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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I bought some bulk sugar from a guy at the local beekeeper association. It came in 5 gallon bucket that he had downloaded from a drum that he bought.

Well the sugar seemed more like powdered sugar than granulated. There were little black things in the sugar, and when I mixed up a batch of simple syrup, it turned black.

When I mixed up syrup from store bought granulated syrup, it mixed up clear.

What did I just buy? The black plague? I'm not feeling great about serving it up to my bees.

Any help would be appreciated. I feel like I just got taken for a ride.
 

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you probably bought waste sugar, or basically floor sweepings from a sugar processing plant. the black is usually small particles of dirt and debris, along with paper fibers if the sweepings came from under a bagging machine. That being said, waste sugar is all i use. I mix it up in 5 gallon pails, and then pour thru a 400 micron screen, to get the big stuff out. then it is poured into my syrup tank and taken to the bees. The bees wont take up the dirt and debris, and it is left in the feeders when the syrup is gone. I use frame feeders, not boardmans, so a quick rinse out when im done feeding and that black stuff is gone. I believe that if using boardman feeders, some of the holes may get plugged by the debris.
i buy waste granulated sugar, not powdered sugar. I did work with beekeeper one time that had a few drums of waste powdered sugar, and the cornstarch made it terrible to work with, and it was hard a a rock. we literally used a hammer and a long screwdriver to break the stuff apart in the drums.
 

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Of course I don't *know* what you have.

But there IS a black sugar - more here: http://kitchen.j321.com/black-sugar-asian-japan-taiwan-ingredient

If that is what you have, note that molasses is one of the ingredients. Molasses has solids in it that bees cannot digest, and must poop out. That may be OK in flying weather, but in winter when bees can't fly to poop, dysentery is a possible result. All 'colored' sugars have this problem, including "organic" sugars that are not white/clear.

Without a very good explanation of exactly what is in that "sugar" from the seller, I would not feed it to my bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
NY - thanks. Is your waste sugar off white but mix up to a black sugar syrup? That's what mine is/does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Rader - thanks. I read about black sugar, but what I have is an off white color. I was concerned about that because I'd heard about problems with molasses too.

Thanks for the info.
 

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yes, my sugar is not pure white like it is in a bag of sugar, it is just off that color, due to the very small dark particles in the sugar. once mixed with water though, it becomes quite dark, due to the small particles now suspended throughout the sugar syrup. Some floats to the top, and some sinks. Some stays suspended. I usually skim off the floating stuff, and pour through my 400 micron mesh. once I put the syrup into my syrup tank, I may let it settle for a few days, and it does clear up some. The bees dont take up that debris though, so it is left in the feeders once the syrup is gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks - it sounds like that's what I've got.

Just two more questions - is your sugar finer like powdered sugar rather than granulated?

Also, where can i get the mesh screen locally, or do i have to order it?
 

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the sugar i get is granulated sugar, though because it does have floor sweepings in it, it has some sugar dust, or ground up sugar in it.
I use a 400 micron honey filter, like folks get with a bottling bucket. it fits right onto a 5 gallon pail. Most bee supply places offer them for sale.
 

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Was it instantly black? Or did it take a day or two to turn black? It could be black mold. If it is mold, then making the syrup stronger will help. Boiling the water first will help. Adding ascorbic acid to get the pH down to about 4.5 will help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Michael - I don't think it was mold - it turned black the moment I added the water, but thanks for the comment.

BTW - I have read just about everything on your website - I really appreciate all the hard work you have put into publishing so much of your knowledge for newbees like me. I have learned a ton from you.
 

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Can you ask the guy you got it from?

But if not, well me anyway, going into winter I would not feed syrup that was black due to an unknown contaminant. A 5 gallon bucket of nice new white sugar is not unduly expensive.
 

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"including "organic" sugars that are not white/clear."

I was about to post a question on this exact topic before i looked at this thread! I recently acquired for free a bunch of organic sugar from a friend of mine. It isn't brown or unrefined or turbinado, just slightly off white and when i mixed it up it is brownish rather than clear. Is this harmful?

This is a link to the exact product:
http://www.foodservicedirect.com/product.cfm/p/2961800/Organic-Kosher-Sugar.htm

Thanks for all your help.

Jantsen
 

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Its difficult to find ingredient information for UNFI Organic Sugar, so I don't know how it would perform as bee feed.

I found a vague Amazon reference that the UNFI product was kosher organic sugar, and another reference that it was 'cane sugar'. But the key is the refining process that it goes through, and none of that is very descriptive. If there is an Ingredient section on the label that says "granulated sugar", then I would have no qualms feeding it, otherwise .... hard to say.

You may find this page of interest: http://www.honeybeesuite.com/is-organic-sugar-better-for-bees/
 

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I bought three barrels of scrap sugar a while ago that did the same thing. In the barrel it looked almost like some portions where oil/rubber stained? Even the clean sugar scooped from around darker sugar mixed up black. It was like a fine silca? power that stayed in suspension and didn't settle out even when mix sat for a couple days. I returned it for exchange, never fed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well I spoke to the guy that sold me the sugar- he says that it's food grade but not table grade. I used the words waste sugar and he said "uh-huh". He said that he's been using it as is for years without filtering without issues.

When I get too work I'm going to post a picture that I took of a jar of the syrup next to a jar from the previous batch.

After letting the jar sit overnight, the sediment did settle to the bottom, and the remaining syrup is only slightly darker than the batch made from store bought sugar.

I ran it through a permanent coffee filter, which did nothing.

I realize that NY uses a 400 micron mesh, which I plan to buy, but I don't have a local honey supply house, and I'd like to filter this sediment out somehow because it's going to fall to the bottom of my entrance feeders.

So it appears that it is sugar, but after using this up ( assuming the bees accept/tolerate it) I probably won't be buying it again.

I'm probably going to put it in a small feeder for only one hive and see if the bees use it, I'd just like to figure out a short term filtering solution.
 

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You could mix up a batch, let it sit overnight for the sediment to settle, then dip out syrup from the top, stirring up as little sediment as possible.
 
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