees, it depends on the exact situation.

    I will also add that if you are routinely feeding sugar syrup of any kind, you should also be checking pollen stores and feeding a protein supplement if pollen stores are low -- the bees need protein for brood, and inadequate protein in the fall will result in hive failures in the spring.

    Peter

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
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    392

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Be that as it may, I am quite certain that over the millions of years that honeybees have probably thrived upon this orbiting rock, they never encountered high fructose corn syrup. I'm also certain that I, a hobbyist beek, do not want to eat whatever a honeybee might manage to produce from such a product, which I (by the way...) very studiously also avoid consuming myself.

    I suppose that I am a subscriber to the principle that honeybees do not require our "helpful assistance." Perhaps give them a bit of dry sugar when you've dumped a box of bees into a box ... but just don't buy into the idea that honeybees will die without your constant intervention. (If they might, then the situation you have created for them is grievously unnatural... and you and your friends are going to wind up eating that. Yuck!) Make sure they've got access to water, access to flowers, and enough honey in reserve, and a hive-location that's not burning relentlessly in the summer heat or blasted with the winds of winter. Bees are ancient survivors. And you are a hobbyist.

    Be a diligent and attentive steward, yes. But stoutly resist the urge to meddle, "lest ye do harm, verily, by means of thy goodly intentions."

  12. #12
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    Jul 2011
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Ah, but I want to have a hive more than a couple years, and I want to obtain honey from it. Neither is particularly natural, any more than raising chickens is.

    The "all natural, let them take care of themselves" beekeeping style helps mostly to keep producers of packages and nucs in business, since it's the natural course of things for honey bee hives to swarm every single spring (several times) and periodically die out, with no excess honey to speak of. If you want honey, or even healthy excess bees, you must manage them in order to keep them healthy and strong enough to produce excess.

    There is nothing "natural" about keeping bees in rectangular wooden boxes on removable frames, either.

    In a year like the one we are having here (less than 0.2" of rain in two months, and no real expectation for more until "late september", which meant two years about the second week in November, if you don't feed them something you will have dead bees long before winter. This is exactly what happens with no beekeeper intervention, they all die. Very natural, but no excess honey for the beekeeper, no bees next year.

    Beekeeping means managing semi-domesticated livestock. A year or two of "natural" hog or cattle farming would cure you of silly ideas about livestock 'taking care of itself' -- they would have wandered off or died long before they got large enough to butcher.

    "Natural" no intervention child rearing doesn't work very well, either.

    Peter

  13. #13
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    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    From what I can see, using sugar is more supported mainly because there is less "risk" involved, but using HFCS is much more practical. If I were to use the sugar syrup, which is starting to seem more likely, mainly because it will only be one hive, how should I go about making it/storing it? OR If I were to use HFCS, where can I buy a small bucket or quantity on the cheap and with ease?

  14. #14
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    either method is perfectly fine. with one hive the easiest/ chapest is to buy sugar at wal mart, and make up a gallon like cool aid.

    M Robinsion, your entitled to your thoughts and to raise your bees anyway you like, but this thread was about HFCS. Please respect that question, and share your thoughts on your own post.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Olmsted Falls, OH
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    52

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Thanks for the facts guys.

    As for natural beekeeping better find a hollow tree dump your bees and walk away. As mentioned there is nothing natural about manipulating boxes of bees. I am in it to produce some level of income and will balance efficiency and quality as best I can.

    Can you purchase HFCS by barrels? And does anybody know how much a barrel weighs? I know Mann Lake and Dadant sell bulk HFCS but are there local places I should look before driving to Kentucky for 3 or 4 barrels this winter?

    Jay

  16. #16
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    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    "practical" depends on your situation. A hobby beek with two or four hives isn't going to want to buy a stainless steel tank and have a truck deliver HFCS and then use less than 10 gal. per year. Vastly easier to mix up a couple gallons of sucrose syrup from a 25 lbs bag from the grocery store once a week (at most).

    2000 hives in half a dozen or more outyards, that tank on the truck makes much more sense -- install feeders and fill them all up in a day or two with no bother with mixing, lifting, etc.

    I would certainly NOT go out of my way to buy a 5 gal pail of HFCS. If you can pick it up on the way home from work, no big deal, but otherwise a couple big bags of sugar is easier.

    A 55 gal. barrel of HFCS should weight around 700 lbs. You will need equipment to move it.

    Peter

  17. #17
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    Apr 2012
    Location
    Kent,WA
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    2

    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Do you need to dilute HFCS to feed?

  18. #18
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    Jun 2012
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    Dallas, Texas
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    I've read of people using the HFCS straight from the tank to the feeder, but diluting it helps ensure HMF doesn't form as easily.

  19. #19
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    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Depends on why you are feeding. Fall feeding for winter stores, should be as purchased, spring or summer feeding to establish a hive or stimulate brood production, dilute.

    HMF forms in concentrated solutions at high temps, unlikely in the hive itself since the bees run the AC, but storage tanks in the sun can be a problem. Diluting it will also make it susceptible to fermentation, too.

    Peter

  20. #20
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) feed

    Normaly you feed diluted HFCS in spring and straight in the fall. Diluted will help brood development, But I am told that Sucrose diluted is the best.

    Either way Spring is diluted 50% BUT WILL MOLD so I dilute it only as I am ready to feed myself. after Aug 1 I take all honey and feed the HEck out of HFCS for winter
    A drum is right at 600lbs, you can buy them from kellys Not sure how many hives you have but you can figure about 50lbs per hive for fall feeding.

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