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Effects of various sugar feeding choices on survival and tolerance of honey bee workers to low temperatures

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Beekeepers usually supply their colonies with alternatives to nectar (i.e. sugar feeding) during dearth periods of the year, especially cold times of winter. The objective of the study was to determine the best substances to feed bees to enhance the tolerance and survival of honey bees ( Apis mellifera L.) to low temperatures. Seven feeding choices were compared under laboratory conditions. These feeding choices were: sugar syrup, liquid honey, creamed honey, honey candy, sugar candy, honey jelly, and honey/sugarcane juice jelly. The results showed that the number of bees attracted to each feeding choice was influenced significantly by feeding type. Worker bees were attracted to all feeding choices and showed a high preference to creamed honey, honey jelly or honey/juice jelly. The tolerance of honey bees to low temperature was enhanced when bees were fed on creamed honey, sugar syrup or honey candy. The mean time at which 50% of bees were able to survive ranged from 3 days (unfed bees) to 15.8 days (honey candy group). The survival rate of worker bees was highest when they fed on honey candy, creamed honey or sugar candy. In light of this study, creamed honey or honey candy can be considered the best feeding choices for bee colonies during winter to enhance their survival and tolerance to low temperatures.
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Abstract
Beekeepers usually supply their colonies with alternatives to
nectar (i.e. sugar feeding) during dearth periods of the year, espe-
cially cold times of winter. The objective of the study was to deter-
mine the best substances to feed bees to enhance the tolerance and
survival of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) to low temperatures.
Seven feeding choices were compared under laboratory condi-
tions. These feeding choices were: sugar syrup, liquid honey,
creamed honey, honey candy, sugar candy, honey jelly, and
honey/sugarcane juice jelly. The results showed that the number of
bees attracted to each feeding choice was influenced significantly
by feeding type. Worker bees were attracted to all feeding choices
and showed a high preference to creamed honey, honey jelly or
honey/juice jelly. The tolerance of honey bees to low temperature
was enhanced when bees were fed on creamed honey, sugar syrup
or honey candy. The mean time at which 50% of bees were able to
survive ranged from 3 days (unfed bees) to 15.8 days (honey
candy group). The survival rate of worker bees was highest when
they fed on honey candy, creamed honey or sugar candy. In light
of this study, creamed honey or honey candy can be considered the
best feeding choices for bee colonies during winter to enhance
their survival and tolerance to low temperatures.
Introduction
Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies often have a large num-
ber of workers reaching 15,000 to 60,000 bees (Southwick &
Heldmaier, 1987). Such large numbers of bees require a large
amount of food to sustain their survival and development. Sufficient
nutrition can boost the development of healthy bee colonies
(Brodschneider & Crailsheim, 2010). Nectar, mainly as a source of
carbohydrates, is needed in large amounts by honey bee colonies.
Nectar is very important to honey bee workers as a source of energy
especially during winter where worker bees engage in strategies to
keep the brood temperature within a suitable range from 33 to 36°C
for colony survival, including warming of the brood caps superfi-
cially, or internally by heating bees (Kleinhenz et al., 2003). During
winter, high colony weight loss was reported by Seeley & Visscher
(1985) as an indication of high honey consumption during this crit-
ical period of the year. Low temperature during winter has been
considered as a cause of honey bee colony losses in some Arabian
countries (Al-Ghamdi et al., 2016). High colony losses have been
reported in regions with low mean temperatures in the USA (van
Engelsdorp et al., 2008). Colony losses generally occur during win-
ter. Such losses have been estimated to be 19% in Belgium during
2009/08 (Nguyen et al., 2010) and 22.5% in the USA during
2011/12 (Spleen et al., 2013). Starvation has been considered as one
reason behind colony losses from 6.0% to 17.8% during winter in
Austria (Brodschneider et al., 2010). The winter colony losses in
Germany were reported to be 3.8% to 15.2% in 2004/05 and
2005/06 (Genersch et al., 2010). Bee colonies suffer greatly from
shortage of nectar sources as well as unsuitable conditions for for-
aging during winter. Thus, beekeepers need to supply colonies with
alternatives to nectar. It is commonly known that the best alternative
to nectar is pure sucrose (Barker, 1977), but, searching for more
cost-effective alternatives with adequate nutritional value to honey
bees is needed.
