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  1. #21
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Hi, Lauri

    Do you think a little too much vinegar would be a problem? I cut your recipe down by a 10th to try it out and my measurements aren't precise. I used about 2.5lbs of sugar and probably 4 oz of apple cider vinegar. If the bottle says in the ingredients that it's apple cider, then that should be the real deal right? My walmart has unfiltered Heinz apple cider vinegar in 32 oz jars, they also have great value apple cider vinegar and the ingredients list says apple cider...

    Rod

  2. #22
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by rweakley View Post
    Hi, Lauri

    Do you think a little too much vinegar would be a problem?

    Rod
    Rod, I started off with 2 cups vinegar and 2 cups water in 25 # sugar. But went to all vinegar (1 quart) two years ago an liked it.
    Have you ever tasted bread and butter pickles? That is a strong 50/50 mix of sugar and vinegar. Zippy with lots of flavor. The balance of high sugar and acid content are what give most fruit and veggies their flavor, like tomatoes. I assume the preferred nectar sources are also tasty.


    Vinegar itself is really not very strong..just 5% acidity. In plain syrup, I only use a small splash..about 1/4 cup in 5 gallons. But in the sugar blocks, after the vinegar does it's job of inverting the sugar, only the slight acidity, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, etc are left in the brick after the moisture has evaporated away. The brick is consumed so slowly, the high vinegar content it probably a moot point. but I don't feed the brick in place of honey, I offer it in addition to plenty of natural stores. Which they have so much of, I am surprised they even glance at the brick. But they love it for some reason. I'm not to worried about why. The more stores they save for brood rearing the next spring the better. And like I said in the OP, maybe it is just a placebo effect for the bees too. They feel there is syrup available, even though they don't need it. So they are content. Keep up moral and enthusiasm over the winter months.
    And you know the importance of hive enthusiasm in early spring. Might make the difference between just existing or grabbing a gear.

    You know how worthless a demoralized hive can be too. Keeping up the enthusiasm and momentum in the hive may be as importaint as many other things, and possibly overlooked with overwintering methods..
    Some of these are just my theories, based on observations.

    I have only good results with the recipe I posted . But if you are not comfortable with this recipe..just change it to suit your ideas.
    Last edited by Lauri; 11-12-2013 at 04:58 PM.

  3. #23
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    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post

    But in the sugar blocks, after the vinegar does it's job of inverting the sugar, only the slight acidity, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, etc are left in the brick after the moisture has evapoera away.
    What makes you think that there's any inversion of the granulated sugar?
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  4. #24
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Maybe you missed this in the posts above:

    A primary reason for acidifying syrup is to "invert" the sugar. Cane sugar is pure sucrose. Sucrose is a 12 carbon sugar made up of two loosely joined six carbon sub-molecules (fructose and glucose). The acid disassociates the sucrose into the component parts, mimicking the nectar. This is termed by kitchen chemists "invert" sugar, and was used for baking. Most nectars (not all) are slightly fructose rich. The pH of nectar varies widely too (and many nectars, not co evolved with honey bees, have large components of indigestible (by bees) seven and greater carbon sugars. Practically, the sucrose sugar syrup can be inverted with vinegar or any other edible acid, and very little hydrogen ion donors are needed on the order of tablespoon per gallon. Ascorbic acid is made up of glucose (6 C sugar ring) with 2 carbon "tail" and various OH groups tagged to balance the Carbon charge. Many animals and their gut flora can synthesize this from any 6 carbon sugar source. A good reason to use at least some ascorbic acid (or tartaric) in the place of some of the simpler acids is ascorbic is a ring structure, while acetic (vinegar) is a simple unbranched chain. The ring is stable and "recycles" Hydrogen OH groups from solution. This means it is continually recovering donor potential and a little bit can invert an enormous solution much like a catalyst in reaction.

    I'm not a real chemist. I just play one on Beesource

  5. #25
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Without substantial heat I don't believe that any inversion occurs.

    When I add 3.5 grams of ascorbic acid to 25 lbs of sugar in syrup I don't use excessive heat, and I doubt if there's much inversion going on. I simply have more acidic syrup.

    The fact that your blocks are still acid indicates that there isn't much or any conversion...
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  6. #26
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    My primary reason for adding acid is to have a syrup that is more gentle on the bees...
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  7. #27
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Note that Lauri's quote came from JWChestnut, who manages to give the impression that he knows what he is talking about.

