Coloured Honey II
The Beeholder, Autumn 2012
When I first started I asked myself the question “Where does the sugar syrup end up, as we all like to think of our honey as being pure?”.
I did an experiment with one of my hives, a single National brood box, by adding a blue food colouring to the winter feed. Come spring I supered in the normal way. I had only one drawn super for this hive, so when that super was filling up I placed a new super of foundation under the first super above the brood box, the next super, still foundation was again supered below the other two supers, above the brood box, and the final two supers went on top. I eventually ended up running this hive on brood and a half as it was a large colony.
Several interesting things showed up which changed the way I keep bees,
- I don't think the colouring affected the colony, they drew out four supers of foundation and filled five supers in total in the season.
- Most interesting, the blue coloured syrup made it into the first three supers. The first super I put on (ending up as the third super by the end of the season) having the strongest colouration, mainly in the middle of the super fading to the edges.
- The comb itself in the center of the three supers was blue in colour, what I don't know is weather or not the bees were producing blue comb or the wax absorbed the colouring.
- Controversial, maybe, but I have now come to the conclusion that at least some of the honey we produce will have a certain amount of sugar syrup in! Makes you think though.
Since then, I have bought from Thornes a pH tester which tells me roughly how pure my honey is as sugar and honey have a very different and measurable pH.
Also I now leave a full super on each hive for winter (removing the queen excluder), and feed syrup as little as possible. I just keep an extra hive to offset the honey left on for the bees.
BBKA FORUM ENZO 2010 27th march