Some feeding, such as heated or old honey is less suitable to
bees while acid-hydrolysed carbohydrates can be toxic to bees
(Bailey, 1966). There was no reported advantage of feeding high
fructose corn syrup or honey over sucrose syrup. Grape syrup, when
fed to bees, shortened survival and caused dysentery (Barker &
Lehner, 1978). Under field conditions, brood development was
increased in colonies fed on honey (Andelković et al., 2011). The
Correspondence: Hossam F. Abou-Shaara, Department of Plant
Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Damanhour University, Damanhour,
22516, Egypt.
E-mail: hossam.farag@agr.dmu.edu.eg
Key words: honey bees; Apis mellifera; sugar; feeding; cold; tolerance.
Acknowledgments: I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Boris Kondratieff
(Colorado State University, USA) for his careful reading of the manu-
script and for his valuable comments.
Conflict of interest: the author declares no potential conflict of interest.
Received for publication: 25 July 2016.
Revision received: 7 November 2016.
Accepted for publication: 3 Janaury 2017.
©Copyright H.F. Abou-Shaara, 2017
Licensee PAGEPress, Italy
Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200
doi:10.4081/jear.2017.6200
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution Noncommercial License (by-nc 4.0) which permits any
noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
[page 6] [Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200]
Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; volume 49:6200
ENTOMOLOGY
Effects of various sugar feeding choices on survival and tolerance of honey
bee workers to low temperatures
H.F. Abou-Shaara
Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Damanhour University, Egypt
Non-commercial use only
problems of liquid honey are in its ability to spread disease among
colonies and high viscosity. Abd El Hamid & Abou-Shaara (2016)
presented a simple method to produce creamed honey using pow-
dered glucose and a refrigerator. These authors found produced
creamed honey was attractive to honey bees and it was consumed
within 24 hours. Using creamed honey (especially that made from
low marketable honey choices) could be considered as a natural
alternative to commercial sugars. Sugarcane juice is relatively inex-
pensive if compared with table sugar (sucrose). According to
Carrillo et al. (2015), sugar syrup was better than sugarcane juice as
energy source for beeswax production. The main problem with juice
is rapid fermentation due to its high water content. Using juice in a
solid form may solve this problem and make it more effective.
Winter bees can better survive cold conditions if provided with
a suitable energy source (i.e. sugar feeding). The objective of the
study is to test different feeding choices to enhance the ability of
bees to survive under cold conditions (i.e. to boost their wintering
ability). Two forms of feeding choices were tested; liquid and
solid. The effects of feeding choices on the survival and tolerance
of honey bees to cold conditions were tested.
Materials and methods
Sugar feeding choices
In this study, seven choices of feeding (suitable sources for
winter feeding) were tested under laboratory conditions. Feeding
choices included the following.
I) Sugar syrup: was made by mixing table sugar with water (2:1,
w/w).
II) Liquid cotton honey: cotton honey is available to colonies dur-
ing autumn. This type of honey was selected because it has
low price, a source beekeepers can utilize to feed colonies.
III) Creamed cotton honey: it was produced by mixing 2.4%
(w/w) powdered glucose to liquid cotton honey and stored on
4°C until full crystallization following Abd ElHamid & Abou-
Shaara (2016), except honey was not heated.
IV) Cotton honey jelly: it was produced by adding 10 g of gelatin
dissolved in 100 mL of water to 200 g liquid honey. The mix-
ture was heated for 1 minute in water bath. Pectin was not
used as solidifying material because toxicity to honey bees
(Barker, 1977).