    I don't claim any personal expertise on whether heat is required to invert sugar, but this B+S Technical Document says that sugar in plain water - over a period of weeks - will invert anyway. Addition of ascorbic acid or heat will result in inversion happening "quite quickly".

    The resulting 1:1 mixture of glucose and fructose is called invert sugar and the chemical reaction is called inversion. In water the reaction is very slow (takes weeks). At higher temperatures and in the presence of acid(s) the reaction speeds up considerably. Thus when cola drinks are made from sucrose, the dissolved sugar inverts quite quickly because the recipe contains phosphoric acid. Similarly, drinks containing citric acid or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) will also invert quite quickly.

    http://www.bellinghamandstanley.com/..._pdfs/P002.pdf
    (Digital refractometer and polarimeter manufacturers Bellingham + Stanley offer a wide range of refractometers and polarimeters.) http://www.bellinghamandstanley.com/
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    Without substantial heat I don't believe that any inversion occurs.
    ion...
    It could be, Bee, I don't know for sure. There is also Citric acid in the recipe which helps with inversion. I Assume the blocks are somewhat acidic. No matter, the bees didn't get the memo. All they know is they like it. They love it. They want some more of it.

    I go partly by the fact I don't have any nosema or dysentery problems and never treat with Fumagillin. They consume the bricks well, so I feel the recipe is very palatable.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    The way I look at it, is kind of like tuning your compound bow. You can shoot your arrow through a piece of paper at 5 yards to see if you get a bullet hole or a tear. A bullet hole means you bow is tuned well..but you will generally Still have to move your rest a touch to get it to group perfectly downrange, especially over 50 yards. If my bow groups well , but I now don't get a perfect bullet hole back at the paper, should I change it?
    My answer would be NO.

    So my recipe has not been analized by a lab, and I'm not sure of the rate of inversion-if any- has occcured. But the results are what I am concentrating on.

  10. #30
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    Jul 2012
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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Lauri, thankyou for that very interesting information. It came along just as I had read Randy Oliver's recently posted article on winter feeding of weak hives (with syrup, but that is in California...too cold here on the Pacific Northwest coast to do that, we'd use fondant or your sugar bricks). I am simplifying and paraphrasing, but he found even weak hives you would normally combine with bigger ones in fall, if fed through the winter, very often survived to become strong hives in the next season:
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/winter-colony-losses/

    And both your info and Randy's work nicely with a local beekeeping story, where a beekeeper combined a weak hive with a strong one and lost both queens. We talked about that and decided it is best to leave the strong hive alone (don't fix what ain't broke), and give the small one some resources and a shot at survival. If it goes down, all you have lost is a weak colony...but if it survives you have a second strong colony next season.

    Sounds like putting on a little extra feed in the hive can't hurt and may help?

  11. #31
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    Nov 2012
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    Springfield, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    Maybe you missed this in the posts above:

    A primary reason for acidifying syrup is to "invert" the sugar. Cane sugar is pure sucrose. Sucrose is a 12 carbon sugar made up of two loosely joined six carbon sub-molecules (fructose and glucose). The acid disassociates the sucrose into the component parts, mimicking the nectar. This is termed by kitchen chemists "invert" sugar, and was used for baking. Most nectars (not all) are slightly fructose rich. The pH of nectar varies widely too (and many nectars, not co evolved with honey bees, have large components of indigestible (by bees) seven and greater carbon sugars. Practically, the sucrose sugar syrup can be inverted with vinegar or any other edible acid, and very little hydrogen ion donors are needed on the order of tablespoon per gallon. Ascorbic acid is made up of glucose (6 C sugar ring) with 2 carbon "tail" and various OH groups tagged to balance the Carbon charge. Many animals and their gut flora can synthesize this from any 6 carbon sugar source. A good reason to use at least some ascorbic acid (or tartaric) in the place of some of the simpler acids is ascorbic is a ring structure, while acetic (vinegar) is a simple unbranched chain. The ring is stable and "recycles" Hydrogen OH groups from solution. This means it is continually recovering donor potential and a little bit can invert an enormous solution much like a catalyst in reaction.

    I'm not a real chemist. I just play one on Beesource
    That is an excellent description, and I will add that either vinegar (acetic acid) or citric acid should work equally well, despite their different arrangements of atoms (ring or not), as long as there is moisture available. No moisture = little inversion.

