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  1. #1
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    Default Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    What do people think about crystallized honey as food for bees? I am wondering if there is a benefit for the bees that some honey crystallizes in the comb. I have heard some say that it is the last honey the bees will use which implies that it is an insurance policy. Certainly the bees cannot have a taste preference.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    I would have thought it was used last because it is harder for them to use?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    I'm fairly certain that honey bees have no notion of "insurance" or actuarial science . On the other hand, bee's "taste" preferences have been well documented.

    If the bees show a preference outside the hive (see Wisdom of the Hive by Thomas Seeley) I wouldn't be surprised if they show a preference for certain cells of honey in the hive.

    I have never read of there being a benefit to having crystallized honey...
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    I was under the impression it was hard for them to process and eat as well.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    processing crystalized honey cant be any harder for them than candy boards or granulated sugar dumped on the top bars in winter months.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    which are foods they use when the honey is gone no ?

  7. #7
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    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Often the quick crystalizing honeys such as Aster have a higher ash and of course solids content so are harder for bees to process and digest, especially in the winter months. In the early days we most often saw disentary in the yards with big aster flows. Having said that, uch of the honey we have here crystallizes quickly and most of the hives use it w/o issues. I don't know about bees having taste buds but they always pick the most potent nectar. I know when we put bees on Buckwheat if anything else is in bloom they'll fly over a mega bloom of buckwheat to get to clover.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    I cant blame them for ignoring the Buckwheat.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Do we know why they choose clover over buckwheat? Could it be timing? I am just thinking here ... could be clover nectar is short lived and if they don't get it first they will miss it.
    You might wonder why I am asking these questions. This week I put out a pan of honey scraps that could be as much as three years old and crystallized. The bees feasted on it but not with the frenzy they did a couple / three weeks ago. Of course back then they had more competition with the wasps. Three weeks ago it appeared as though they were sucking it up and now it looked like they were licking it up. It was ten degrees warmer back then.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Hmm, I guess I forgot to add I know they'll eat granulated sugar etc... but I think a lot of that depends on how much available water is necessary to help process it. Ace, I imagine the bees have a sense of 'nutrition' and which flowers are the best to forage. Insects pick up a lot of key's from their host ranges, most things we can't even see or sense but they can see different flowers as better than others and have been programmed to key in on those triggers.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Insects pick up a lot of key's from their host ranges, most things we can't even see or sense but they can see different flowers as better than others and have been programmed to key in on those triggers.
    Except eventually they will harvest it.
    I don't know your personal desires but most people will crave a chocolate bar over a baked potato. I don't think you can measure nutrition by desire alone. Secondly, nutrition has to do with what you are lacking. It is possible that a chocolate bar is more nutritious for you at a certain time than the baked potato. Possible, but not likely with most people.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Insects receive feeding triggers from stimulus inputs. It has nothing to do with desiring something over another. It's a programmed response, how bees determine where to forage is still not well understood. Why and how the foragers listen to the scouts or other foragers is still a mystery. Certain blooms are just more attractive to how bees perceive them with all their sensory inputs. Maybe nutrition was a poor choice of words in my earlier post and as you said, maybe they just see a big flashing hershey bar on certain flowers and can't resist it.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    I don't know about bees having taste buds but they always pick the most potent nectar. I know when we put bees on Buckwheat if anything else is in bloom they'll fly over a mega bloom of buckwheat to get to clover.
    Most of the buckwheat planted in NY produces no nectar, that's why bees fly over it to work clover. Buckwheat that does produce nectar does so during certain hours of the day, shutting off nectar production quickly which may be why colonies are so cranky when working buckwheat.

    Bees work some sources of what they need which we would definitely turn our nose up to.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Maybe nutrition was a poor choice of words in my earlier post and as you said, maybe they just see a big flashing hershey bar on certain flowers and can't resist it.
    There has to be some orchestrating of the foragers. I have put out a tray of honey in my apiary at times and although it attracted a lot of bees it wasn't nearly all of the foragers. I don't even think it was 25% of them so somebody is telling who to go where.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    There has to be some orchestrating of the foragers. I have put out a tray of honey in my apiary at times and although it attracted a lot of bees it wasn't nearly all of the foragers. I don't even think it was 25% of them so somebody is telling who to go where.
    When you say "my apiary", are you referring to the three hives sitting in that area behind your house? Most beekeepers call that their backyard.

    As for your wonderment over the foraging behavior of bees, a little reading would remove some of the mystery.

    I'm going to start calling my bookshelves "my library"...
    Last edited by BeeCurious; 11-16-2012 at 07:45 AM. Reason: punctuation
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    What else would you call a collection of books?

    Brian, I don't think there is anything unusual going on. Setting out a section of comb honey in my Home Apiary where I have 60 hives one might think that there would be so many bees all over it that you wouldn't be able to see the comb, but that didn't happen.

    Maybe it was too cold for much flight to occur.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Maybe it was too cold for much flight to occur.
    That is possible but I did see a jam up at the entrances of the hives because now I have the mouse guards on. It has been trying to reach 60 with these sunny afternoons. The second day I left it out there was a higher attendance so maybe the word got out.


    Sorry I didn't get a chance to say good bye at the Syracuse seminar but I suspect I will see you there tomorrow.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Was there pollen on their legs?

    C U tomorrow, Brian.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Dang, I didn't look for that but there was last week. Our broccoli was in full bloom last week and when it gets warm enough (above 60) they cover it like crazy. We pulled up the tomato vines and I brushed through the broccoli and is was like walking in front of the hive.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Crystallized honey good or bad for bees?

    Mine are almost always overwintered on goldenrod and it's almost always crystallized.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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