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Feeding OSR honey ...

 
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:21 pm    Post subject: Feeding OSR honey ... Reply with quote

Seeing as there's been a lull in the number of postings - thought I'd tell you all about one of several experiments I'm running at the moment.

It concerns dealing with OSR Honey which, in the context of 'natural' beekeeping is hardly a 'natural' crop: OSR doesn't occur in nature in such heavy mono-crop concentrations - huge fields of the stuff, with precious little else to dilute it with - and of course the plant itself has been bred to produce a less acidic oil. Again, hardly 'natural'. But - we're stuck with it - and it's predicted to become an even more common sight throughout countrysides worldwide during the next decade or so.

Now unlike the folks over in the USA who are freezing their 'whatsits' off in record-breaking low temperatures, in Britain we're experiencing a very wet winter, but one which is also very warm. It's just 7 degrees in Lincolnshire today, but some of my girls have been flying for the second day in a row.

I have one hive which has become very low on stores as a result of this unseasonal warmth, and around Xmas-time I started thinking about how best to feed a bucket of OSR honey which I'd put by for emergency feeding purposes. The problem I faced was how best to feed this, for it had set as hard as rock. A knife dipped in boiling water would penetrate about 2" into the block, a spoon less than half an inch. This stuff is HARD.
Even if I had a honey-warming cabinet, it would only have set hard again when placed in the hive - unless I seeded & whipped it and so on ... which to be honest I can't be arsed to do. There had to be a much simpler way of feeding this stuff back.

Now if I've had some fructose powder handy, then I'd have experimented with adding a few percent of that, even though this would have been an expensive solution - but I hadn't, so I didn't, and so looked for an alternative solution (pun intentional) instead.

Bearing in mind that I wanted to add as little water to this honey as possible, my first experiment was to add some 2:1 syrup to the OSR-honey (about 20% syrup, by weight), which was then warmed gently until the OSR-honey dissolved. But - in just a couple of days it had set to the consistency of beef dripping. Sure, I could then have fed it back as one might feed fondant, but I decided to flash-pasteurise the honey instead. The result being a very clear, but still viscous liquid which I could then feed via insulated inverted jar feeders.

Because of it's viscosity, I've been using an inverted jar feeder with larger holes (2.0mm, rather than 1.0mm) and the bees have been consuming this honey mix at the rate of something like a pint a week. However, a few days ago I installed a second jar, which is also being taken at the same rate - from which I conclude that the uptake has been limited by the size of these feeding stations. So - when these jars are re-filled, I'll fit them with caps having at least twice the number of holes, as viscous honey does not form the same spreading meniscus across the face of the cap as is produced by 2:1 or 1:1 syrups.

With regard to the likely increase in humidity within the hive following winter feeding of such liquids, I have tilted the hive such that the crown boards (it's a long hive) will drain towards one side, and towards the back, where any condensate can collect and be removed without causing any disturbance. To date I have only had to remove about a tablespoonful of water, which resulted following one frosty night.

If this is of any interest to anyone, I'll keep you posted.

Colin
BBC
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CharlieBnoobee
Guard Bee


Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 97
Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please help this newby out: Whatever in the world is OSR honey? Animal (probably not)? Vegetable (probably)?, or Mineral (possibly—a BigMac w/ fries is certainly 95% mineral— mostly expanded polystyrene w/ artificial flavorings, saltings, etc.)? Can it be grown, or gotten or extracted this side of the Mighty,Big-SeaWater?
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OSR = Oil Seed Rape. Its the source of Cannola Oil.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love reading these posts that show the different conditions we all face to get the same outcome. Our winters here are short and not cold by your standards so its the heat here that is our problem.

Please keep us posted with your progress as we all learn something from everyone else not matter whether we actually need it or not.
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CharlieBnoobee
Guard Bee


Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 97
Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:19 am    Post subject: OSR honey and US equivalent Reply with quote

Oil Seed Rape— That explains alot. For you to be hanging onto a bucket of it clearly puts it (nearly) in the same price category of HFC —High Fructose Corn syrup— here. It's a by-product of corn ethanol manufacturing and a minimum order is something like a tank car load so you can understand why this stuff is beloved of the pollination operators each running and stuffing inventories of tens of 1,000s of hives with it. It's also stuffed into as many different varieties of "food" products as possible by Big Food, the food processing industry. And BF —along with Big Ag. and Big Pharma—is a component of a deadly fascist triad which has resulted in the epidemic health catastrophe of obesity in the US. And now we have to contend with Obamacare and its hand-in-glove partner, the burgeoning Big Health Insurance industry as well. I feel an off-topic political rant/rage coming on so I'll leave it at that. It's just that I so hate fascist socialism aka state/crony capitalism aka Progressivism aka Despotism.
Back to OSR, the irony here is that a pitiful little half kg. jar. of Breitsamer (German) rape flower honey costs, on sale, about US$7.00. Good Grief!. I wonder if it can be gotten in Canada, the expansive home of CanadianOil,LowAcid. Might be worth a trip (later, after the "Alberta Clippers" have finished doing their frigid thing) to find out. Consider the possibilities: The only competition in the supermarkets is an odd amber goo of mixed Chinese origins, sold in adorable little bear-shaped plastic squeezy bottles and deceitfully labeled "Honey". Honey my ass.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find OSR/rapeseed honey unpleasant to eat and avoid it if possible. luckily, it is not grown much around here ( S. Devon).