    The acids are catalysts in the inversion process, not "much like" catalysts; they speed up the inversion and do not get used up. This means that the acidity will not go away in a sugar block.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Just to UPDATE this thread. Folks, you need to make these sugar blocks BEFORE you need them. They can take a few days up to a few weeks to dry and harden, depending on how you dry them. Dehydrator, oven or open air. They must be cured and available when you have the window of opportunity of a nice warm day to open your hives and install them. If you make them thicker, they will take longer to dry. But the recipe is right. No need to cook it.

  13. #33
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    What would be the advantages of the blocks versus the standard Mountain Camp approach? I have used the MC approach for many years with (in my opinion) much success - similar to what Lauri reports. I realize that some claim dysentery may result, but like Lauri, I've never seen it. We also have relatively mild winters where bees can fly periodically throughout the winter, which may explain the different observations. I do not add electrolytes or AC vinegar, but have added small amounts of Bee Pro at times mixed into the granulated sugar. Can't say I've seen noticeable differences when using Bee Pro, but our area has plenty of natural pollen coming in very early in the new year.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #34
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    What might also work is a mixture of brick and dry methods. Dry suger dumped in hive, lightly sprayed with the vinegar fortified liquid mixture as shown in the recipe. Since it isn't mixed it wouldn't have the same effect of inversion, but would slightly acidify and fortify the sugar. I'd dump in about 1" at a time and lightly spray, then repeat until the whole 5 # is on the hive. Just be very careful about adding moisture in the hive this time of year. I'd also be sure to give them an upper entrance for moisture evaporation.

    I have not done it this way, but it could be an option for those that don't want to make bricks.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I've fed quite a few hives with dry sugar on newspaper. It's not ideal by any stretch, but it works in a pinch. I try to make sugar blocks Lauri's recipe or just sugar/water heated to 250 on a candy thermometer and poured into a brownie pan.

    The downside of the mountain camp, is that the bees will lightly haul the sugar out. If it hasn't had a chance to solidify. I'm going to try a slighly damp to clumping state sugar this year in a few hives.. It's easy to get the moisture content correct, than spray with a bottle.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Jefferson Co, TX
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Lauri - Stop what you are doing, I was looking at the pictures and realized that you are feeding bees horse, sheep, ruminant, chicken, and turkey vitamins. No wonder those bees are doing good, they think they are horses.

    You might confuse those bees if you continue.

    One the serious side, will that type vitamins dissolve well in water. Like it could be added to syrup as a supplement? I could see bees on the coast where we now have had frost and will have temps in the high 70s to low 80s next week, then back into the 40s. This can yoyo all winter long and if you have no nectar until January, I would imagine they will smoke through all the honey they have stored.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    I made up some tonight and I just dumped the vitamins into the vinegar and they desolved like alkaselzer. I sure hope Laurie knows what she is talking about because I'm going all in with all my hives.

    I bought some Heinz unfiltered ACV and wow there is no comparison between that and some other ACV that I had on past. yum. twice the price but at 3.68 a quart still not too bad.
    Last edited by rweakley; 11-14-2013 at 08:30 PM. Reason: added

  18. #38
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    Mar 2013
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    Clinton County, IN, USA
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    here is the manufactuers information for the Vitamins & Electrolytes
    it is water soluble

    http://valleyvet.naccvp.com/index.ph...sds&id=1058124

    and here is where to order it

    http://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.h...s=electrolytes

  19. #39
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    Just to UPDATE this thread. Folks, you need to make these sugar blocks BEFORE you need them. They can take a few days up to a few weeks to dry and harden, depending on how you dry them. Dehydrator, oven or open air. They must be cured and available when you have the window of opportunity of a nice warm day to open your hives and install them. If you make them thicker, they will take longer to dry. But the recipe is right. No need to cook it.
    I put the sugar on the hive wet. I also have no transportation issues. I made up a 5 gallon bucket of it and then just spooned it into the feeder board. One of my nucs went through 3 lbs of it in two weeks. they got another 3 lbs last weekend. All other nucs have a total of 5 lbs each and I will keep an eye on how that lasts. It does dry up in the hive.
    Last edited by Daniel Y; 11-15-2013 at 06:12 AM.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: My recipe/method for sugar blocks

    Vitamins & Electrolytes plus

    The plus is Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Dried Streptococcus Facium which are LAB lactic acid bacteria. There are several studies out there that show bees fed probitics live longer, have more brood, heavier bees and better immunity against EFB, AFB chaulk brood.

    Also read studies that show that just vitamins added to syrup increase brood and longevity.

    I find Vitamins & Electrolytes plus at my local feed store for a few dollars.

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