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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always been confused by that. You can't sell sugar syrup, and also wouldn't want to eat it, but if you feed your bees, like in the spring and then in the summer dearth, how do you keep straight if you might have sugar syrup or not?

My overwintered hive I'm not feeding, but I did have sugar cakes in there through the winter. Might they have stored that away, in the beginning of spring? If I don't feed them thru the summer now, will they starve?

My new package that will be coming I don't think I'm going to give syrup to. I have plenty of honey frames from a deadout overwinter, and I'm thinking I'll just give them those instead of feeding them syrup, so they can have the healthy stuff. I kind of hate to waste good honey, but it seems a healthier alternative for them than syrup, plus I'll know there's no sugar in my new honey, just pure honey.

But anyway, how to do you time syrup feeding so it doesn't interrupt with your honey supply, for new and existing hives? I'm confused about feeding.
 

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You don't feed while the flow is on. By the time you have an extended dearth and have to feed, the honey will be capped. They won't uncapp it to add syrup.

You could mark your pure honey frames that are fully capped with a thumb tack or marker on the top of the frame before you feed, then harvest later if desired. Weeks or months from now, You'll know what is pure and what may be feed.
Most of the syrup will be going to the bone dry brood nest area first, the only open cells in the hive at that point. But it depends on your circumstances.

They can live on honey, but light 1:1 syrup is a stimulating feed. You'll get more brood rearing on 1:1 than you will from capped honey frames. A little of both is what I use.
Don't forget a protein patty if you want well fed brood and good growth.

I don't harvest my honey yet .. I let the bees keep it so I can expand my hive numbers and make nucs. On a large commercial scale, marking the frames wouldn't be efficient. But for the person with a hive or two, I don't see why marking the frames wouldn't work just fine.
 

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>how do you keep straight if you might have sugar syrup or not?

Most people just pretend they don't know... don't ask, don't tell.
Really? MOST beekeepers are intentionally dishonest by practicing plausible deniability? You may have your fellow beekeepers confused with the government.

If you ever feed a drop of syrup then you don't KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of it doesn't end up in your honey, but if you take reasonable care and stop feeding before supering then your honey will be fine.

May as well worry about the fact that every breath you take contains air that was breathed by Hitler and Genghis Khan.
 

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Really? MOST beekeepers are intentionally dishonest by practicing plausible deniability?
Hmmm. I read "most" to mean most of the experienced beekeepers who feed sugar with supers on when they know they shouldn't because they're going to sell the resulting product, rather than most backyard beekeepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I use all mediums, so to me "honey supers" aren't much different from any other supers because they just kind of all wander here and there and store honey wherever they want. Then they might move it here and there, so really, how could you ever know, if you're feeding syrup. Someone I was talking to mentioned a feeding schedule that commercial beekeepers use: during the spring flow, the bees store honey. During the dearth you feed and they basically eat it. Then in the fall flow you don't feed, and after that collect honey, or something like that, I'm not sure how that schedule works.

To be on the safe side, I'd just as soon not feed syrup to overwintered hives at all. Then in the winter, put fondant or a sugar patty in the hives just to be sure. I guess I would probably have less honey to take that way too, but it would be worth the peace of mind to know it's real honey.

I think there are new labeling laws - are they only here, or are they federal? - that if your honey contains sugar syrup, you have to put that on the label.

Edit: I did appreciate that info, Lauri. It does make sense that they won't be capping honey during a dearth because they won't have honey to cap. Altho I've seen uncapped honey in there a lot, I wonder if it just sits there for extended periods sometimes.
 

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I don't have that problem since I run deep brood chambers, but if I did all mediums I'd just make sure that the comb was empty that went on for honey collection.
 

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One method is to use only a single deep brood chamber. It is alot easier for them to hide feed in a double or triple deep setup than in a single deep. If you keep them lean untill the flow starts, most anything in the brood chamber will be turned into bees and not moved. We also have our honey tested for ISCIRA.

