I have no doubt that syrup made from refined sugar cannot be changed into honey, but not everyone agrees. Bees do indeed break down sugar (sucrose) into its component parts (fructose and glucose). But that enzymatic process does not make honey, just as adding invertase to sugar syrup does not make honey.
Although honey is mostly fructose and glucose, it is all the other stuff that gives honey its flavor, aroma, color, and nutritional benefits. Honey bees thrive on honey in part because of the nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, protein, flavonoids, minerals, and pollen that it contains. Yes, these are small in quantity, but they are vital, just as the vitamins and minerals in human food are vital to us.
At any rate, I thought I would let you read the rebuttal and decide for yourself. This comment arrived this week attached to a different post on the same subject, “What’s really in the bottle?” but it rebuts my most recent post “Is your honey cut with sugar syrup?” in the same way. I deleted references to other commenters for their privacy.
Honey Bee Suite
Here is the complete text
Rusty, while you may be attributed with having the patience of Job, your love of bees is more in question.
We highly discourage ANY supplemental sweetener other than PURE CANE sugar (not “pure sugar,” nor corn syrup in any form, because of the pesticides used on those plants, as well as genetic modifications to the plants (sugar beets and corn) used to produce other products.
We (as well as many beekeepers the world over) feed our bees sweetened water throughout the year, particularly during the early spring and autumn months, for the VERY simple reason that the BEES (not the beekeepers) need this sweetened water to LIVE.
The bees are well able to convert this PLANT sweetened water into HONEY, regardless of the pedantic arguments, and the hive utilizes this honey throughout the winter months, to survive and live.
Now, in regards to the “clear color” of honey, or non-nectar honey – this is a prime example of people over-thinking nature.
Clear honey (or bee-product), is simply honey that has not aged. Like fine wines, honey ages, due to the bacteria and enzymes in the bees’ pre-digestion. Honey that is in uncapped honeycomb cells has not been sufficiently dehydrated enough to be capped and age.
Once capped, the “bee-product” darkens over time. Our sugar-syrup-fed bee colonies produce HONEY from early spring, as soon as the worker bees can get out and find some sweet liquids to bring back to the hive. They then make honey until the cold temperatures force them to ball up and keep the queen warm over the winter when the cycle continues. During this period, the bees consume the honey stores they have produced since early spring.
Honeycomb that we have harvested in fall (we have top bar, not Langstroth hives) shows all shades of color, from pale and almost water clear to deep amber, almost brown. This is not due to the chemical makeup of the honey, be it nectar or sugar produced. This is due to the aging of the bee product itself, and uncapped honey cells that contain a higher water content. Please stop overthinking the color situation. Pure nectar honey would display the same thing.
If sugar water (from plants), did not make honey, the BEES would not be able to survive winter. The fact that humans harvest the food that these insects produce for their personal survival is secondary, regardless of the monetized commercialization of the product.
I, along with [deleted], would love to see the chemical breakdown of the supposed “bee product,” in comparison with “nectar honey,” as I suspect little to no difference, beyond the aforementioned minerals and protein content.
I would also love to see the survival rate of bees on the planet increase, not for the consumption of honey or “other bee product,” but for the survival of humans and plants. Any efforts that contribute to bee populations should be encouraged, not discouraged over the semantics and sources of the sweetened liquid bees consume to produce HONEY.
While I cannot speak for any large, commercial operations attempting to sell and profit from “non-plant sweetener-fed bee product” (and while there is “sugar-free honey,” this discussion is not about that), I can, as a private, small-scale, beekeeper, speak for the bees, in that sugar water (and ONLY pure cane sugar water) is FAR from being a money maker. Thirsty bees can drink gallons a day, and at a 1:1 ratio, a 50# bag of sugar only makes a little over 6 gallons of sugar water.
That sugar water then has to dehydrate and be capped by the bees and then age to become honey. Time is money, you know.
And not all of the honey produced can be harvested. Sufficient stores of sugar-water-produced honey must be left for the hive to consume over the winter.
Harvested honey then has to be processed, whether by centrifuge, as is the case for Langstroth hives, or by crushing the comb, for top bar hives. Labor is money. So, the snarky worry about profiteering from sugar-water-fed bees is utterly needless.
Bottom line, folks, if you are beekeeping in any form, it should, first and foremost be for the bees. Wasting your energies over stupid semantics, instead of focusing on the bees is not helping the cause.
Evil profiteers will always be evil. But looking for evil in every little thing, and pedantically castigating sugar water feeding as not being honey, or somehow contributing to the evil men do in the name of money is truly missing the forest for a chipped piece of bark on a very small tree.