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Hi guys, newbee here. I had a question about sugar water: I just got my first two nucs last weekend, and was advised to provide them with some sugar water (I'm using a boardman feeder). They don't appear to be eating it (if so, just a small amount), but they've been up for 5 days. I know sugar water can ferment, but how quickly? Will I see it? Smell it? Will the bees still eat it if it's bad? I don't want to kill them by leaving it up, but don't want to deprive them of it if they need it!

A little background, my hives are shaded overhead by trees. We've had 70-80 degree days but it stays nice where they are. I pulled one of the feeders out and noticed a few bees going in and coming out and sitting around. Does that mean they're using it?

Thanks!!
 

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From Randy Oliver's "Scientific Beekeeping": >

"I mentioned last article that light syrup ferments quickly in warm weather, and that bleach could be added to prevent this."

"I fed chlorinated 1:1 sucrose syrup to a few hundred colonies for several weeks this summer, with great results. The bees appeared to build up fine, and my feeder jars did not get the black growth on the insides, and rarely fermented. Fresh chlorinated syrup also disinfects jars that aren’t too dirty. However, it wasn’t as effective in gallon insert feeders. So adding a cup of bleach per drum (or 1 teaspoon per gallon) appears to work fine (although I’d sure like to see one of the bee labs test it for long-term effects)."

That's from part 4, more in part 3. > http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fat-bees%e2%80%94part-4-timing-and-tummy-aches/

Where do you have the boardman placed; outside of the hive? They may not be taking it because it gets too cool at night or there is plenty of natural nectar around in NC. now. I wouldn't think you have to feed a nuc for very long. Maybe one more good feeding when they are transferred to the ten frame box. I have seen spots of black mold looking stuff on the inside of the feeders after about 8 to 10 days. So far I haven't had to feed my bees very long so that this mold forms. They usually take it so fast I can just replenish a couple of times and then stop. I fed my package about six quarts in 10 days, took the feeders off and won't return them until I put the second deep of foundation on for them to draw out. All my packages of bees have come during the time when there is some nectar from flowers. I have not had to feed them for a long time like a package in early April.

In spring and summer when the bees can get out to defecate, fermented syrup may not be as harmful as when they are cooped up during the winter. Bees are seen around rotting fruit sometimes in the fall.

Do a search on Beesource for bleach and syrup like here; there are many others.

"I can only give you my rule of thumb. In hot weather like I have in Virginia right now, I pour it out if it is in there over a week. It may remain viable much longer, as I have smelled/tasted it after a week and it seems just fine."
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?243220-how-long-is-too-long&highlight=bleach+syrup
 

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I use a tiny bit of vinegar to reduce pH, making the syrup a bit more attractive and increasing its longevity. It's perfectly normal for them to ignore syrup when there's a good flow on. Usually the first thing you'll notice about "bad" syrup is black stringy floaties in it. No huge harm; just discard it, clean and sanitize the jar and refill. It WON'T kill bees.
 
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