Crazy Roland
 

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Roland;1105023 We also have our honey tested for ISCIRA. Crazy Roland[/QUOTE said:
ok Crazy Roland, you got me, I googled ISCIRA and all I came up with is a war game?
World of Warcraft · Community · Iscira @ Outland · Iscira. Starcaller
 

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I think there are new labeling laws - are they only here, or are they federal? - that if your honey contains sugar syrup, you have to put that on the label.
You misunderstand the regulation. If you sell a honey/syrup blend you have to state that on your label. Not unlike before. Truth in labeling. You can not sell adulterated honey and call it HONEY. And it is a Federal Regulation.

The answer to your question as posed in the Thread title is : Timing. Timing and supering for honey. And then harvesting.

Stop feeding and remove feeders when your bees don't need feeding anymore and well before the nectar flow starts. Don't super for honey when feeders are in place. Don't harvest from the brood boxes.

How purely free from any kind of syrup you may have fed does your honey need to be? 100%? Then don't feed in the Spring. I have been told that bees move stores around the hive, so, any stored syrup/honey, syrup processed by the bees, will run the risk of being blended w/ honey produced by the bees from nectar that they brought into the hive all on their own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If they randomly tested honey, how much of the supply do you think would be at least a small part syrup? Maybe if it's under a certain percent, it should be slide-able, seems so difficult to avoid altogether.

One method is to use only a single deep brood chamber. It is alot easier for them to hide feed in a double or triple deep setup than in a single deep. If you keep them lean untill the flow starts, most anything in the brood chamber will be turned into bees and not moved.
Is that why commercial bee lots seem to have such short hives? My hives get several mediums high, and I think I might be doing it inefficiently. So you use a deep brood chamber and leave it alone, and then just swap a honey super or two on and off the top?
 

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Generalizations about commercial beekeepers are just like generalizations about hobby beekeepers. The word "some" or maybe in some cases "most" should come before commercial beekeepers, unless you are siting a specific commercial beekeeper.

Here in NY, a cpl years ago, our State Dept of Ag&Mkts collected samples of honey from grocery store shelves across the State and found no adulteration. Whereas, deknow, a frequent poster here on beesource, has found honey he purchased from a local beekeeper who bought that honey from another beekeeper to be adulterated. That's how I remember him stating the situation. There have been cases where a Honey Packer has intentionally blended honey and HFCS together and sold it as honey. They didn't get away w/ it.

So, it does happen, infrequently.
 

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ok Crazy Roland, you got me, I googled ISCIRA and all I came up with is a war game?
If you include 'honey' as part of the search phrase then the results are more relevant. :) Try searching for "ISCIRA honey". The acronym translates as "Internal Standard Isotope Ratio Analysis (ISCIRA)".


One of the resulting links ....
Stable carbon isotope ratio analysis of honey: validation of internal standard procedure for worldwide application

Stable carbon isotope ratio analysis (SCIRA) of honey for undeclared presence of cane or corn sugars has been available for 20 years. Its use with domestic and imported honeys is reviewed. .... .... .... ...


http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US1997091120
 

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>Really? MOST beekeepers are intentionally dishonest by practicing plausible deniability? You may have your fellow beekeepers confused with the government.

I love when people put words in my mouth. I'm saying people want to believe in the "no peeing section of the pool" or the "no smoke section" of an airplane (anyone remember that?) If you feed syrup some of it ends up in your honey. No one likes to admit it. They like to pretend it doesn't happen. The more you feed, the more of it ends up in your honey. The queen excluder does not magically keep it all below. Bees move stores all the time. People raising comb honey count on it. Just because you stop feeding when you put on the supers does not keep bees from moving the syrup above to clear space for the queen to lay below. Denial is not just a river in Egypt...

> If you ever feed a drop of syrup then you don't KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of it doesn't end up in your honey, but if you take reasonable care and stop feeding before supering then your honey will be fine.