V) Honey/sugarcane juice jelly (abbreviated as honey/juice jelly)
was produced by adding 5 g of gelatin to a mixture of 100 mL
sugarcane juice and 100 g of cotton honey in water bath for 1
minute. Feeding choices 4 and 5 were produced based on
some preliminary experiments, but the mentioned amounts of
gelatin, honey and juice were only found to be suitable for
producing honey or honey/juice jelly. Also, preliminary stud-
ies showed that bees are able to absorb food from these choic-
es of jelly.
VI) Honey candy was prepared by saturating honey with pow-
dered sugar in a water bath.
VII) Sugar candy: water was saturated with powdered sugar ratio
(4 sugar : 1 water, w/w) in water bath.
Sampling and experimental cages
Hybrids of Carniolan honey bee colonies from an apiary locat-
ed at Damanhour City, Egypt were used. Honey bee workers of
approximately foraging age (older than 21 days) were collected
from the lateral combs of the colonies in small well ventilated plas-
tic jars. The bees were starved at room temperature for 12 hours
prior to each experiment (Wang et al., 2016). Then, the bees were
placed in a freezer for 4 minutes to immobilize them prior to dis-
tribution into experimental cages. The number of worker bees var-
ied according to the experiment. The experiments were performed
during spring 2016. The experimental cages were constructed
using petri dishes and small plastic sheets (Figure 1). The cage
diameter was 8.5 cm by 5 cm deep. The bottoms of cages were pro-
vided with 4 tightly fixed Eppendorf tubes to be filled with water
when necessary. According to Simpson (1964), dry sugar is diluted
by bees more than concentrated syrup or honey and generally food
containing less than 50% of sugar is not diluted by bees. Therefore,
each cage was provided with a water source.
Preference of honey bees to tested feeding choices
(Experiment 1)
Four cages were used in this experiment. In each cage, small
amounts (0.5 grams) of all feeding choices were placed in small
plastic plates. Ten bees were placed in each cage. The number of
bees attracted to each feeding choice was counted after 3, 6, 9, 12,
15 minutes and after 1, 4, 8, and 12 hours after placing the bees
into the cages. The number of bees attracted to each feeding choice
was then compared to detect preference of honey bees to specific
sugar feeding type.
Tolerance to low temperature (Experiment 2)
Per each feeding type, three cages equipped with 5 g of feeding
type and 1.5 ml of water were used in addition to three cages that
were provided only with water. Ten bees were placed in each cage
(3 cages/30 bees per treatment, total of 240 bees). The bees were
allowed to feed on the feeding for 12 hours then the cages were
placed in a refrigerator at 6±1°C. The number of surviving bees
(bees exhibiting movement) in each cage was recorded each minute.
Then, number of surviving bees per each minute was compared.
After all the bees in the cages of each treatment were motionless, the
cages were placed at room temperature (at 19±1°C). The time at
[Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200] [page 7]
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Figure 1. Description of cage parts used in the experiments.
Non-commercial use only
[page 8] [Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200]
which the bees started to recover (showed whole-body movement)
was recorded as well as the number of recovered bees after 10 and
15 minutes. The feeding type that caused highest survival rate was
then identified. The consumption rate (5 − consumed amount /
5×100) of each feeding type was also calculated.
Survival of honey bees (Experiment 3)
Three cages equipped with 10 g of feeding and supplied with
1.5 mL of water were used in this experiment per each feeding type
beside three cages supplied only with water. 15 workers were
placed in each cage (45 workers per treatment, total of 360 bees).
Each cage was also provided with a piece of wax comb (4×3 cm,
LxW). This wax piece was added to allow bees to stand on it. The
cages were left at room temperature (at about 20±1°C) during the
experiment. The cages were inspected daily and the number of sur-
viving bees was recorded until the death of all bees. The number of
surviving bees was compared among feeding choices to identify
the best feeding choice with respect to enhancing survival ability
of bees in cold air temperature conditions. The consumption rate
(10 − consumed amount / 10×100) of each feeding type was also
calculated.
