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Raw or white sugar

I fed my nucs white sugar syrup when I first got them, as white sugar seemed to be in favor on the forum.
Has anyone fed raw sugar possibly because the fact that it is not bleached and less chemical treatments in its production? Any positives or negatives?

Hi Peter, I’ve only fed white sugar syrup but it was after reading this document and other information too. Worth a read I reckon as it seems to cover a reasonable amount on the topic.


Thanks for that Dan, a really good article with explanations that are easy to follow and it makes sense. I particularly like that it didn’t involve ‘rocket science’.


Peter, Just wondering, is there a reason that people do not feed the bees their own honey?


I do, especially if it was not fully ripe (water content >18%) when I extracted it.


Good, That is what I did the 1st honey harvest that I did. I kept 1/2 and let all the bees have the other half. They seemed to love it but everything I read, its always sugar water they feed them.

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People are very nervous about feeding honey to bees because of the risk of AFB. However, if it is honey from my own hives, I know the colonies are healthy, so I am happy to feed it back to them. :blush:

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Go up to the comment from Dan2 and read the link, it is well explained.
Regards Linda

[quote=“Dan2, post:2, topic:15491”]


I have noted that some years with particularly low rainfall result in very poor nectar resources and feeding sugar can sometimes be an option because there is not enough of the bees’ own honey for their requirements. In that respect it depends on where you are as to whether you get reliable rain I suppose. Very dry here last year for example.

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Sugar water is used to stimulate the bees and has a quicker effect than feeding them honey which goes into storage to be used later. The sugar water can be used when the bees are comb building or to bolster a hives numbers for example. It is ideal to feed the bees in a dearth.

I fed a couple of nucs raw sugar to prevent starvation last year. It didn’t seem to have any ill effects. In the ABC to XYZ of Bee Culture, they say to feed bees white sugar, brown sugar is unsatisfactory.

I think for long term feeding, white sugar is better than brown or raw sugar.

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I agree with you @Peter48 about the document. However, like humans, bees don’t always know what is healthiest for them. While they may prefer sucrose syrup in an experiment, and they may live longer according to some, they must be missing vital nutrients and vitamins.

I am sure that some humans will attribute their good health to a long life of eating ice cream or steak, even though that doesn’t really seem logical and correct, and bigger statistical experiments don’t support the opinion. :wink:

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Bearing in mind that raw sugar and brown sugar are not the same thing. Raw sugar is low level refined sugar .
Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added back. Now don’t ask me the why and chemistry of it as I don’t know.:slightly_smiling_face:

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I read somewhere that raw sugar gives bees dysentry. I fed my bees watered down honey once and it did give them the runs… Won’t do that again.

I try not to feed if I can- for several reasons: it can set off robbing, invite ants, and bees can drown. It seems best to not feed unless you have too.

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There are several ways to feed bees to avoid drownings. Like you say it’s best not to feed bees unless we have to. I guess live bees are way better than dead bees.

@busso, it might be the molasses in brown sugar that causes the dysentery that Jack is talking about.

Small amounts of feeding with raw sugar for a couple of days just to keep them alive until they start foraging probably wont do any harm, if that’s all there is in the house. If I had to go out to buy sugar to feed bees, I’d buy white sugar.

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Unrefined sugar has fibres in it which the bees find hard to digest so they get dysentery. Honey is best for bees. If winter bees are confined for many winter months( Northern Europe, say) white sugar( cane or beet) is best as it has no indigestible pollen husk in it that the bees need to void frequently
In the spring many beekeepers feed white sugar to supposedly stimulate the queen’s laying. The idea is that it fools the bees into thinking there is an early flow. This works only if there are adequate pollen stores or a good income. It’s protein that feeds hypopharyngeal glands. I have never considered bothering with concentration of sugar. I always feed concentrated syrup or invert. The trick if you don’t want the bees to store it is to give little and often. If you flood them with any syrup they will store it.

Hi Jeff,

Love it :heart_eyes:! I’m with you Jeff.! . Not sure :thinking: about sugars “Down Under” but if when we might find raw sugar it’s pricey ! So I’ll have to pass n say because of economics … n it’s really no big deal I care about for my ten hives … when I need to feed syrup up here in Puget Sound I do n will use the cheaper stuff (white sugar) … usually my bees :honeybee: so far make it most of the way thru 5 to 6 months of crappy gray cool damp winter on 60 to 80 lbs of liquid Gold. I also keep a couple special winter patties on top for Emergency food source as I don’t want liquid 1:1 syrup on until the temps mild up ! (About 50 dgs F or a bit more) . We have enough moisture issues without introducing more too early in the late winter or early Spring.

I’ll leave everyone to their papers n studies on this one … some studies are really nice n worth a peek n I read with interest but as for this old syrup feed I’m using what works best for me ! Cheep n works ! Plus the white stuff has done me okay since 1957 as a teenager the first 10 yrs I worked bees.

Much more concerned about mites, wintering over, moisture control, keeping my close neighbors happy, n promoting beekeeping to the next generation.

Cheers n blessings,


Thank you Gerald :slight_smile: Cheers & blessings to you to.

I think our “raw” honey must be different to your “raw” honey. Ours is pretty much the same price as white sugar, it just has a very light amber color. Actually I made a 2:1 syrup with it & it looked just like honey. I could have imagined unscrupulous operators blending it with honey. They probably do.

Over here we can buy white, raw, brown & dark brown sugar. Plus all of the overpriced specialty sugars. Demerara sugar for example.


The experiment I have done with ice cream over a 70 year period seems to disagree with the popular statistic. it seems much of my shopping is for ice cream and, hey, someone has to eat it, and it contains sucrose. just to stay on the thread :grinning:

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I think if we are honest we all feed our bees honey one way or another. I put stickies in a box as a super for the bees to clean them up and any buckets etc I lay near the weakest hive but all the hives soon know about the treat, and I have never had an episode of robbing or even an argument over the spoils