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Discussion Starter #1
REMOVE FROM HEAT BEFORE YOU ADD THE SUGAR.

A week ago I made up a batch of fortified syrup based (loosely) on Lauri's recipe listed on Beemaster... to feed two nucs. I can't buy the exact same vitamin formula here in Spain but I got one that was close.

A few days later I noticed a lot of bees crawling on the ground in front of my hives, unable to fly. My first thought was that I screwed up using a different mix and that something in the vitamin supplement (some ingredients of which don't appear in Lauri's recipe) had hurt them. But I started to read on the forums and then I thought I had tracheal mites. Then, perhaps nosema....

... then, fortunately, right here on BS, I read a post that mentioned as a possible cause of this symptom, boiled syrup. And I remembered that when I made up that batch of fortified syrup, I had let it heat too long and it had started to boil, just a bit, but it did boil.

That day (two days ago) I pulled the syrup and yesterday I inspected the hives - the two nucs that had been fed with that syrup had bees on the bottom boards that couldn't fly and many bees dropped off of frames, unable to fly. I placed fresh syrup on the nucs, and today, when I checked, no more crawling bees.

I hope I didn't hurt the nucs too bad, but either way, I learned a lesson the hard way - when making syrup, REMOVE THE HEAT BEFORE YOU ADD THE SUGAR. I have read many posts that even say just use hot tap water if it is light (1:1) syrup.

I knew that you shouldn't let syrup "carmelize" but I didn't realize even just a light boil can make the syrup toxic to the bees.

It seems there is no limit to the number of ways you can screw the pooch in this hobby. :pinch:

I hope this post saves at least one other person from making the same mistake I did. Given that they symptoms are typical of tracheal mites, one could easily misdiagnose the problem if you didn't find the right thread when investigating possible causes...

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well it either boiled longer than I thought, or perhaps I was right to begin with and the vitamin supplement I used either contained something toxic to bees or I did the math wrong (converting to a different quantity of syrup AND from English to Metric)....

I think I will redo the math, and later I will try the fortified syrup on ONE nuc, and watch them closely to observe any effects.

The syrup I put in yesterday is just three liters of water, three kilos of sugar, and one teaspoon of cider vinegar (to correct pH).
 

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I have some 5 gal buckets of honey that are 30 years old. I was trying to feed it back to the bees in syrup, rather than using sugar. I boiled it to ensure that there were no bacteria in it. I ended up with bees on the ground after a few days, but found after a bit, that it was because the mix was fermenting rather than being toxic. Boiling the mix killed the natural enzymes that perhaps may have still been in the honey??? In either case, I now use 1:1 sugar, with only about 3/4 cup of the old honey for flavor, in warm water, with no problems. I wondered how the old honey mix could be fermenting without yeast, and then I realized that pollen is full of natural yeasts and the bees bring it to the bottle. So if they drank the bottle in only a few days, I had no problem, however if they slowed down and it took weeks, I would start to see drunk bees. I taste it, and sure enough... fermenting.

I had not heard that scorching sugar made it toxic to bees. Good to know, but I fail to see how boiling the sugar mix, only minimally, would cause a problem. Simple chemistry would only have it better able to dissolve. Boiling honey, however kills the enzymes that help keep bacteria from growing in it.
 

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If you are following Laurie's recipe why are you heating syrup ? Her recipe is put together without heating and then placed in a dehydrator to harden the cakes. You might want to go back and take another look at your process and her recipe. :)
 

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When making the 1-1 syrup, I use equal parts Water and Sugar and mix it with a Cordless drill and a paint mixer that they use for 5 Gal. Buckets of Paint. Let it sit a while and then mix some more. Haven't had any problems yet. My $.02 worth.
 