Statistical analysis
All the experiments were of complete random design (CRD).
The independent factors for the first and second experiment were
feeding choices and experimental time while, for the third experi-
ment, only feeding choices was considered as an independent fac-
tor. Means and standard errors (S.E.) were calculated for each stud-
ied parameter. Then, one way or two-way ANOVA was performed,
and means were then compared using Duncan’s multiple range
test0.05. Pearson correlation coefficient at 5% level of significance
was also calculated to assess correlations between survival period
and percent of consumed food. The SAS (Version 9.1.3, SAS
Institute, NC, 2004) was used in the statistical analysis.
Results
Preference of honey bees to specific feeding choice
The number of bees attracted to each feeding type was influ-
enced significantly by feeding choices (P=0.0001<0.05, F=8.88) as
well as experimental time (P=0.0001<0.05, F=8.88). Also the inter-
action between feeding type and experimental time was significant
(P=0.0001<0.05, F=8.88) as shown by the Two-factor ANOVA.
After three minutes, bees attracted to all feeding choices but the
highest number of bees were at honey jelly, honey/juice jelly, and
creamed honey with no significant differences (P>0.05) as shown in
Figure 2. The number of bees decreased at all feeding choices by
time and stayed without feeding at 12 and 15 minutes (Figure 3).
After one hour, the high number of bees attracted to sugar candy was
significantly different (P<0.05) than all the other feeding choices
with % of 30, 37.5, 15, and 12.5 of the total (40 bees) at 1, 4, 8 and
12 hours, respectively. At 12 hours, bees attracted only to sugar
Article
Figure 2. Mean number of bees per cage (= number of bees/4) per
feeding type during the experiment. (A: Liquid honey, B: Honey
jelly, C: Sugar candy, D: Honey/juice jelly, E: Creamed honey, F:
Honey candy, G: Sugar syrup).
Figure 3. Preference experiment. A) Distribution of feeding plates within the cage, B) Bees during feeding, and C) Bees during non-feeding.
Non-commercial use only
candy and creamed honey. In the course of the experiment period,
sugar candy differed significantly than the other feeding choices and
had the highest mean with 1.25±0.30 bees.
Tolerance to low temperature
As indicated in Table 1, during the first 5 minutes at 6±1°C,
bees of each feeding choice showed 100% survival ability (appar-
ent moving within cages), without significant differences among
them. During the next 5 minutes, only bees fed on sugar syrup and
honey/juice jelly showed 100% survival ability followed by work-
ers fed on liquid honey, creamed honey, honey candy and sugar
candy, respectively. These feeding choices differed significantly
than workers fed on honey jelly and unfed bees. After 11 to 15
minutes, the highest survival was for workers fed on creamed
honey and sugar syrup followed by liquid honey without signifi-
cant differences among them. These feeding choices differed sig-
nificantly than the other feeding choices. The lowest survival abil-
ity was recorded to unfed bees. During the last four minutes, no
significant differences were found among surviving bees fed on
honey candy, creamed honey, sugar syrup, honey/juice jelly, and
sugar syrup while bees of all the other treatments stayed motion-
less. The correlation between survival ability and exposure time to
low temperature was negative (r=−0.84, P<0.0001).
As shown in Figure 4, it is apparent that bees were able to sur-
vive up to 19 minutes only when fed sugar syrup, creamed honey,
and honey candy. Bees survived up to 18 minutes on sugar candy
and honey/juice jelly, and up to 12, 15, and 16 minutes on no food,
honey jelly, and liquid honey, respectively. From these experi-
ments it is concluded that creamed honey, sugar syrup, and honey
candy are the best feeding alternatives to enhance bee survival
ability to cold air temperature conditions followed by honey/juice
jelly and sugar candy.
