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Honey vs syrup & over wintering

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elainemary 

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Hello
Can anyone share any scientific papers or research studies, which prove / disprove the benefits or otherwise, of bees feeding on their own honey over winter vs being fed syrup?
I know some beekeepers feel strongly one way or the other and intuitively it feels honey is best. I’m really keen to understand the facts though as a result of scientific studies, if they exist!?
Elaine
 
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Hello
Can anyone share any scientific papers or research studies, which prove / disprove the benefits or otherwise, of bees feeding on their own honey over winter vs being fed syrup?
I know some beekeepers feel strongly one way or the other and intuitively it feels honey is best. I’m really keen to understand the facts though as a result of scientific studies, if they exist!?
Elaine
I see it as this some colonys need the extra sugar supplement otherwise they wouldn't get through the winter.
We take there honey supplies for our own consumption and then there's bad weather a dearth for weeks.
Do you dicide to feed the honey you have collected from the supers and feed it back to them or do you take minimal honey and leave them half of the supers, this is OK if your a hobbyist but if its a business maybe there is two different aspects or ways at looking at it??
I've noticed some times colonys will store minimal honey in the brood box and put it all in the supers and visa versa filling the brood and putting honey in the supers last..
Im slowly becoming a bee farmer and to me sugar is a colony saver, stimulant and has helped save many a colony.
To feed only honey I would be feeding most of what I extract back to the bees.
To me there has to be a difference between hobbest and bee farmer. Ie the way you feed treat and in some ways look after your bees.
 

GuyNir 

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I thought the OP is asking from a bee health aspect. Maybe I misunderstood?
 

drex 

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Not exactly an answer to what the OP was asking, but I suggest they Google " fat bees skinny bees" - a manual of bee nutrition. Gives some useful info
 

bobthecob 

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I have looked before and I can't find any such papers. There are certainly papers that indicate that feeding sucrose (i.e. normal white sugar) syrup has a positive effect on wintering ability, but that isn't quite the same thing as you are asking. And of course there are studies that show that other types of syrup (e.g. corn syrup) are bad for bees, but that isn't really an issue in the UK thankfully.

For example

Not a scientific paper clearly, but this YouTube video is interesting on the subject, and fairly balanced (the introductory waffle ends after 4 mins 20 seconds or so so skip that if you want).


Honey does, according to this speaker, have a bit of protein in that the bees need, that sugar syrup of course lacks, but as long as the hive has pollen in I think this isn't an issue.

It's a shame that the speaker doesn't mention fondant, but my working assumption is that fondant has the same effect on a hive as feeding sugar syrup, given the ingredients.

So in summary, I suspect that a scientific study would not find a significant difference between hives that are left with their own honey, and hives which have most of the honey removed and are fed syrup or fondant. If someone can point me to a study that disproves this I would certainly welcome that.
 
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Niv 

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I attended a lecture by Prof David Evans recently and he said that his research has shown no advantage to giving honey over fondant for overwintering. He also has a website where I am sure he covers it somewhere: Welcome - The Apiarist .

There is a little in the blog : Blog - The Apiarist
 

fiat500bee 

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David Evans definitely likes sugar; but is he a bee scientist?

Most academic research papers are unfortunately not free to view.

Honey is widely considered to be a wonder product. I'm sure that bees will be healthier if they're raised solely on the food they make from nectar.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Hm! Bee scientist? I prefer the opinions of "A" scientists. ;)
Fair play, based on his experiences he does seem to believe that sugar is good for bees.
check on his work - he's a virologist doing some research on DWV at the moment and some really important work on CBPV.
He's a member of the forum so maybe, if he can be bothered he might reply to you directly.
 

madasafish 

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fiat500bee 

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If he can be bothered he might reply to you directly.
If he's a virologist he may have much important work to do at the moment so I don't expect a response. But if he did I would genuinely feel honoured even though I think he's too fondant of sugar. ;)
 
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Erichalfbee 

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If he's a virologist he may have much important work to do at the moment so I don't expect a response. But if he did I would genuinely feel honoured even though I think he's too fondant of sugar. ;)
If you go to his blog Welcome - The Apiarist and leave a message he will indeed get back to you.
 

Finman 

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Hello
Can anyone share any scientific papers or research studies, which prove / disprove the benefits or otherwise, of bees feeding on their own honey over winter vs being fed syrup?
I know some beekeepers feel strongly one way or the other and intuitively it feels honey is best. I’m really keen to understand the facts though as a result of scientific studies, if they exist!?
Elaine
Beekeeping Basic is that bees gather honey for winter Food. Then a beekeeper changed the expencive honey to low price sugar. In Finland the price of winter Food is about 12 € /hive.

Our hives need 9 months sugar to survive , to next summer. No one need scientific evidence. You have hives. Then you feed them with sugar and hives are alive next Spring. That is the evidence. I have fed my hives with sugar 58 years. If you do believe it, it is not my problem.

If you cannot believe your eyes, science cannot help your.
 

bingevader 

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As has already been mentioned, it is difficult to find free scientific papers.
I did have one, I will see if I can find it.
The up shot was that long term, honey is best.
So I suppose it depends how commercial your endeavours are.
If you are a back garden beekeeper, then I would advocate, as we do, that you leave as much honey as you can.
If you can only take the surplus, that would be best.
If it is a commercial enterprise and you are replacing queens on a regular basis, then I don't suppose it will make much difference.
I'm not advocating not feeding, mind you!
This has been a poor year, we haven't taken any honey yet and will be feeding a couple of the hives to get them through the winter.
 

ericbeaumont 

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I know some beekeepers feel strongly one way or the other
There lies the problem.

Some think that taking honey and feeding syrup is theft, unnatural, cruel or tight-fisted and that honey is innately best, better, more natural, kinder, blah, blah.

This much I have gathered: bees need carbohydrate in the winter to produce energy, but as little or no brood is reared the nutrients and minerals and other extras in honey are not truly necessary and syrup does the job just fine.

By comparison, the same minerals and pollen and extras in honey (which are essential in the summer) produce more waste than sugar, and though winter bees have a greater capacity than summer bees to store waste, there comes a point when it must be dumped.

Hive-bound bees may resort to off-loading in the hive (which is obviously bad news) and sugar is thus the winner as as it produces less waste while producing the same energy necessary for colony survival.
 

gmonag 

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... bees need carbohydrate in the winter to produce energy, but as little or no brood is reared the nutrients and minerals and other extras in honey are not truly necessary and syrup does the job just fine.

By comparison, the same minerals and pollen and extras in honey (which are essential in the summer) produce more waste than sugar...

Hive-bound bees may resort to off-loading in the hive (which is obviously bad news) and sugar is thus the winner as as it produces less waste while producing the same energy necessary for colony survival.
The bees produce bees all winter (with a break or two)

Do you have any proof or references to support these statements?
 

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