Leo Sharashkin wrote:Angelina Gianna,
There is actually a lot of research on what sugar-feeding does to the bees - not only it affects the current generation, but the future generation of bees as well (the bees that were still larvae when the hive was fed sugar). Leading beekeepers as far back as Georges de Layens (late 19th century, author of Keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives) have strongly been advising against sugar feeding. Thankfully, though, quite a few beekeepers do avoid feeding their bees sugar - and you may want to read Keeping Bees with a Smile: Principles and Practice of Natural Beekeeping as a powerful antidote to what they told you in the conventional beekeeping class. Most beekeepers, though, will continue to feed their bees sugar (sugar syrup is sold in bee catalogs by the TANKER LOAD) - this is because honey is expensive, and sugar is cheap. If you buy sugar syrup at 50 cents a pound (and feed your bees a 5-gallon bucket of that) and sell your "local honey" at the farmer's market for $10/lb, you can do the math. That being the case it's actually not surprising (albeit disturbing) that more than 40% of honeys entered in the official 2019 competition for the Best Honey in the World did not pass the lab test (that checked, among other things, for sugar residue in honey). If a large proportion of the "best" honeys contain sugar, than what's about "the rest of us"? By the way, another big issue is pesticide contamination of honey (from agriculture AND from what beekeepers put in their hives themselves). One study found RoundUp in more than 40% of samples of CERTIFIED ORGANIC honey sold in the US. I wish I could get you some of the real honey from bees that are never fed sugar and kept in a remote wilderness location away from agrochemicals - but I'm completely sold out of my 2019 crop.
Michael Cox wrote:The practices you describe - removing all honey, and extensive feeding of sugar syrup - are predominantly used by large commercial beekeeping operations. Small scale beekeepers sometimes emulate that, but in my experience it is less common.
The big commercial operations are all about maximising profit. Syrup feeding but maximised honey profits and also accelerated build up of colony size in spring, which helps beekeepers fulfil very profitable pollination contracts. These pollination contacts are the big driving force towards harmful practices:
Bees are trucked long distances, and diseases are carried with them
Bees are raised in warm climates, then shipped and sold in cool climates. Bees are unable to adapt to local conditions, so struggle to thrive in cold climates.
Industrial pollination exposes bees to high pesticide levels
For all of these reasons I encourage consumers to buy honey from local small scale beekeepers, and to shun almond products. The almond industry is the largest driving force of profit in pollination, and distorts the practices of commercial beekeepers.
Max Menchaca wrote:What I've learned regarding not feeding honey to bees is that it could have viruses or spores of pathogens that are harmless to humans (so are left in the honey), but NOT to the bees. Unless you know the source of the honey and can confirm its quality, you are not "supposed" to feed honey to the bees.
I would of course like to explore this more, because I would love to also avoid sugar to the bees.
John C Daley wrote:Its my understanding a lot of bees are being killed by a mite which has crept around the world because of sloppy border controls.
I have just forgotten its name.
Australia is one of the few places without it.
But a bigger issue is false honey from China.
They advertise they can supply false honey which will pas any test taken to check what it is.
I believe its synthetic.
Tonnes of it coming into Australia because its very hard to detect.
Leigh Tate wrote:I think what to feed bees is a very important topic. I would say part of the honey greed problem is the paradigm we've been taught to believe in. Even those of us who recognize that Nature's way is the best way, have still been trained in the "bigger is better, more is better" cultural model. Because of that, we are continually pushing the land and our critters toward better production. We offer amendments and supplements, and selectively breed toward that end. I think it's especially challenging for those trying to make their livings from farming, permaculture, market gardening, homesteading, etc. The need to succeed is driven by being able to afford an expected lifestyle.
The only answer (I can see) is learning how to live with less. Instead of trying to figure out how to produce more, I think it would make more sense to understand the natural production limits of what we are working with and learning to be content with that. I'm not saying I've achieved this, but it's the direction I'm working in, and I'm trying to adjust my expectations accordingly.
AngelinaGianna Maffeo wrote:
Michael I find the moving of bees from state to state baffling. Why not simply keep hives in the California orchards? And stop using pesticides!! Surely the beekeepers could find another way to make more money at home. Maybe they could form a group locally and buy or rent fields to plant anything bees need. Lavenders, mints, sage and sunflowers, and marigolds all require little work and can be sold. Just seems to be a better plan then burning fossil fuel, stressing the bees, exposing them to diseases and maybe getting the hives stolen. The price of local honey has sky rocked, and rightly so. I'm going to stop now before I get on my soapbox about most the country's produce being grown in California. Thanks for chiming in.