The bees fed on all feeding choices were able to recover
(whole body moving ability) within 2.05 minutes (Table 2). No
significant differences were found between feeding choices with
regard to recovery time but bees fed on sugar syrup showed slight-
ly faster recovery (1.50 minutes). Unfed bees were slower in their
recovery than fed individuals. After 10 and 15 minutes, no signifi-
cant differences were found among bees fed on different feeding
choices. Unfed bees had significantly less number of recovered
bees than fed ones. The consumption % ranged from 2.66 to
[Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200] [page 9]
Article
Table 1. Means of surviving bees ± standard error for each feeding choice at 6±1°C per each five minutes during the experiment (3 cages
and 10 bees per cage for each feeding choice).
Time* Feeding choices
(minutes) Liquid Honey Sugar Honey/juice Creamed Honey Sugar Without
honey jelly candy jelly honey candy syrup feeding
0 to 5 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.0A 10.0±0.0a 10.0±0.00a
6 to 10 9.8±0.1a 7.4±0.8b 9.0±0.4a 10.0±0.0a 9.7±0.1a 9.2±0.4A 10.0±0.0a 0.8±0.2c
11 to 15 4.4±0.8ab 0.6±0.2de 2.1±0.5cd 2.9±0.3bc 5.9±0.9a 3.4±0.5Bc 5.3±0.9a 0.1±0.1e
16 to 19 0.0±0.0b 0.0±0.0b 0.4±0.2ab 0.5±0.2ab 1.0±0.3a 1.1±0.4A 0.7±0.2ab 0.0±0.0b
*Means followed by the same letter in the same row are not significantly different according to Duncan’s multiple range test0.05.
Figure 4. Decreasing the percent of surviving bees during time for
different feeding choices after exposition to low temperature. (A:
Liquid honey, B: Honey jelly, C: Sugar candy, D: Honey/juice
jelly, E: Sugar syrup, F: Creamed honey, G: Honey candy, H: Bees
without feeding).
Table 2. The time at which bees started to recovery, means of recovered bees (showed moving ability) at 19±1°C after 10 and 15 minutes,
and the consumption % of each feeding choice at the end of the experiment. Values are ± standard error.
Feeding choice Start to recovery (minutes) After 10 minutes After 15 minutes Consumption %
Liquid honey 1.68±0.26ab 8.33±1.20a 8.66±1.33a 4.66±0.66cd
Honey jelly 1.55±0.33b 6.00±0.57a 7.33±0.33a 2.66±0.66d
Sugar candy 1.71±0.24ab 9.66±0.33a 9.66±0.33a 9.33±0.66ab
Honey candy 1.75±0.40ab 8.00±1.52a 8.00±1.52a 6.66±1.33bc
Honey/juice jelly 2.05±0.27ab 9.33±0.33a 9.33±0.33a 4.00±1.154cd
Creamed honey 1.99±0.20ab 8.66±1.33a 8.66±1.33a 8.66±1.33ab
Sugar syrup 1.50±0.27b 6.33±2.02a 7.66±1.45a 11.33±1.76a
Without feeding 2.58±0.01a 0.66±0.66b 1.66±0.33b -
*Means followed by the same letter in the same column are not significantly different according to Duncan’s multiple range test0.05.
Non-commercial use only
[page 10] [Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research 2017; 49:6200]
11.33%. Bees consumed 11.33, 9.33, and 8.66% of sugar syrup,
sugar candy, and creamed honey, respectively. These feeding
choices differed significantly than the rest of feeding choices. Also,
bees consumed insignificantly only 6.66, 4.66, 4, and 2.66% of
honey candy, liquid honey, honey/juice jelly and honey jelly,
respectively. The correlation between survival of bees to low tem-
perature and consumption % was weak (r=0.2, P<0.0001).