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I use 1kg to 1 litre with some apple cidar vinegar with no ill effects. I usually heat the water, add the sugar and lower the heat. As long as the sugar or syrup doesn't look like caramel you should be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If you are following Laurie's recipe why are you heating syrup ? Her recipe is put together without heating and then placed in a dehydrator to harden the cakes. You might want to go back and take another look at your process and her recipe. :)
I wasn't making patties, I was making syrup, from the recipe at Beemaster: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=44468.0

It doesn't say to heat it, but I have always done it to make the sugar dissolve easier.

But after I found this thread, which states that crawling bees can a symptom of (among other things) syrup that has been boiled:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?260877-Bees-on-ground-in-front-of-hive ...

....
"When exposed to warm temperatures, sugar can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.

The scientists measured levels of HMF in sugar products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit."

HMF was determined to be a factor in "Gulf War Syndrome" with all the drinks and foods sitting out in steel shipping containers in the desert. You probably never heard of HMF in Desert Storm because the same group that lobbied to change HFCS to Corn Sugar hushed the story. HMF is a neurotoxin that breaks down the nerve synapsis. If you get bees crawling out front like they are drunk or sick it could be HMF.
EMPHASIS ADDED by me.

Anyway, if people don't want to learn from my own experience, so be it. I will never again place sugar in water that is still over a flame. The sugar will dissolve without doing it... and it CAN cause a problem, so why risk it? But it goes without saying you all can do what you like.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Also from above linked thread:


mix sugar and hot water until all of the sugar is dissolved, hot tap water is hot enough to dissolve the sugar; or mix the sugar with hot—NOT BOILING—water that has been heated over a stove or micro. never let the sugar water solution boil over direct heat; syrup that is burned or caramelized, will cause high bee mortality....
 

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Do you "have" to feed right now or is there flowers and trees leafing out? Why feed if they have food that they can find? I know that probably opened a can of worms.
 

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I wasn't making patties, I was making syrup, from the recipe at Beemaster: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=44468.0

It doesn't say to heat it, but I have always done it to make the sugar dissolve easier.

But after I found this thread, which states that crawling bees can a symptom of (among other things) syrup that has been boiled:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?260877-Bees-on-ground-in-front-of-hive ...
Here is an interesting article from honey bee suite about "Hydroxymethylfurfural" http://www.honeybeesuite.com/hydroxymethylfurfural-is-not-good-for-bees/
Although it is in regards to HFC it is relevant. I also went to wikipedia and found out that acid is used in the production of HMF, so maybe by adding vinegar combined with boiling syrup produces increased toxicity. I too had bees wandering around on the ground in front of my hives dying. I thought at first it was Tracheal mites, but I found no K wing. I'm almost sure now that I was poisoning them with HMF because we only have raw water that needs to be boiled so I was heating the sugar and water together, and bringing it to a boil. I still boil my water now but I mix the sugar in after removing it from the heat.
Colino
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here is an interesting article from honey bee suite about "Hydroxymethylfurfural" http://www.honeybeesuite.com/hydroxymethylfurfural-is-not-good-for-bees/
Although it is in regards to HFC it is relevant. I also went to wikipedia and found out that acid is used in the production of HMF, so maybe by adding vinegar combined with boiling syrup produces increased toxicity. I too had bees wandering around on the ground in front of my hives dying. I thought at first it was Tracheal mites, but I found no K wing. I'm almost sure now that I was poisoning them with HMF because we only have raw water that needs to be boiled so I was heating the sugar and water together, and bringing it to a boil. I still boil my water now but I mix the sugar in after removing it from the heat.
Colino
Thanks, great info! I know some people aren't having a problem, but it is important I think that people know it CAN happen, in case they have symptoms, it is one more possible cause. If I hadn't stumbled across that thread here I never would have figured it out....

Cheers.
 

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Thanks, great info! I know some people aren't having a problem, but it is important I think that people know it CAN happen, in case they have symptoms, it is one more possible cause. If I hadn't stumbled across that thread here I never would have figured it out....

