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Invert syrup

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New Bee

Joined: 02 Apr 2015
Posts: 1
Location: Russia, Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:16 am    Post subject: Invert syrup Reply with quote


I'm living in Russia. Here many beekeepers think invert syrup is a good way to keep your bees healthy and strong (if you need to substitute honey with sugar syrup), but not many people want to bother themselves with making this invert syrup.
What's the situation like in your countries?
Do you think invert syrup is a good way to keep the bees strong and, therefore, not need to treat them with chemicals?
If interested, google this article on different syrups by Lithuanian Agricultural Institute: "The quality of syrups used for bee feeding before winter and their suitability for bee wintering".
Sorry, I can't give a link because I don't have 5 posts.
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome to the forum

I haven't voted because I feel that your poll is a little simplistic.

Unless there is an absolute emergency, I don't feed my bees.... they feed themselves. The idea that inverted syrup will make the bees healthy and strong and therefore not need treatment is a little naïve in my opinion.

I am treatment free for 6 years, have allowed my bees to over winter on their own honey and build up slowly with the nectar flow as the flowers release it. I am not losing colonies keeping bees like this and generate many swarms each year which I am able to give away.

Perhaps an "I don't feed my bees" option included in the poll would be helpful as this is a natural beekeeping site and I think there will be many people here who don't routinely feed.

Or if your meaning for the final option about feeding honey was actually letting them over winter on their own honey rather than "feeding" them honey (from whatever source), then perhaps you need to clarify that.

I appreciate that English is probably not your first language and therefore the difference between these two statements may not be obvious to you.

I have not had the opportunity to read the study to which you refer yet, so I cannot comment on it.


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Moderator Bee

Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ts ts ts. That study is in the Biobees library:


Inverted syrup is much better than selfmade sugar water. So if in emergency or if you have to feed for good wintering, syrup is better than sugar and water mix.

It has a lower pH, it is slightly acid. Which is like honey. It has multiple sugars (fructose, saccharose). Unlike sugar water mix, which only has saccharose. The high fructose content of the syrup prevents crystallisation and thus hardening of the feed. (Some other bee feed get hard like rock and cannot be eaten by the bees.)

The acidity prevents spoolage of the food, no microbes can grow in it. Unlike sugar water mix, which spoils very often, making the bees sick. Bowle disease...

Also sugar water mix can frost while sirup doesn't.

Honey is the number one bee food, but if there is no choice I use syrup.
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Scout Bee

Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 407
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might be worth pointing out that the natural food of the honey bee is nectar, and "Nectar chemistry is dominated by three simple sugars: the disaccharide sucrose and its component monosaccharides - fructose and glucose. All are derived from sucrose translocated in phloem sap or synthesized in the nectary." (NECTAR CHEMISTRY, Nicolson & Thornburg, pp.215 et seq.)

So - although sucrose is often viewed as being a 'bad' dietary product for the honey bee, it is a fundamental plant sugar and a basic constituent of nectar, and as such is a perfectly natural substance to feed, with or without inversion. And, as honey bees are quite capable of inverting sucrose themselves - and to a concentration that they themselves choose - I see very little advantage in my inverting it for them.

Indeed, there is some evidence that plain sucrose syrup is actually more desirable than inverted sucrose: "Honey bees cannot live on pollen alone; they need an additional source of sugar such as syrup or nectar. They live longest on syrup containing sucrose, but glucose and fructose are almost as good." (Some Carbohydrates Found in Pollen and Pollen Substitutes Are Toxic To Honey Bees. ROY J. BARKER, 1976)

Whether or not honey is better for bees than Tate & Lyle's finest depends on how long the colony is confined during winter. For periods of extended confinement, stores formed from sugar syrup are to be preferred as they may prevent fouling within the hive, with it's associated risk of disease.

Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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