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I am a second year hobby beekeeper in central NJ. I have fed sugar water to my 2 bee hives once a week since May. They of course have been free to roam the field nearby. They have capped honey in one super each. Has the sugar water feed ruined their honey?
 

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I don't know if you have ruined the honey but why did you feed sugar water? It is not the type of honey I would sell or give away.
 

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horses2 "Has the sugar water feed ruined their honey?" It's a "Cardinal Sin" to make honey from sugar water. You can eat it, cook with it, give it to some friends ( with explanation) or leave it as part of the brood chamber as winter feed for the bees ( how much do you leave?). Or feed 2:1 syrup in the Fall to build a hive's weight for winter; 80 lb. net in my case. You already have a very good resource available - use it wisely. Finally, how do you know the honey is made from sugar-syrup? (Ps, there are many who say it is the best winter feed in the snowy North - less ash content.)
 

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I'll just join the chorus on this one: you haven't ruined the honey - you just haven't got honey. What you've got is a mixture of honey and sugar syrup - which can't be separated.

It's ok for the bees, and it's ok for you to spread on your toast (if you like that sort of thing) - but you really wouldn't want to be passing that stuff off as 'honey' if you care one iota about your reputation.
'best
LJ
 

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And again - add food dye to your syrup, the next time you feed (green/blue are the best - giving unnatural coloring).
This is so you have some idea where you syrup went.
It is entirely possible your honey is "sugar-free", but without an indicator, you have not a clue.
 

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No one has been defrauded, no small children will starve, you just didn't know but you do now. If you are where they have real winters, put the super on the bottom board and the bees will move the stores up and your super will not be full of brood come spring because the broodnest will be at the top of the stack. Taste your product and see if it tastes like good honey to you. If it does, you and your family and friends can eat it no foul. Just know in the future not to put on a super if your bees need fed.
 

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Thank you all for the replies. I thought the bees needed the sugar syrup to encourage the queen to keep laying. And I thought that if the bees didn't need it they would not take it. I have to chalk this up to one more of many learning experiences. I like the idea of putting color in the sugar syrup but it is too late for that this time. Do you know if there is a way to test the capped liquid other than by tasting it, to determine how much of the content is sugar syrup and how much is honey?
 

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horses2 "Do you know if there is a way to test the capped liquid other than by tasting it, to determine how much of the content is sugar syrup and how much is honey?"

I am not 100% sure but it is a deep, dark secret. Sugar syrup made from white, store bought sugar is all sucrose. Honey is 80% or so glucose and fructose and some dextrose and a whole bunch of other stuff like pollen and various acids including formic and oxalic acid along with some enzymes plus 18% water, plus or minus some. Nectar is mostly sucrose like white sugar. The bees take the sucrose syrup and invert it via enzymes in their stomach, change it to glucose and fructose and extract the water by drying it in the honeycomb. You could say it is "sugar syrup" based honey versus floral "nectar" based honey. Sometimes honey is made from the secretions from aphids too. Also know of a maraschino cherry factory in New Jersey that NYC honey bees robbed and made reddish honey :) It is likely that some honey experts can tell by taste but not this newbee.

Did I get this right? Corrections welcome
 

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Do you know if there is a way to test the capped liquid other than by tasting it, to determine how much of the content is sugar syrup and how much is honey?
Even tasting it isn't guaranteed. The problem is that by simply sampling areas of combs, there's no way of knowing for sure whether: a) some areas of the comb have cells which are 100%-ish honey with other areas having cells which are 100%-ish sugar syrup (now inverted ) ... or b) which areas have cells which contain a mixture of honey and sugar-syrup.

Sure, you may find a comb with some areas of cells which look and taste differently - but that doesn't help with predicting what other areas of that comb or other combs will be like.

There certainly are ways of testing for the adulteration of honey with sugar, but these are laboratory methods. In the UK we're allowed (if memory serves) somewhere around 5% sucrose - this allows for some accidental introduction of sucrose and provides a margin of error for the testing procedure. But if the level is much higher, then ... well, I won't go into that.

Deliberate adulteration of honey with sugar (which I fully accept is not what we're talking about here) is big business. One of our largest supermarket chains was recently compelled to withdraw it's entire stock of 'low-price' honey (ex China) after random testing - when abnormally high levels of sucrose were detected.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you again to Robert and little_john for the additional information on sucrose v. glucose and fructose and honey composition, and lab testing. Great related info and stories. This is a very helpful forum and generous participants.
 

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Horses2,

Also can use the "super contents" for canning or baking. concur with LJ it is not ruined. Also if this is first year for these bees leaving a little for the winter as insurance is a good back up plan. As you do not have location in your profile, advice on how much to winter with is less accurate. Fo me in Mich, the back of the hive gets a "lift test" barely pick it up is good, easily pick it up , needs feed. Over time this "guestimate" gets easier. Do give them a lift and then in the spring you will see what is left and have a reference for next year. A good healthy hive will also use some stores in the spring to ramp up brood rearing, while collecting pollen from willow and red maple. your stores need to get them for me here in Mich to Dandelion season. Here In Mich I like to have 3 boxes, 1 can be a medium, to over winter. Best would be to ask other Keepers in your locale what works there, You may be just perfect, or need more feed or could have fed less.

You likely have a mixture, as to the exact ratio be hard to tell with out expensive testing. So next year once you add the empty super for the honey, we want to discontinue feeding.

no worries, this is not a bad oops, compared to others.