Cheers.
Forrest:
Did you notice if any of your dying bees were sort of hunched over dragging there stinger against the ground? Some of mine were and it could be because HMF ulcerates their gut.
Colino
 

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Forrest,
In your opening post you mentioned that you were using sugar to make your syrup and that it boiled just a little bit, so I don't think you have found the source your problem yet because when I make sugar bricks I boil the heavy sugar syrup for 10 minuets and the bees show no adverse reaction to it, in fact 2 of my nucs thrived on it this past winter.

Colino's link is in reference to high-fructose corn syrup which is different than sugar, I am not a commercial beekeeper but I do think that they will use HFCS to ready their bees for winter and unless I am very mistaken they do not boil it. :)
 

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Forrest,
In your opening post you mentioned that you were using sugar to make your syrup and that it boiled just a little bit, so I don't think you have found the source your problem yet because when I make sugar bricks I boil the heavy sugar syrup for 10 minuets and the bees show no adverse reaction to it, in fact 2 of my nucs thrived on it this past winter.

Colino's link is in reference to high-fructose corn syrup which is different than sugar, I am not a commercial beekeeper but I do think that they will use HFCS to ready their bees for winter and unless I am very mistaken they do not boil it. :)
The article covers why HFC, if heated can produce HMF, I said it was relevant because it gives temps etc. at which these toxins can form. Do you add anything acidic to your sugar bricks when making them? That is another factor involved here.
Colino
 

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Nothing acidic is added to my sugar bricks however in 2012 when I was feeding several hives through the summer and fall I added vinegar to my sugar syrup and the bees showed no ill effects from it and I fed a lot of syrup that summer to get them through the coming winter.

In reference to the HFCS producing HMF this is a result of heating the HFCS and therefor relevant to the HFCS and not sugar, if there is a study on toxic effects of heat on granulated sugar I would like to see that study however as Michael bush has stated, as long as you don't scorch the sugar there should be no problems with boiling it and when I make sugar bricks I boil it 10 minuets till it reaches the hard ball state with no ill effects to the bees. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well I know the syrup is the problem because the two nucs that I fed it to had the wigged out bees - like I said, they were crawling on the bottom boards too....

I see three possibilites (all of which I am taking into account as of now):

1. I let the syrup boil longer than I believed.

2. The addition of vinegar while the sugar was boiling can have a similar effect to that described in the article referenced by Colino.

3. It was neither of these - but rather one of the following:

a) I screwed up the math and over dosed them with the vitamin mix

OR

b) Something in this particular supplement mix (not identical to Lauri's) is harmful to the bees. If I get a chance tomorrow, I will post pics of the labels on the supplements, see what you guys think. I will also give the dosage rates I used (I wrote them down).

In the meantime, I am using syrup, and letting it cool completely before I add cider vinegar (1 tsp per gallon of syup). If that dosage is off let me know, I just did another batch and won't add vinegar till tomorrow.

Cheers and thanks to everyone!

Forrest
 

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Well I know the syrup is the problem because the two nucs that I fed it to had the wigged out bees - like I said, they were crawling on the bottom boards too....

I see three possibilites (all of which I am taking into account as of now):

1. I let the syrup boil longer than I believed.

2. The addition of vinegar while the sugar was boiling can have a similar effect to that described in the article referenced by Colino.

3. It was neither of these - but rather one of the following:

a) I screwed up the math and over dosed them with the vitamin mix

OR

b) Something in this particular supplement mix (not identical to Lauri's) is harmful to the bees. If I get a chance tomorrow, I will post pics of the labels on the supplements, see what you guys think. I will also give the dosage rates I used (I wrote them down).

In the meantime, I am using syrup, and letting it cool completely before I add cider vinegar (1 tsp per gallon of syup). If that dosage is off let me know, I just did another batch and won't add vinegar till tomorrow.

Cheers and thanks to everyone!

Forrest
Also take into account my bees showed the same symptoms as yours except I didn't add vitamin mix. One more thing I'm using refined beet sugar from sugar beets.
 
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