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My honey bees make nearly crystal clear honey. Any thoughts?

+1 vote
173 views
My honey bees make nearly crystal clear honey. Is this normal?
closed with the note: Not phrased in the form of a question that can be answered with a "best" answer.
asked Dec 18, 2014 in Honey by d wheeler egg (130 points)
closed Jan 12, 2015 by mojo
    
Do you have other beekeepers in the area that are feeding their bees?
as far as I know I am the only beekeeper within 2 miles. This colony was removed from the apts. that I work at. The honey that I confiscated from them at that time was nearly crystal clear as well. I was told that this colony was at least 2 years in this location. There where 9 combs in a wall cavity floor to ceiling. Prior to the removal I saw hundreds of bees sucking sap from the maple tree that I had cut a large branch off of. That was the first of June 2014. At the time of the last hive inspection late fall 2014 , The bees had 16 frames full of honey stored up for winter that apeared as clear as when the bees were ferral. The difference is now the bees are in my orchard about a mile from where I got them. Is it possible they have a source of sweet stuff like maybe hummingbird feeders that they are getting their "nectar" from?
My guess is that they are souring sugar water from somewhere near by. Bees can and will fly up to 5 miles for food and water. Are there any candy manufacturing plants near your apiary? A bakery?
this bee colony is located in the north central part of Indianapolis, so I guess they could be getting their "sweets" from commercial businesses in the area. My question then is, Is the "stuff " that the bees collected and put in their combs truly honey or is it just some knock off cheap bs that is only good for making bee turds? Your thoughts are welcome.
Debates exists over that very topic. Many beekeepers routinely feed their bees sugar syrup. I seen some even harvest perfectly clear honey. Obviously, they harvested the sugar syrup they fed to their bees. I wouldn't sell that harvest as honey to anyone. But...some do. Most honey has some color to it.
Alright now I am getting somewhere. Is it fair to say that unless the bees gather nectar solely from flowers and put it in their combs and cap it i.e. giving it their seal of approval, that it is not truly honey and it is something less than pure honey?  I thought that bees are the ultimate judge of what constitutes honey after all they are the ones that run the manufacture and production of honey. What the bees decide to use as base material for their for end product is up to their own quality control dept. I guess what I am trying to say is bees have the final say in what is really honey, after all their lives depend on it. If they cap it, its honey, right?
I did not say that if the bees cap it that it is definitely honey. I know that they cap their stores for winter, in order to survive to the spring. Particularly, they cap it when the moisture content reaches approximately 18%[1][2]. They cap it to seal additional moisture from getting back into the honey. Honey is hygroscopic[3], meaning it absorbs water from the air. If they do not cap it then all the effort they made to evaporate water was for nothing.


The North Carolina Beekeepers Association has a standard for what constitutes honey[4][5]. By that definition and from others from around the country it would seem that to be considered honey it must contain a majority percentage of pollen and/or sugars from the natural floral sources.

In most cases, bees cap ~18% moisture content syrup that has been fed to them by a human, if they a) have no other food sources available to them, and b) they wish to survive. If all of the bloom seasons are over and the beekeeper was especially intemperate with his harvesting, he will feed them. The bees will cap it as "honey" in order to keep it at ~18% and to eat through the winter and early spring.

Inferring that since it's capped it's honey is simply incorrect. Capped sugar water is no more honey than is me taking an ~18% sugar syrup mixture, adding 51% pollen of my choosing and putting it in jars to sell as honey.

Think about it. Few people consider their honey bought and paid for to be nothing more that sugar water at approximately ~18% moisture? It's exactly this reason that many states now have honey standards.

[1]:http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/2007/10/lesson-twelve-moisture-level-of-honey.html
[2]:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey#Honey_grading
[3]:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy
[4]:http://www.ncbeekeepers.org/honey/definition/
[5]:http://www.ncbeekeepers.org/honey/nc-honey-standard/
Good point. Believe me I am not trying to be argumentative. I am just trying to get a better understanding of what the expected  standards are concerning the end product. The bees make what they make depending on what they find or find desirable. I guess we have no control over them in that regard. I just want to speak intelligently to that individual who challenges the competency of these bees to deliver a good product. I would prefer education over embarrassment. So going back to your previous remarks, If it is not a certain color and does not have a certain % of "pollen" then its no more than "k" rations for the bees. If that feeds them through the winter, I defer to their survival. I think that bees are an amazing creature and I will husband them as long as I able. I will also not deny them the benefits of fallen fruit from the trees in my orchard even though the sugar they harvest is not from flowers and has no pollen(I call it bee crack). I enjoy the interaction of your experience and welcome your comments on this subject. I have questions on other subjects regarding beekeeping, but we have the rest of the winter to discuss them.   remember,"  A wise man will change his mind, where a fool never will." Thank you for time and thoughts on my questions.
I too have enjoyed this discussion. You are one of the more lively members to the site so far. Just an FYI since the original question wasn't phrased exactly as a question I'm going to close this thread. The purpose of a Q&A site is to have specific questions to specific issues and then have the "best" answer selected.

This is the primary reason that I conversed with you via comments to your question rather than supplying an answer.

If you would like to see this topic become part of the Q&A site I encourage you to rephrase it to something as "What is honey, exactly?" or "What qualifies as honey?". Something along those lines. Otherwise, I hope you've found this resource to be helpful in your endeavors to husband the mighty honeybee. They are truly one of the most amazing creatures on this planet.

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