What a headache.
Maybe I’m wrong, but that looks like crystallised syrup to me.
I don’t harvest honey from my hives in the spring because I top off my bees in the fall with sugar syrup just to make sure they’ve got enough to get through winter. That means I can’t risk harvesting honey in the spring that’s mixed with syrup.
But I’m done with that. I only have eight colonies, but all of them got through the winter without even coming close to eating through all their honey stores, which happens more often than not. I gave them dry sugar too, but they all tossed it out except for one colony that may have consumed some of the sugar.
At any rate, I’m not topping up my colonies with “just in case” sugar syrup in the fall anymore. Topping up isn’t a bad practice for new beekeepers who are still figuring this stuff out, but I know what I’m doing now. I know what a hive full of honey looks like. I trust my judgement. I’m going with that for now on. (I don’t lift my hives to check the weight of their honey stores because I like my vertebrae just the way they are.)
I know crystallised syrup can be avoided by making sure the sugar in the syrup is fully dissolved before giving it to the bees. This usually involves adding hot or near-boiling water to the mixture. But I’m still done with it because syrup is such a headache no matter how I look at it.
Syrup has its place. I’m not an anti-syrup beekeeping zealot or anti-anything. I’m not going there. But I will say this: I detest everything to do with syrup — or sugar. Personally, it’s just not for me anymore. I will do everything I can to avoid it for now on. If that means not topping up my bees with syrup in the fall and only harvesting in the spring, good enough.
As for these frames full of crystallised syrup, I’ve got about about two medium supers full of the junk and I have to make sure they’re completely cleaned out before I can use them for honey supers. So I’m dumping the frames in one hive that I’m not harvesting honey from this year and I’m hoping the bees will clean out all the clumps of crystallised sugar. We’ll see.
Update: Way to go bees.
They cleaned out the crystallised syrup no problem.
I didn’t explain why I was concerned that they couldn’t do it. (I forget that people can’t read my mind.) A few years back, I tried feeding my bees in the winter by dumping dry sugar into the cells of some drawn comb and inserting the frames full of sugar. That experiment didn’t work out for me. The bees ate some of the sugar in the frames, but most of it hardened like concrete inside the cells and the bees wouldn’t or couldn’t clean it out. I thought the crystallised syrup might be the same — nearly two medium supers of frames that would be useless. But it wasn’t. I should have never doubted the bees. They can clean up just about anything.