A few years ago, there was a thread here about the Mountaincamp method. I said I didn't like the method, and had a long winded discussion with MC and others. The consensus was that if it didn't do any harm then so what. I left it be.
I still don't like it. When since the last ice age...or before...have bees placed granulated sugar on top of their combs? Never of course. They place their stores in the combs...sealed away nice and convenient to the winter cluster. That winter cluster is quiet, not actively processing sucrose. I believe that active clusters consume more stores and have greater amounts of indigestables in their gut...meaning greater need for cleansing flights.
But many beekeepers are in the south, and never worry if the bees will even need a cleansing flight in the winter. Fair enough.
I still don't like it. It seems to me that a colony of bees should be prepared before the end of the season. This means feeding what the bees need...if they need...early enough so it is stored in the combs, ripened, and capped. The original poster fed syrup until Thanksgiving. Moisture problems, eh? Of course. So, the sugar was the answer to the moisture problem. Also, some insurance against the colony running out of feed.
Ok, I understand that. I still don't like it. But, since all say that it doesn't hurt the bees, what's the big deal?
I really couldn't answer that one, so I dropped it. Don't get me wrong, I would sugar my bees in an emergency, too.Yet it still distresses me that so many new beekeepers are so quick to take up a seemingly easy...all ya gotta do is...kind of management. Paying no mind to good basic beekeeping. I never could find anything negative about sugaring your bees...and believe me I looked...until now.
Tony Jadczak and his son Alex did a survey on Nosema. The performed spore counts on 4 apiaries, 2 in New York, and 2 in Maine. The study was in 2008 in the spring. I think the results speak for themselves. In all cases, the spore count went up significantly with sugar on the bees. Even more telling, the spore counts went up more in the sugared hives than the controls.
All colonies were positive for Nosema.
Maine hives averaged 3,790,909 spores/bee
New York hives ave. 980,250 spores/bee
Range: 50,000-28,350,000 spores/bee
NY trial: 2/14-3/13/08
ME trial: 3/6-4/8/08
The bees were divided into 4 groups in each apiary. These 4 groups were:
1 Control: No action taken
2 Sugar Boards: Feeder boards containing slightly moistened granulated sugar so it would stick in the board. No heating like a candy board, or treatment added. Sugar was the consistency of caked granulated sugar ala the MC method.
3 Dust: Comprised of fumigillin and powdered sugar
4 FCandy: Sugar Board with fumigillin added
At the end of the trial, the bees were sampled again for nosema spores.
Control: -83K spores
Candy: +1.1 million spores
Dust: -1.1 million spores
FCandy: -600K spores
Control: +5.4 million spores
Candy: +12.8 million spores
Dust: -3.9 million spores
FCandy: -5.6 million spores
Control: +2.6 million spores
Candy: +6.7 million spores
Dust: -2.45 million spores
FCandy: -2.53 million spores
Tony said the possible difference between spore counts in ME and NY...note the control in NY went down..is probably due to NY being a better production area than ME. Spore counts seemingly go down when nutrition is improved.