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Icing Sugar Treatment


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I guess this has been discussed before, but for a very small hobby beekeeper like me would sugar dusting for varroa be of any benefit? I realize this would be an impracticable method for anyone with multiple hives but dusting 2 hives once a week would be easy.

 

I'm reading Beekeeping For Dummies on my e-reader at the moment and this is a method he (American) recommends. Any thoughts?

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At an average of only 11 kg a hive, that's not bad at all. For anyone wondering.. that figure is quite compatible with stimulation feeding for pollination and doesn't indicate in any way a beekeeper

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We did it last season and it does remove the mites walking on the bees, and I think it does reduce the mites.

 

But you can't rely on it for the only treatment, think of it as one thing you do to reduce the mites.

 

You have to also be doing some other form of treatments, unless that hive has a very low mite count. But watch out as Varroa as very good at doubling in number.

 

Give it a go, remember you will need a screened bottom board to do it.

 

We have a video of us doing it last year, which explains the process:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp9uaoGZYKM

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So do you then count the mites on the base of the hive so you can detect a decrease in mite levels?

 

It takes a few days for the count to become accurate again, you will get very high counts after doing a sugar shake.

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It would make sense to me to do counts after sugar shakes. You have a trigger and can measure the end result. If you do a sugar shake and count ~3 days after and do them say 2 or 3 weeks apart then you can monitor mite levels. The trigger is important for an accurate indication as it gives a timeframe for mites to fall through a mesh.

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Great video! I like the idea of non toxic controls for varroa.

 

I do however have a wierd horror of introducing bees to highly processed sugar products. Ideally as a beekeeper I'd want to leave honey for overwintering/feeding and not have to feed sugar solution at all.

 

Does anyone have any thoughts about the effects of feeding bees highly processed sugars when their natural diet is honey, which is highly nutritional?

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On some web sites a person who feeds their bees sugar is portrayed as almost as evil as an axe murderer. :)

 

In particular the word "processed" is seized on as the embodiment of evil.

 

However white sugar processed by Chealsea Sugar Refinery has little in it that will cause bees harm. In fact, for areas with long cold winters, it can be argued that bees will come through more healthy on refined sugar (not brown), than they would if wintered on honey. That's because refined NZ sugar has a lower ash content than honey. It is the ash content that causes bees confined by the weather to defacate inside the hive, which spreads nosema disease.

 

For an interesting video on how sugar is made check this. (Ignore the first few seconds).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SgkolWWcLM

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firstly go hard peejay as long as you monitoring, and things get out of control you can hit it with something else, sugar shaking defiantly works as way of getting a really good idea on how many mites you have in your hive eg the 300 bees in a jar method. kiwimana i think this is good but i think you should try and take it another step perhaps blowing the sugar though the frames more, have you looked in after treatment to see how far though the sugar got, remembering it doesn't take much for moisture to attract to sugar, then the particles are to big to have any affect, so to get it though the hole hive is the trick. have you done counts before treatment and then after those would be interesting.

 

Now cyathea we are commercial bee keepers and we feed approx 10 tonne of sugar a season over approx 900 hives. Firstly for those whose jaw just dropped that's actually not that bad compared to some, most of this is feed because of kiwifruit pollination, I'm not going into all the details of this here but heres some info for you. When you feed sugar it stimulates the the hive into thinking there is a flow on so then what happens is the Q starts laying which equals more bees and the more bees the more feed required, and if this is done when theirs a pollen shortage the young larva i assume don't get feed properly which then what happens? can't be good long term on the hive, another thing that can happen if feeding to much sugar is you can and will burn out the bees solely from just having to process it, now what we do to avoid and lessen this is we invert the sugar ( invert sugar) which is done when we turn the sugar to syrup we add oxalic acid, i don't know the science exactly but it basicly takes a process out that the bees don't have to do. Now out of all this I'm not a fan of feeding sugar in the winter we only do it if the hive really needs it, I believe the hives winter way better if you leave enough stores on.

