This is a dry year and a number of beeks are having to feed their bees before winter. I have discussed the acidity levels in natural hives before (3.8 to 4.5pH) and that sugar syrup raised this to the level in which diseases love to thrive (6pH). Due to the chemical arrangement of sugar in this form, the bees find it hard on their digestive system just like humans do. It weakens them. Where sugar is inverted (still sugar with sucrose and fructose but without the molecular bond), then the bees will find it more like a nectar or honey rather than a sugar like a cane syrup. The lemon assists to weaken the molecular bond.
Feeding is a last resort to keep the bees alive. So here is a method which is an adaptation of Bee Tea. It supports the bees and is more digestible. Only ever use white processed sugar for any form of sugar syrups or bee tea.
- I take two cups of white sugar and
- add a squeeze of half a lemon
- prepare leaves of chamomile and thyme (use organic teabags or fresh herbs)
- add a few grains of mineral salt
- add one or 1.5 cups of 'just off the boil' water. Allow to infuse for 3 or 4 minutes, pour into the sugar and stir.
The mixture will go cloudy at first however continue to stir until it becomes clear again. Allow to cool fully before putting it into a top feeder. Ensure no syrup is able to drop into the hive as dampness is the enemy of bees. Feeding bees in the open is not recommended as it may set up robbing bees and spread disease.
Give the bees a break between feeding to encourage them to continue to forage outside the hive.
And remember, don't eat the honey produced from feeding. It is very unhealthy for you.