What is the pH of naturally collected nectar?
What is the pH of naturally collected nectar?
Exactly! And What is the pH of cured and stored sugar in the hive? Blindly acidifying the syrup might not be the right thing to do at all. It might, but without some measurement you just don't know.
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, mimicing 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 coevolved with honey bees, have large components of indigestible (by bees) seven and greater carbon sugars -- Eucalyptus and Avocado in my region are examples.
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. Calcium disolved in water enormously affects its buffering of acid.
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 1985 paper fed honeybees various levels of Ascorbic (Vitamin C) and found that Vit C increases brood rearing (but that even 0 level controls had the same titer - bees (or their symbionts) can manufacture the Vitamin C). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...20104/abstract
The finding that Vit C enhances honeybee health and brood is important to the issue of overfeeding sugar syrup without the addition of ascorbic. The expected role of gut symbionts in the natural synthesis by bees reflects the issue of overdosing with fumagilin (a broad bacterial sterilant).
Herbert, E. W., Vanderslice, J. T. and Higgs, D. J. (1985), Vitamin C enhancement of brood rearing by caged honeybees fed a chemically defined diet. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol., 2: 29–37. doi: 10.1002/arch.940020104
"High Fructose Corn syrup" is unpopular with natural keepers but is similar in composition broadly with nectar. It is Corn Starch largely converted to fructose + glucose in proportions nearly exactly that of honey. The harmful effect of HFCS might be due to the residual indigestible (to bees) starch after the conversion process, or alternatively, the converted sugar is perfectly edible, but is lacking in Vit C and other natural contaminants (per the 1985 paper cited).
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.
WOW ! and I thought that I knew chemistery.
JWChesnut - Thanks. That is extremely informative and useful. So it sounds like there is a fair margin of error if one uses ascorbic or tartaric acid for this purpose, but can you give some more specific guidelines for the non-chemist? Do you need to measure water hardness, just solution ph, or is either really required? What is the simplest way to measure those things? How long does it take for the desired reaction to happen?
A recipe for ph adjusted, inverted sugar syrup (both 1-1 and 2-1 solutions) is what I for one really need. This sounds like a very simple thing that could produce significant results. Thanks.
I think you'll have to get some pH strips that go low enough for honey in order to measure your syrup. The acidity of your water obviously will affect things but there are many other factors such as lime which acts as a buffer (making it not so much more acidic or alkaline as more neutral). So how much will vary. I use seven grams of Ascorbic acid to five gallons of 5:3 syrup (sugarater) and it comes out about 4.5. Your results will vary.
You can get pH test strips at most drug stores -- certain medical conditions need to check pH of urine. You can also get these at aquarium pet stores (checking pH of fish tanks). You can get them at Pool and hot tub supply stores -- as pH range is important to balancing the pool water.
I've used the following product -- I have a Hach Ion meter (for my profession) and the strips have proved to be accurately calibrated. In fact, I use them for QA on the Hach -- it has a liquid gel sensor that goes wonky and calibration must be checked regularly.
Does acidifying the sugar syrup help eliminate nosema?
Sounds like your syrup is quite concentrated being 5:3?
>Does acidifying the sugar syrup help eliminate nosema?
Nosema definitely reproduces better at the neutral pH of sugar syrup and not as well at a pH of 4.5. The microbes in the gut of the bee definitely help protect it from Nosema.
>Sounds like your syrup is quite concentrated being 5:3?
Yes. That's the concentration I use all year around. It keeps better than 1:1 and dissolves easier than 2:1.