Raw Sugar

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47
Te Horo
Experience
Hobbyist
Good day all, I recall hearing somewhere that over winter you can feed raw sugar to the colony, e.g sheet of paper on top of the frames with Raw sugar.
I am in Otaki, reasonably mild winter (uh oh there goes the curse) and will be feeding syrup.
If I can feed R. sugar do I feed it in conjunction with syrup or as a replacement?
I bought a bag a while back and would hate to waste it.

Any thoughts???
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,946
7,044
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
If you're in a position to provide them with syrup then use syrup & do some baking to use the raw. Bees have a hard enough time in winter as it is without you making the poor beggars cart water around the place to process the raw.
 
8,918
5,356
maungaturoto
Experience
Commercial
Good day all, I recall hearing somewhere that over winter you can feed raw sugar to the colony, e.g sheet of paper on top of the frames with Raw sugar.
I am in Otaki, reasonably mild winter (uh oh there goes the curse) and will be feeding syrup.
If I can feed R. sugar do I feed it in conjunction with syrup or as a replacement?
I bought a bag a while back and would hate to waste it.

Any thoughts???

first thing is that you shouldn't need to feed over winter, let alone plan to.
your wintering down should leave the bees with more than enough stores to last winter. they don't use much feed over winter (especially in colder areas), spring is the time you have to watch feed levels.
so if there is not enough stores, you should be feeding that syrup now and fill those frames up. that way they work the sugar when they are still active and still have high bee numbers. the feed is in the hive where they can get to it and the hive doesn't get disturbed in winter (which breaks the water seal).

dry/raw sugar is great for spring. i used to find that they preferred stores to raw sugar and raw sugar keeps well. quite often it would simply stay on the hive over the season without issue. they would ignore it during the flow.
the sugar in newspaper hack is rather old and poor (its often to little to late). if you have a feeder for syrup then most of them can be used for raw sugar. just make sure bees can get in to the sugar.
so i would just save the raw sugar and use it in spring when the stores get low.

imho the whole feed in winter thing really came about with the commercial guys doing huge increases in hive numbers by turning every hive into multiple nucs, then stimulating feeding the nucs with syrup and pollen supplement to get them up to hive size for spring.
i'll bet that practice has pretty much disappeared these days.
 
3,598
6,733
Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
I would never recommend feeding raw or white sugar dry to bees in winter and I was never keen on using it at any time.
We used to use it in spring many years ago with newspaper and a third box. You can only do it to strong hives and it often went wrong. Some of them wouldn't eat it and it would end up cascading through the brood nest next time you work the hive and even worse was when an early honey flow started and they filled up the box with honey and just left the big lump of sugar in the box.
White sugar is better for the bees than raw sugar. Bees overwinter best on stores as close to pure sugar as possible, it's not so important in New Zealand where it doesn't get that cold for so long but where winters are months long it is vital.You could feed them on liquid raw sugar but it won't be as good as white and it tends to ferment quicker.
 
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