A bit to digest and hope it can be added to

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The sugar is provided as a syrup - either 1:1 or 2:1 of sugar and water by weight. There are plenty of suggestions on the internet on how to feed it - from hive top feeders through to ziplock baggies. Generally always put it in the hive to discourage robbing.

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Thanks Tony, so when you 'feed' sugar, the bees aren't actually feeding on the sugar solution, they are using it as nectar substitute to make honey?

Yes - however analysis would show the "honey" to be sugar based not nectar. Use it as feed not to make honey.

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Great video! I like the idea of non toxic controls for varroa.

 

I do however have a wierd horror of introducing bees to highly processed sugar products. Ideally as a beekeeper I'd want to leave honey for overwintering/feeding and not have to feed sugar solution at all.

 

Does anyone have any thoughts about the effects of feeding bees highly processed sugars when their natural diet is honey, which is highly nutritional?

I think most on this forum feed when they judge they need to (when the honey stocks are exhausted) and there is a dearth of nectar. Therefore we agree with you re sugar. You only add it at a cost - the nectar comes for free.

 

I think once it's (the sugar) in the bee gut it becomes some derivative of c6H12O6 so is not too far from natural product. The posts above from Tony and Alastair Little are very good.

 

The general opinion seems to be to leave enough honey on the hive over winter for the hive and not get too greedy. It is a judgement call and a longer and colder than planned winter could throw the calcs out. I think once varroa treatments go in the honey is best/only good for bee feed so that forces that decision.

 

Cheers

 

Roger

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So to answer your above question yes it is a nectar substitute but not to make honey but they consume it like nectar and i assume process much the same way dehydrating etc,, ( someone else might be able to say exactly what the process is) then store it, or eat it immediately if really short.

 

Ok if the need arises and you find your self short on food theres a few ways to over come this, now if you hobbyist the cheapest method is to hold onto some surplus honey frames best is to use the same frames from the same hive due to the spreading of AFB numbering frames or some way of recognising will help. Its because of the spread of AFB that sugar has become the safest substitute to feeding hives and if you have a AFB problem I would insist that sugar is your only option. Their are many different ways to do this and we all have our preferred ways this mainly is what suits our systems. This is the Basics of sugar feeding, is best done internally in the hive to avoid wasps ants etc etc.. now you can feed straight table (white or raw) sugar as is, if your hive is starting to fall short on feed( not starving) and you want to boost their stores, their are many ways of doing this the simplest is probably on a sheet of paper above the brood allowing room for access im sure others will tell their storey on how they do it, which you will see some novel ways. Now if your hive is starving or close to starving then sugar syrup is you option same deal ordinary table sugar (white or raw) heat up some water and add sugar until dissolved, autumn/ winter generally syrup is thicker and spring can be a bit thinner, again done in the hive with many different methods. if starving wait till luke warm then feed. Hope this helps for now.

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we feed approx 10 tonne of sugar a season over approx 900 hives. Firstly for those whose jaw just dropped that's actually not that bad compared to some, most of this is feed because of kiwifruit pollination

 

At an average of only 11 kg a hive, that's not bad at all. For anyone wondering.. that figure is quite compatible with stimulation feeding for pollination and doesn't indicate in any way a beekeeper who is taking too much or trying to pump up honey production with sugar.

 

we invert the sugar ( invert sugar) which is done when we turn the sugar to syrup we add oxalic acid, i don't know the science exactly but it basicly takes a process out that the bees don't have to do.

 

White sugar, sucrose is C12 H22 O11. Its molecular structure looks rather like a hexagon and a pentagon holding hands. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucrose It is the most common sugar in nectar, and the sugar most preferred by bees.

 

When bees eat nectar, they add an enzyme called 'invertase' to the nectar to process the sucrose. Invertase acts as a catalyst, so the bees can twist that hexagon and pentagon apart, producing a molecule each of:

 

Note - glucose and fructose have the same chemical formula, but different structures.

