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Honey vs Sugar

There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about feeding bees. This is primarily due to not understanding the needs of bees. Some is also do to the philosophical ideas of the beekeepers. Most with vary good intentions.

Lets start by understanding who is on the food list in the hive. We need to remember is the hive is called a colony for a reason. Not only is the 'entity' of the honey bee the basic queen workers, larvae and drones. It is also the organisms in the gut of the bees(egg larvae pupae and adult) the, the honey sack, etc. Insects mites, bacteria, protozoa, viruses fungi etc that just live in the hive. All are feed by the foods harvested by the foraging bees.

The balance of these organism are key to the health of the hive. The relationship is complex. The principal simple. A balanced community is health. Our goal in feeding is to help maintain the balance.

The adult bees are primarily sugar eaters. Larvae Pollen and sugar Queens primarily royal jelly with some honey. Sugar provides calories pollen protein. As with us we are not feeding ourselves but the organisms that live in our gut. Bacteria convert the sugar to substances the bee needs to keep alive. We know that nectar is the primary source of sugars for the colony. Other natural sources include sap aphid poop. The forager as she collects sugar sources puts it in her honey sack were the bacteria an enzymes begin the process of conversion from nectar to honey. On returning to the hive she transfers this mix to a house bee who takes it from the forager and transfers it into a cell for evaporation and conversion from random sugars to honey. Most sugar sources are a blend of many types of sugars, micro organisms, minerals and other substances. The blend dictate the colour, taste, rate of crystallization of the honey created from it.

Some of the natural continuances are actually harmful to the bee and its gut organisms.

Pollen is another food source that bee collect. It is collected to feed the larvae, Adult bees don't eat pollen. The forager collects the pollen and takes it back to the hive and deposits it in the cells around the brood. Each type of pollen provide different combinations of proteins that is consumed by the larvae and other organisms in the hive.

The quality and diversity of these two sources are crucial to the nutritional health of hive organisms. Architectural practices have a dramatic effect on the diversity,quality and contamination of bee pastures. Quality has been reduced by the miss conception by Agra biz that you feed the plant leading to the distinction of soil. Nectar and pollen produced by these plants don't have the required components. Rampped pesticide use had reduced the quantity and varieties of available food sources. Pesticides and GMO have also lead to the contamination of available food sources.

The amount and type of contamination will reflect in what problems the colony will manifest. CCD from Neonicotinoids primarily in pollen. Resistant AFB to GMO (the gen splice for ownership comes from a resistant soil bacteria). Neonicotinoids contaminated food feed to the larvae interferes with the formation of the gland that produces royal jelly. This accumulates over time leaving winter bees unable to feed the spring bees leading to CCD.

I you are in an area were natural or agra biz created shortages or contamination is an issue getting your bees through winter feeding is required. Feeding held back honey is the best but if contaminated it may kill your bees. You may even want to remove frames of honey in the brood chamber and feed granulated sugar syrup. Although bee do better on clean honey sugar can and do work. Your choice of glucose sources are HFCS or Granulated glucose. HFCS has problems with bees but shares the same problem as beet sugar. They are both GMO. Not that any GMO contamination will reach the bees supporting that source is not an option ethically. Cane sugar is the best available and is non GMO

Some believe that glucose from can and beets cannot be converted to honey. This is not the case. The problem is it's only one kind of sugar and contains no other components like natural sources. Making it an inferior food source to uncontaminated honey. It will however get your bees through to time when clean natural sources are available.

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Last Update, Leave blank if not wanted December 26, 2014
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