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I'm kinda sorry to have to say this, but there's been an interesting thread on you-know-where.

It started with someone contemplating putting food dye in spring syrup to see where it ended up.

The replies and anecdotes were interesting to say the least and should put a touch of caution into anyone regarding feeding syrup ad hoc.

Some of our members contributed to the thread so perhaps they would like to put their knowledge here too.

I can't as I've no experience, but have started the ball rolling......:)

Frisbee
 

oliver90owner 

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All I know is that dyed sugar was supplied to beeks during WWII for feeding the bees (during the winter?).

Apparently the 'dye in the sugar' was stopped when they found there was a lot of coloured honey on the market.....Whether all was by normal route or whether sugar was simply being converted to 'honey', I know not......but I suspect there were a few who would take advantage and make a quick profit.

Regards, RAB
 
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Yes.......that was the anecdotal, but one of our members has put food colouring in his feed recently, and I hope he doesn't mind me copying the post here :-

I did an experiment with one of my hives and added a blue food colouring to the winter feed, the bees were on a single National brood box.

Come spring I supered in the normal way, I had only one drawn super for this hive, so when that super was filling up I placed a new super of foundation under the first super above the brood box, the next super, still foundation was again supered below the other two supers, above the brood box, the final two supers that season went on top, I eventually ended up running this hive on brood and a half as it was a large colony.

Several interesting things showed up which changed the way I keep bees,

1. I don't think the colouring affected the colony, they drew out four supers of foundation and filled five supers in total in a season.

2. Most interesting, the blue coloured syrup made it into the first three supers the first super I put on (ending up as the third super by the end of the season) having the strongest colouration, mainly in the middle of the super fading to the edges.

3. The comb itself in the center of the three supers was blue in colour, what I don't know is weather or not the bees were producing blue comb or the wax absorbed the colouring.

4. What I do not know is weather the bees move their stores just up or up, down and around because at the time I only had foundation and so bottom supered, a better experiment would have been to supply the colony with only drawn comb and see where the syrup ended up.

5. Controversial, maybe, but I have now come to the conclusion that at least some of the honey we produce will have a certain amount of sugar syrup in! Makes you think though.
Which of course shows how the wartime rationed sugar ended up colouring the honey without any attempts at miss-deeds by the beeks. And of course also should put a very large question mark over how long spring syrup should be fed for, but as I say I have no experience, but was hoping for a lively thread on it, which doesn't seem to be happening.......84 views and only 1 reply :confused:

Frisbee
 
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Polyanwood 

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I've been thinking about this problem. Some of my colonies have virtually no stores after this hard Winter. There is no stores at all on any of the frames anywhere near the brood nest. But on sunny days they are bringing in nectar.

I have been feeding 1:1 syrup with a drop of thymol to the colonies at risk of starvation, but it feels like a balancing act. If the weather is bad, they will need it. If the nectar flow increases there is a risk I will have thrymol flavoured honey.
 

Firegazer 

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Frisbee,
it's probably sound to assume that EVERYTHING we put into a hive will eventually come out in the honey, to some extent.

Treating the colony AND all the combs as a single living 'creature', because they interact so strongly and in so many ways, anything we feed the colony or they gather themselves will affect the wax and the honey. Medications, feed, pollen patties, new frames, anything volatile in the hive components - they must all go in at some percentage.

I guess the most surprising point from the quoted comment was how long it took for the syrup to appear in the supers, and where it was put. I sort of assumed any feed or nectar would get consumed in roughly the order it entered the hive (little bees checking the 'Best Before' dates on each cell!). This clearly isn't the case, so unless the stores vanish completely - the colony nearly starves - the medications will continue to contribute an effect for a long time: maybe more than one season.

I guess a shook swarm doesn't completely break this effect either as if you smoke them a lot first, rather than surprising them (I guess that's the usual plan?) they will take as much of their stores with them in their honey stomachs as poss and start again in the new hive . . .

The same issue must affect queen fertility too: she will be exposed (to some extent) to every medication ever put in to that hive, or wherever those combs have been. If those medications (maybe some fade quickly, maybe some build up in concentration within the wax) do anything to the queen fertility, mating chances or general health, there could be long-term effects on the colony which are hard to predict but unlikely to be positive.

Does that give you more to chew on? :)

FG
 

rae 

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Damned if you do, damned if you don't. You either run the risk of losing your colony (starvation, varroa, nosema etc), or you risk syrup, thymol, fumidil ending up in the honey. As long as you're not deliberately extracting, feeding and treating at the same time, I'd not worry overly much. That said, I've only been doing this for a year, so what do I know!
 

peteinwilts 

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my two hives still have a huge amount of stores from last year, maybe from the syrup I gave them in Autumn.