If you ever feed a drop of syrup then some of it is in your honey. If you feed gallons of syrup right up until you super then I would consider that a significant amount that is in your honey. A good guess is that about the amount that is in the brood nest at the time you super will get moved up into the supers.

> May as well worry about the fact that every breath you take contains air that was breathed by Hitler and Genghis Khan.

I see no comparison here. The amount of air in the world compared to the amount the breathed to the amount I breath is insignificant. If I feed several gallons of syrup it is very significant. In terms of scope, you are literally comparing a mountain to a molehill. No, actually that's not even in the ballpark, I think a mountain and a molehill are closer in scope than the amount of air I breathe that Hitler breathed... and no, I don't worry about it at all...
 

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I love when people put words in my mouth.
>how do you keep straight if you might have sugar syrup or not?

Most people just pretend they don't know... don't ask, don't tell.
pre·tend - to act as if something is true when it is not true

I'm not trying to be combative but what you said seems to be that Most people just act as if their honey is pure when they know that it is not. I don't see how I put words in your mouth. It sounds like you are casting aspersions on "Most" beekeepers who feed.


If you feed syrup some of it ends up in your honey. No one likes to admit it. They like to pretend it doesn't happen. The more you feed, the more of it ends up in your honey... If you ever feed a drop of syrup then some of it is in your honey.
Maybe, but you are making an absolute statement without any reference to timing or state of the hive. Do you have any research to back that absolute statement up or is it just your opinion? If someone discards a can with a drop of mountian dew in it anywhere near your apiary during the honey season then THAT is in YOUR honey. Can you guarantee absolute purity then? No? Then you just have to hope for the best and pretend I guess.

My observation has generally been that during a period well into early flows healthy hives have used up much of their winter stores and have lots of brood to feed. During good weather they can keep up and even get ahead a bit, but a few days of not being able to forage because of weather quickly depletes anything they have brought in. Stores get low enough that they probably don't need to be moved around other than to feed brood - a dinky hive with lots of left over stores is different, but usually doesn't make a honey crop in my area. Later when the weather has settled and I add supers during inspections I can see nectar coming in. You can easily observe the differences from the different forage sources - some is thin and watery (dandelion I think), some is thick and clings to the comb (poplar) some clear, some amber... I personally have never noticed anything that looked like old feed being move up into supers. Not proof of course, but observation is what I have. Again, any scientific evidence about the situations where this might happen? That would be helpful.

The OP wasn't asking how to cheat - which of course happens - but how to conscientiously avoid contamination. Best practices are the tools we have to work with, and I suspect that when they are utilized any accidental contamination is below the level of detection by all but the most sensitive tests. Just like that air I mentioned.

Anyone who thinks that Their honey is as pure as a newborn baby's soul is probably pretending or delusional. But if you are trying to do the right thing then it is probably pure enough for any earthly standard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If you ever feed a drop of syrup then some of it is in your honey. If you feed gallons of syrup right up until you super then I would consider that a significant amount that is in your honey. A good guess is that about the amount that is in the brood nest at the time you super will get moved up into the supers.
This is the part that's nagging at me.

So do you feed your bees?

I know a years-long beekeeper near me who does not regularly feed her bees. Success in her bee survivability has gone up and down, but other factors are involved too, it may have nothing to do with feeding habits. I'm wondering if only light feeding when absolutely necessary for overwintered hives is a possibility, because frankly, I just don't want to have to deal with second guesses and doubts that my honey is 100% (or close enough) pure.

By the way, they don't really inform new beekeepers about this much, at least from what I've seen. This being my 3rd summer with bees, I'm still trying to figure it out. How many new beekeepers have either sold sugar syrup or eaten it, thinking honey is honey is honey?

A good beekeeping tool might be a handy honey monitoring device, to tell the exact non-honey sugar content in the supply.

Edit: Wanting more pure honey through less feeding probably would mean you have to leave more honey frames in the hives for the bees instead of taking them.

Edit edit: I think if you can learn how to get the timing down so you're efficient in when you feed, that would probably go a really long way.
 
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