GG
 

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And again - add food dye to your syrup, the next time you feed (green/blue are the best - giving unnatural coloring).
This is so you have some idea where you syrup went.
It is entirely possible your honey is "sugar-free", but without an indicator, you have not a clue.
This may seem obvious, but use dye only if you are feeding within the hive and not open feeding. I live in a very secluded area with 2 hives (apart from mine) and several bee trees in a 2-3 mile radius. I do a fair amount of open feeding, and do not sell honey (occasionally pull and give to family members). One of the hives mentioned is my brother's who could care less if some sugar ends up in his honey stash. The other hive is in a situation where they can't sell honey either. So no harm here if everyone's bees get a boost in March. However, blue dye in other folks' supers would be a different matter. I may pull some honey next year, but I would drop the open feeding before they were gathering/curing it. This year has been about expansion and drawing comb.
 

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This may seem obvious, but use dye only if you are feeding within the hive and not open feeding. I live in a very secluded area with 2 hives (apart from mine) and several bee trees in a 2-3 mile radius. I do a fair amount of open feeding, and do not sell honey (occasionally pull and give to family members). One of the hives mentioned is my brother's who could care less if some sugar ends up in his honey stash. The other hive is in a situation where they can't sell honey either. So no harm here if everyone's bees get a boost in March. However, blue dye in other folks' supers would be a different matter. I may pull some honey next year, but I would drop the open feeding before they were gathering/curing it. This year has been about expansion and drawing comb.
I would argue otherwise - dye if you are open feeding and being open and honest about it to your neighbors.
Let them be the judge.

Everyone should benefit from knowing they take in fake honey (unless they mean to sell fake honey and the blue tint screws their business).
And if one does not care of eating fake honey - than why should they care if that fake honey is blue.
Better yet - don't open feed.
 

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Fair point. I have one colony in the area I need to check and see if it is a hive or a tree. Otherwise it's locked down. I didn't stress how secluded we are.

On blue dye, this may be a practice used by 1000s of beeks but I saw it on YouTube this summer for the first time. I would contend that if you feed, any, during a season or the season prior to a honey harvest, there's a good chance at least a small amount of that feed will end up in your honey (unless they are down to dry combs in the spring). Bees will move truck loads of liquid (relative to their size) in a very short time once their mind is made up. Feeding depends on your goals. I heard someone say "always feed with a purpose" and I've tried to remember this.

If I shift to honey, I'll need to change several things. If you're new, you have to do some research and decide what's best for you. If dye makes sense to you, then dye it up. I haven't really had time to consider it as this thread is the second time I've heard it mentioned. I'm continually learning from beeks, and especially from bees.
 

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..... I would contend that if you feed, any, during a season or the season prior to a honey harvest, there's a good chance at least a small amount of that feed will end up in your honey ......
Agreed.
This is why I run "clean" hives and "tainted" hives.
Which is ONLY possible if you feed in-hive.

This season, for example, I have few designated "clean" hives that get ZERO sugar syrup (these hives will have consumable honey, IF I am to pull any).
These hives are pretty heavy as is; I will give them some honey left from 2019 season AND, if in dire straits - dry sugar in winter.

Other hives (light to bone-dry) are "tainted" - I just feed them green-tinted syrup straight.
Any frames produced from the "tainted" hives are for the bee consumption only.
Once the hive is "tainted", I just designate is as such - tainted (for 2020 season).

If you open-feed - you screw up more then you know about.
Not to mention, some people open feed HFCS.
 

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Agreed.
This is why I run "clean" hives and "tainted" hives.
Which is ONLY possible if you feed in-hive.

This season, for example, I have few designated "clean" hives that get ZERO sugar syrup (these hives will have consumable honey, IF I am to pull any).
These hives are pretty heavy as is; I will give them some honey left from 2019 season AND, if in dire straits - dry sugar in winter.

Other hives (light to bone-dry) are "tainted" - I just feed them green-tinted syrup straight.
Any frames produced from the "tainted" hives are for the bee consumption only.
Once the hive is "tainted", I just designate is as such - tainted (for 2020 season).

If you open-feed - you screw up more then you know about.
Not to mention, some people open feed HFCS.
nothing wrong with feeding you bees sugar water is better than han having they starve. They bees will need it during the winter , THey will take it all and eat it in the spring and be ahead in the spring to bring in real honey. Bees wont take surgar water unless they need itl your fine not end of the world
 

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As others have said, but perhaps less explicitly, it depends what you do with that honey.

If you plan to sell it then you have a problem but as a second year hobbiest I don't think that is an issue.
If you plan to eat it then your problem is that you may have brought the quality and taste down to the equivalent to the cheap stuff you can buy at the grocery, but it is also possible your bees brought in enough nectar and/or consumed enough of the sugar water that your taste is still good enough for you. My guess is that you will still have pretty good tasting honey if you had any decent flow.

If you feed them more than they consume they will store the excess. When there's a dearth they will consume all the sugar water. When a flow happens they have lots of nectar AND lots of sugar water coming in so they store a bunch. Often, with a good flow that will far exceed the amount of sugar water, and so you may well have a good amount of nectar which means it may be more honey than sugar water even though you have been feeding them sugar water all summer.

I would suggest
1) make sure they have enough food stored to make it through the winter.
2) consider keeping a few frames stored in your freezer to provide food for any hives that need it in the spring
3) harvest the rest and see how it tastes. Probably good enough for yourself and friends that haven't been spoiled by lots of good honey yet. Just be honest that it is potentially adulterated and don't sell it.
4) Feed less and with more purpose in the future. Meaning feed when they need supplemental feed or you are trying to stimulate brood production but not all summer unless there is a reason to do so, and that would mean at a level that they don't build up an extra full super worth.
 

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nothing wrong with feeding you bees sugar water is better than han having they starve. .......
This is obvious and no one is even arguing.
I feed too - those who need it - in-hive.
I, however, don't want my bees be bringing someone else's sugar water (I want my human-consumable honey to be 100% best possible natural honey).
That simple.
 
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