 

Also note that when you add up the C, H and Os in the formulas for glucose and fructose , you end up with C12 H24 O12 - two hydrogen molecules and an oxygen molecules more than are in the formula for sucrose (C12, H22, O11). Ten points if you get this before I say what's missing....

 

two hydrogen molecules, one oxygen = H2O. One molecule of water.

 

For the bees to use their invertase to turn a molecule of sucrose into a molecule each of glucose and fructose, they need to use a molecule of water as well. This is why feeding syrup (sucrose dissolved in water) is easier on the bees than feeding dry sugar - the syrup has both the ingredients they need. (The invertase is produced by a gland in their head).

 

The key sugars in honey are glucose and fructose (eg, 95% plus of the solids content). Some heavier in one than the other, and many still have some sucrose in it (the bees aren't 100% efficient in processing either nectar or white sugar). Honeys also can have other sugars in them (there's a bunch of them ending in 'ose' - and some are actually not good for bees).

 

....where was I going?

 

...oh yeah.. .so what Tony is doing by adding oxalic acid to the syrup is inverting the sugar - the oxalic acts as the invertase would and turns the sucrose into frucose and glucose... at which point the job's half done for the bees.

 

The bees have two discreet nutrution sources - nectar for carbohydrate, and pollen for protein, minerals and just about everything else. Nectar does have some small levels of vitamins and other things in it, but very small, and it is not clear if bees even can/do use them. Think of pollen as the building blocks of the bee vehicle, and nectar as the petrol in the gas tank.

 

So for anyone wondering about the evils of feeding 'nutritionally empty' white sugar to bees.. challenge your thinking. It might be empty carbs for us, but it's as close to natural fuel (nectar) as we can get for the bees. The processing that white sugar goes through actually removes everything that a bee cannot digest - it makes the sugar better for the bee, not worse.

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We did it last season and it does remove the mites walking on the bees, and I think it does reduce the mites.

 

But you can't rely on it for the only treatment, think of it as one thing you do to reduce the mites.

 

You have to also be doing some other form of treatments, unless that hive has a very low mite count. But watch out as Varroa as very good at doubling in number.

 

Give it a go, remember you will need a screened bottom board to do it.

 

We have a video of us doing it last year, which explains the process:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp9uaoGZYKM

 

I followed tho process last year, inspired by the KiwiMana video, relying on it for the main method of mite control, unfortunately I wasn't very good at monitoring the mite count, assuming it had worked OK and lost one hive, the other hive was OK after Apistan as well but only just,

.

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As a newcomer to BEEKNG this is so great. Most of the analytical stuff has been done for us. Not something I enjoy!!

So how does one supliment pollen should (Heaven forbid) I mis-manage my 2 hives???

 

I would have thought that if your bees have a large and varied forage their pollen will not need supplementing. I may be wrong though...

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Hi Katikita

 

Kerry's right - not too many places have pollen dearths, and if I take it from your location that you're town-based then you're just about guaranteed it won't ever be an issue.

 

That said though, there are pollen supplements around. Recipes for some you make yourself and other 'just add water' type brands. Pollen is a very much more complex issue than nectar though, and I can't say I know as much about it as I'd like, but while sucrose is a rather good alternative where nectar is unavailable, I think it's fair to say that most pollen supplements are a poor alternative to real pollen.

 

Long and short - you should be fine. If you do hit a nectar/honey shortage, feed syrup. If you hit an apparent pollen shortage... first off consider whether it is a time of year the bees should be raising brood anyway - to add supplements is to add stimulation and you might be interfering with a natural shutdown and setting them up for a later fall.

 

If you do need to feed pollen supplement at any point... well.. can't help you much there since I haven't done it myself.

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I tried a pollen supplement last year as a nervous new beekeeper making sure the girls would be OK for winter. They didn't like it and hardly touched it, having plenty of real pollen to collect. They quickly soaked up the syrup I fed them, however.

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