As to feeding it to bees, I would cut it into blocks and feed it like fondant. It is no harder than ivy honey, and they deal with that just fine.


You might want to bear in mind that most OSR seed is coated with the systemic neonicotinoid clothianidin before planting, which is another reason to avoid it IMO.
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
As to feeding it [OSR/rapeseed honey] to bees, I would cut it into blocks and feed it like fondant. It is no harder than ivy honey, and they deal with that just fine.


If a colony were to have ONLY ivy honey stores, then they'd probably starve during winter. Fortunately, colonies foraging in areas where ivy abounds invariably have a range of nectars available to them throughout the season.

It's my experience that OSR sets so hard, and should it be the principle source of nectar (which it is in my locality), then winter starvation becomes a very real possibility. I have lost several colonies (classic heads down, bums in the air) due to starvation, despite the hefting of those hives which had suggested that adequate stores were in place. I do not intent to lose any more colonies due to crystallised honey.

Here are a couple of comments from other sources, which support my viewpoint:

Quote:
The type of honey made by the bees is dependent on the types of foliage and flowers available to the bees. Crops such as oil seed rape (the bright yellow fields in the spring) produce large quantifies of honey that sets very hard, so hard even the bees could not use it in the winter [...]
http://www.bbka.org.uk/learn/general_information/honey


Quote:
I have taken off frames of solid stores - brick hard - and bees grabbing the syrup as soon as on - and at an out-apiary bees died noses in comb but solid store there - I am not prepared to take a chance. Easier to add syrup than get a new colony started.
http://www.beekeepingforum.co.uk/archive/index.php/t-4259.html



We will have to agree to disagree on this one, Phil.

Colin
BBC
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:09 pm    Post subject: Re: OSR honey and US equivalent Reply with quote

CharlieBnoobee wrote:
Oil Seed Rape— That explains alot. For you to be hanging onto a bucket of it clearly puts it (nearly) in the same price category of HFC —High Fructose Corn syrup— here.


It's not a question of money. My underlying motivation for posting was that as a result of China - and to a lesser extent, India - beginning to command more oil from the Middle East and gas from Russia, there will be a significant increase in the home production of oil for chemical feedstock in many already developed countries, and the obvious choice of crop to supply this oil is Oil Seed Rape. So we can predictably expect this crop to dominate our rural landscapes in the years to come - and I think it would be wise to begin to think about ways of coping with this unhappy state of affairs.

From a beekeeping point-of-view, Oil Seed Rape nectar is very much a mixed blessing: because of it's high glucose content, the bees absolutely adore it, and will ignore anything else in the vicinity of the crop whilst it is blooming.
But - certainly in Britain, because of our unpredictable weather - the crop is planted early in order for it to flower early, which is well before honeybee colonies have built up their workforce to take full advantage of the forthcoming feast. Honey-oriented beeks therefore artificially stimulate their colonies early in the year with dilute syrup and pollen in order to get them up to strength ahead of their natural timetable.

Although wild rape is a member of the brassica family and as such has been around for millenia - as one wild flower mixed in with dozens of others, historically it's nectar would have been well mixed and thus diluted. But when many hundreds of acres are mono-cropped with OSR, the honey produced from it's nectar rapidly turns rock-hard if not extracted within days of the cells being capped.
In this state, the honey is - for all intents and purposes - inaccesible to the bees as food, and although they can certainly gnaw away at the surface layer, it represents hard work for little reward.

For those conventional beeks who use foundation and wish to preserve their combs for re-use, should they get 'caught-out' with OSR honey having thus set rock-hard - one popular solution is to scarify the combs in order to unseal the cappings, then spray the combs with warm water in order to dilute the surface layer of the crystallised honey. This procedure is then repeated several times, typically for a week or so. As the bees re-locate this honey it becomes mixed-in with nectar from other sources, at which point the problem becomes solved.

For beekeepers who are not concerned with saving comb, there is less of a problem, in that the combs can simply be crushed and the honey warmed to become liquid.
For human consumption, there are well proven procedures for creating creamed OSR honey, and a quick Google for them is all that's necessary for that info. Smile

But - what I'm working on, is a simple and straightforward method of feeding this honey back to the bees, and at the moment it involves some dilution with 2:1 sugar syrup. Needless to say, on no account should such a honey mix be sold for human consumption, for although it remains safe to eat, such dilution contravenes the legal requirements for honey purity.

Colin
BBC
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Scout Bee


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Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit of an update.

This is the hive I was a tad concerned about the low level of stores - but as you can see, the girls are out enjoying a warm sunny day (in February !).
So - "so far so good". But it's still very early - so let's hope the weather stays kind ...



Colin
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