How to feed crystallized honey

Over the last few years, I’ve learned many interesting tidbits from Phillip over at Mudsongs.org. Several weeks ago he wrote something about feeding crystallized honey back to his bees by just leaving it in the jar.

Why did I never think of this? I usually try to do something to it, which is really silly since I’m the one always preaching “do less, not more.” I’ve tried mixing crystallized honey with water and putting it in feeders; I’ve tried mixing it with pollen substitute and making patties. Each of these projects was messier than the one before.

So Phillip comes along and says to just put the whole jar in the hive. It sounded brilliant to me. Since I have a newly captured swarm I’m trying to nurse along, I rummaged around until I found a pint mason jar full of crystallized honey. It was the rock-hard type. You would need a chisel to get it out, so I was doubtful.

Nevertheless, I got a shallow super and put it on top of an inner cover. I placed the jar on its side and closed up the hive. Two days later, I went back to see if they were making any progress.

I have to say, the jar was so clean I almost forgot to wash it. I could have stuck it back in the cupboard and no one would know. In two days those bees ate every molecule of honey and polished the jar as well.

So now I’m a convert. I rarely have crystallized honey, but now I can’t wait to try this again. Thanks, Phillip. Very efficient!

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

nick holmes
Reply

I had honey crystallised on the comb. Faced with not being able to extract (I built a warming cabinet since to solve that) I didn’t want to waste it. So I put it in the super interleaved with empty comb which I dunked in water first. They cleaned up the comb and took the honey down for winter stores.

Phillip
Reply

After last year, which wasn’t my most enjoyable year of beekeeping, simplicity and efficiency is the name of the game for me. I’m glad it worked out for you too. I eventually placed all of my leftover honey, most of it at least partially crystallized, into this year’s hives. The bees ate it up in no time. Honey bees love honey, I guess.

Aram
Reply

My experience has been the opposite. Given a frame with crystalized honey, they sucked the liquid honey and let the crystals drop on the floor or carried out of the hive. So I ended up mixing the honey crystals with water and feeding it to my nucs with virgin queens. Virgins are encouraged by nectar flow to fly out to mate. So it worked out, but they did not like the crystals at all.

Utherkbn
Reply

There is nothing wrong with crystallized honey. If you want to feed it to your bees great. But it’s perfectly good honey, just warm it up by putting the crystallized jar of honey (with the lid still on it) in a pan of water and heating the water on very low heat, no boiling preferably, about 110°F. Boiling kills the good enzymes in the honey.

Also you can just use the crystallized honey and spread it with a butter knife on your toast. It doesn’t drip that way.

Rusty
Reply

I absolutely agree, but some people think the bees won’t take crystallized honey, which just isn’t true.

Phillip
Reply

I have nothing against crystallized honey. I know it’s still good honey. I like partially-crystallized honey the most because it’s easy to spread. But I had so much left over from last year, I figured the easiest way to clean up the bottles was give them to the bees. I was right.

Phillip
Reply

If the bees didn’t eat the crystallized honey, perhaps they didn’t have access to enough water to liquefy the honey.

I live in the middle of the ocean where there’s no shortage of rain, but maybe crystallized honey doesn’t work as well in a dryer climate. Maybe.

Rusty
Reply

I also think it has something to do with the size of the crystals. Mine was really fine, but I’ve seen some honey go into big crystals like rock salt instead of like sand.

Jeff
Reply

I have been putting in frames of crystilized honey above the inner cover with a super on top. Every day I give the frames a few quirts of water to provide moisture to allow the bees to dissolve the honey.

I get two benefits; filling up the brood boxes faster and empty frames from this years splits. It’s a win-win in my opinion.

Rusty
Reply

Jeff,

The squirt of honey is a good idea. I love the idea that the bees clean up so well and nothing is wasted.

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