If I add supers, would they move the sugar syrup up??
 

Poly Hive 

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I would like to know how much or how little the bee-keeper concerned worked the brood box.

At this time I am busy with my hive tool bruising the cappings and getting the frames laid up. I do not leave it to the bees, I point them in the right direction as it were.

All this before the supers go on.

PH
 

Firegazer 

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Sorry PH, could you explain what this bruising is about, please?

Are you trying to get the bees to move the stores to frames on the outside, so there is more room for brood-rearing?

FG
 

beebreeder 

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Bruising the cappings is just racking the hive tool across sealed frames of food so that the cappings are broken, bees then eat it and therefore very little chance of sugar landing in the supers, nothing technical.
kev
 

Poly Hive 

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I am not wanting them to move the stores I am pushing them to eat them up and make room for brood.

As above pull the flat of the hive tool across the wax so that the honey is exposed below. The bees will then eat it clean the cells, repair any damage and the queen will lay it up by the next inspection in a weeks time.

PH
 

Firegazer 

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I don't understand where the energy goes. Surely they can't just consume the honey and do nothing with it?

Won't they try and re-cap the cells, or put the honey somewhere more sensible, or make wax?

FG
 

ENZO 

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Hi PH,
that was my post and I did this test with blue food colouring when I first started as I always wondered if the bees moved the stores arround, to answer your question, I did not work the brood chamber, the bees were in a single National brood box, fed coloured syrup in autumn and in spring after the first inspection I noticed several frames of coloured stored, that is when I put on a QX and a drawn super. On their own with no interference, they moved the blue stored upstairs, probably to make room for the queen to lay I guess, the next super was only foundation and when drawn the comb was quite blue, I still have a few of these blue super frame combs but as I said in the post, I never knew if the comb got it's colour from the coloured honey or if the bees actually produced blue comb.

That little experiment has changed the way I now keep bees because as it's just been said, whatever goes in the hive will eventually end up in the honey to some degree.

And Frisbee, of course I don't mind you copying my post, it's on the net for all to see anyway.

All The Best, Enzo
 
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Mike a 

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Hi PH,
that was my post and I did this test with blue food colouring when I first started as I always wondered if the bees moved the stores arround, to answer your question, I did not work the brood chamber, the bees were in a single National brood box, fed coloured syrup in autumn and in spring after the first inspection I noticed several frames of coloured stored, that is when I put on a QX and a drawn super. On their own with no interference, they moved the blue stored upstairs, probably to make room for the queen to lay I guess, the next super was only foundation and when drawn the comb was quite blue, I still have a few of these blue super frame combs but as I said in the post, I never knew if the comb got it's colour from the coloured honey or if the bees actually produced blue comb.

That little experiment has changed the way I now keep bees because as it's just been said, whatever goes in the hive will eventually end up in the honey to some degree.

And Frisbee, of course I don't mind you copying my post, it's on the net for all to see anyway.

All The Best, Enzo
Did you take any pictures of the supers?
 

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I don't understand where the energy goes. Surely they can't just consume the honey and do nothing with it?

Won't they try and re-cap the cells, or put the honey somewhere more sensible, or make wax?

FG
I also do not really understand (glad I am not alone!). Surely the bees would not eat the honey for the sake of it. (as they must be eating now!)

By having full frames of stores AND brood, am I not risking a swarm by not allowing the bees to expand by moving their stores??

The blackthorne is out and the bees are bringing in plenty of nectar.
 

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Hello Mike, I don't have the supers as such anymore as I didn't want to contaminate any more honey, but I did keep a few blue blue comb frames, I am not sure how to post a photo but I'll give it a try, all I have to do now is remember what I did with these blue combs, quite shocking to see though.

Enzo
 

Mike a 

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I went to the Bath & West county show a few years ago and there was one dark honey for sale there with a taster pot for people to try before you buy. It had a slight after-taste which I didn't like as it almost felt like the burn of chills or a tiny amount of a strong curry powder and bitter at the same time... I was told by a few assoc members it was most likely to be from a small amount of Ivy honey mixed in to get rid of it but I'm wondering now if it was a very diluted treatment given to the bees the year before and they moved it up into the supers.

So much for the rule of not using any forms of treatment when the supers are on your study blows this completely away imho.

I wonder how often trading standards test honey sold by amateur beeks?
 

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