Everybody is aware that sugar in any form if being fed to honeybees can and certainly will effect quality of honey. But does it happen always? Be assured that topic of Sugar Syrups And Patties is much deeper than that. How and when does sugar effect honey, and how to prevent it is the topic of this article. I know some will judge right away without even proceeding to read article further, but such people will more likely fall into traps of fake beekeepers that are selling processed sugar instead of real honey.
Honeybees, in terms of feeding are just like any other animal from which humanity benefits. During spring and summer there is abundance of food in nature and they eat well and prosper. Then, there is winter period too, when there’s lack of food in nature. Just as farmers do, so do beekeepers. There is no difference when it comes to feeding our animals during winter. We resort to fresh sources of food as much as we can, but if there is not enough food, we must feed them in order that they can survive. Their natural diet consists of pollen and nectar.
Nectar, depending from which flower it comes has different values of sucrose, fructose and glucose. Food which beekeepers give to them, as an alternative, is processed sugar in form of syrups and sugar patties. Sometimes this will effect quality of honey, sometimes not at all! So what’s the difference?
Do Sugar Syrups and Patties Effect Quality of Honey
Well, yes they do and no they do not! Difference is in TIME, and PLACE in which sugar feeding is introduced to colonies. Since during season of spring we harvest honey from honeybees, we literally plunder their reserves. If we do not give them alternative food for winter, bees will be without food. That means that they must be given alternative food, months before even autumn comes close in form of sugar syrup. This syrup will be processed into “sugar honey” and stashed for later which will be source of food for honeybees. Does this mean that you will be sold sugar honey? Not at all. This supply will be food of winter honeybees.
Winter bees (autumn and winter) live for months unlike honeybees from other times of year, which live just bit over a month. Reason for that winter bees do not work. Sugar honey will be processed during summer and autumn, but will be used by winter bees. Those bees live through entire winter and they will die in early spring and be exchanged by new generations. All honeybees that lived off sugar honey will be long dead before flowers starting giving nectar which bees use to produce natural honey.
Some will wonder, what about Queen, she ate sugar honey for whole winter, it must have effect on her offsprings. Not at all, she doesn’t eat honey at all, she’s fed by royal jelly, so she cant transfer any “side effects” of unnatural honey to new bees. Once again, bees that lived off sugar honey will die due to “old age” in early spring.
Furthermore, if there are any honeycombs left in colonies before honeybees start gathering nectar from nature, a responsible beekeeper will simply harvest, or give it to weaker colonies which will spend that honey on their brood. In this way honeybees will stash real honey into honeycombs. What about remnants of sugar in cells? They do not exist, because bees will cleanse each cell after honeycombs are returned to super.
Ultimately, a beekeeper can exchange supers, so that the honey super would become a brood super and vice versa. Each cell which will be continuously cleansed, each time before a queen would lay an egg into it. In a year time entire super would be cleansed dozens of times!
As for sugar patties, there was differences in opinion if honeybees process it as syrup or do they eat it directly like honey. Correct opinion is that honeybees eat it directly so it does not have any effect of quality of honey. But just to be on safe side, do not add them during nectar gathering seasons.
In conclusion, only REAL danger, of effecting honey quality by sugar based feeds is if this is given during collection of nectar from nature. This unfortunately is practice of many irresponsible beekeepers today in their chase for profit. Due to this malpractice, I can only advise you to buy honey from trusted beekeepers.