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Thanks to Michael Bush, Mountaincamp, and BWrangler, I have come up with a new plan for my winter bee feed. Before I try it out, I'm wondering if anyone else has jumped to the same conclusion I have...

1. So per MB's plethora of info, sugar pH is 6 and honey pH is 4 and with a pH closer to that of honey, the usual bee "annoyances" (nosema, chalkbrood, etc.) are less of a problem.

2. Mountaincamp's suggested winter feed of sugar on newspaper on the top bars is reported to be wonderfully easy and effective.

3. Bee Wrangler has reported that adding Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to pollen substitute results in SIGNIFICANT increases in the bee's taking the pollen substitute...

So my conclusion is... Feed granular sugar on newspaper on the top bars with ascorbic acid mixed in to bring down the pH closer to that of nectar/honey. Per BWrangler, the bees should love it. Per MB, the diseases should hate it.

BTW, my bees are from (mostly) feral stock and are on natural (foundationless) comb.

Anyone tried this??? (this should be a fun thread :))

-Pete
 

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As long as you don't overdo the Ascorbic acid, it should work fine. It still won't be the same as honey, but it may be more attractive and less of a detriment to beneficial microbes and less of an advantage to pathogens.
 

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How do you plan to blend the ascorbic acid into the granulated sugar? How will you measure the resulting pH?
 

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I have come up with a new plan for my winter bee feed. Before I try it out, I'm wondering if anyone else has jumped to the same conclusion I have...
I suppose your plan is ok for emergency feeding, but...

What's wrong with the age old plan of feeding 2:1. If fed enough early enough, the feed is right there in the combs where the bees need it....sealed, safe, and in contact with the cluster where it belongs...

From R O B Manley...a noted apiculturist and author from the UK...

"September is the best month for feeding bees up for the winter. Feed given by feeding syrup at this early season will be stored well and sealed securely; making it as nearly as equal to honey as it is possible for sugar syrup to be."

Honey Farming, R O B Manley, 1946
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How do you plan to blend the ascorbic acid into the granulated sugar? How will you measure the resulting pH?
Ha! Haven't figured that part out yet. This will be an experiment, so it won't be done large-scale - probably just 2 (of my 15 or so) hives...

What's wrong with the age old plan of feeding 2:1. If fed enough early enough, the feed is right there in the combs where the bees need it....sealed, safe, and in contact with the cluster where it belongs...
Feeding? In the fall?

Well... What I usually do is let the bees have the fall honey, but this year was quite strange what with all the rain we had here in the east, and there was no fall honey. I got most colonies topped off with sugar syrup, but a few are lighter than I'd prefer. I'm planning to put granular sugar on the top bars of all my hives, for a number of reasons discussed in other threads here, but mostly so there's another source of food up top should they need it.

-Pete
 

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My concern with this pH obsession is that the reference used is honey. Feeding syrups should be compared to natural nectar, in my opinion. As most nectar producing plants couldn’t survive in soil, or with water that had a pH anywhere near that of honey, I have to believe that their nectar is typically closer to neutral. I’m guessing that the bees lower the pH of nectar with enzymes in the production of honey. Unless I miss my guess, the lower pH is important in honey's long term storage and less important as a consumeable. Bees, as I understand it, when consuming honey, usually mix it with water. The addition of that water surely raises the pH of the consumed product. Am I wrong?
 

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I'm using the mountaincamp method this year on some light hives. Last year i left plenty of honey on my hives but they were short on, or no pollen, and what i thought was a strong hive didn't raise a good winter brood and the old bees died off and left a small cluster that froze and starved to death with honey within 1 to 2 inches from them. I think alot of this will happen to beekeepers who had excess fall rain this year. I hope i'm wrong. Jack
 

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I think that the big assumption here is that those 'pests' affecting our bees propogate (or at least utilize) in the nectar cells prior to it becomming honey (with the lower pH), and that by feeding the bees with a lower pH nectar-substitute, be it liquid or dry, inhibits this step or at least retards whatever the pests glean from the pre-honey period.

I think it is a great idea, but worthless if the pests don't utilize, or are independent of high pH nectar in some step in their cycle.
 

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>The addition of that water surely raises the pH of the consumed product.

Yes. Water will neutralize things somewhat, not only because it is neutral, but because it acts as a buffer. The OH in the water can act as a base and the H can act as an acid thus making it a buffer.

>I think that the big assumption here is that those 'pests' affecting our bees propogate (or at least utilize) in the nectar cells prior to it becomming honey (with the lower pH), and that by feeding the bees with a lower pH nectar-substitute, be it liquid or dry, inhibits this step or at least retards whatever the pests glean from the pre-honey period.

There is research to show that the microbes living in bees digestive system that thrive on nectar die when the bees are fed sugar syrup.

There have been observations for about a century that hives fed sugar syrup are more susceptible to AFB.

Those same microbes in their stomach are essential to inoculating the bee bread so it will ferment correctly and to crowding out pathogens in their stomachs which would be where brood diseases incubate before being fed to the brood.
 

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So, with a lower pH 'nectar' (dry or liquid) that the bees are internally digesting into the finished product, you would expect some additional degree of pathogen inhibition?
 

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What is the pH of the newspaper? Or are you assuming the newspaper is of an insignificant effect?
 

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Hi everyone! I'm new here.
Interesting thread. Since you were talking about PH of newspaper I thought I would add for your information that it kills the ecoli bacteria. I think it has something to do with the ink.
I saw this on the Nature of Things with David Suzuki.
He had wiped his kitchen table down with a ecoli filled dish rag and then layed his morning newspaper on the table. When it was tested later in the day the whole table was covered with the ecoli bacteria but clean under the newspaper.
 

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I sure hope to heck that there isn't any e coli in my bee hives. Let's not start a scare here.
 

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Honey also acts like an antiseptic due to it's hygroscopic qualities. Honey likes to absorb moisture, and it can 'suck' the water out of microbes and bacteria, which basically dries them out and kills them.
 
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