Survival of honey bees
The mean percent of surviving bees differed among test groups
(feeding treatments) as presented in Figure 5. Bees were able to
survive from five days (unfed bees) to 24 days (bees fed on sugar
candy). The impact of feeding choice on bee survival ability was
significantly different (df=7, F=17.59, P=0.0001<0.05). The
approximate ST50 (the mean time at which 50% of honey bees were
able to survive) ranged from three days (unfed bees) to 15.8 days
(honey candy group) while ST0(the mean time at which 0% of
bees were able to survive, i.e. 100% death of the workers) ranged
from 4.3 days (unfed bees) to 21.3 days (sugar candy group) as
presented in Table 3. The feeding choices can be arranged in
descending order according to ST50 as; honey candy, creamed
honey, sugar candy, liquid honey, and sugar syrup (without signif-
icant differences among them, P>0.05), followed by honey/juice
jelly, honey jelly and bees without feeding. Concerning ST0, only
honey jelly and unfed bees were less statistically significant than
the other feeding choices as indicated in Table 3.
The correlation between percent of consumed food and work-
ers survival period until 100% death was positive and significantly
different (r=0.60, P=0.0039<0.05). This indicates that longer sur-
vival until death is linked to the consumption of more food. From
Table 3 it is evident that bees consumed significantly more
amounts of sugar syrup and liquid honey than the other feeding
choices. Honey jelly was least preferred. Feeding choices in
descending order according to consumed % are sugar syrup, liquid
honey, honey candy, honey/juice jelly, creamed honey, sugar
candy, and finally honey jelly. During the experiment, bees were
observed to absorb nutrients from honey jelly without cutting it
into smaller fragments (Figure 6A). In the case of honey/juice jelly,
bees were able to absorb nutrients and to remove and store frag-
ments of this feeding choice in combs (Figure 6B and C).
Discussion
Preference of honey bees to specific feeding choice
During the first three minutes, bees were attracted to all feeding
choices with high preference to honey jelly, honey/juice jelly and
creamed honey. This indicates that all feeding choices are desirable
to starved bees and can be consumed without difficulty. During the
following six and nine minutes, no bees were attracted to honey jelly
or sugar syrup which indicates that these two feeding choices are not
highly attractive to replete bees. At twelve or fifteen minutes, the
bees seemed to be satiated and remained without feeding. After one
hour, the majority of bees tended to feed on sugar candy instead of
the other feeding choices. This may be explained by the high sweet-
ness of sucrose (sugar candy) comparable to other feeding choices.
According to Hough & Phadnis (1976), sucrose has the greatest
sweetness over other carbohydrates or even sucrose derivatives.
Therefore, it could be expected that sugar candy (a solid form of
Article
Figure 5. Decreasing mean % of surviving bees over time for dif-
ferent feeding choices (A: Sugar syrup, B: Liquid honey, C:
Creamed honey, D: Honey jelly, E: Honey/juice jelly, F: Honey
candy, G: Sugar candy, H: Bees without feed).
Table 3. Means ± standard error of time (days) at which 50% of bees were able to survive (ST50) and at which no bees were able to
survive (ST0), and consumption % of each feeding choice.
Liquid Honey Sugar Honey/juice Creamed Honey Sugar Without
honey jelly candy jelly honey candy syrup feeding
ST50 13.3±2.3ab 5.6±1.8c 13.3±0.3ab 10.6±0.8b 14.6±0.8ab 15.8±0.1a 11.8±1.9ab 3.0±0.5c
ST0 20.6±1.3a 10.6±0.3b 21.3±2.7a 18.3±2.3a 17.0±0.5a 21.0±1.5a 17.6±3.3a 4.3±0.3c
Consumption% 67.0±3.2ab 3.3±0.8d 32.3±0.8c 43.0±3.4c 35.0±3.6c 47.3±7.3bc 71.0±16.7a -
*Means followed by the same letter in the same row are not significantly different according to Duncan’s multiple range test0.05.
Figure 6. Worker bee is feeding on honey jelly (A). Worker bee is
feeding on honey/juice jelly (B). Workers were able to cut small
pieces of the honey/juice jelly and stored them in the wax cells
(jelly pieces are pointed out with white arrows) as shown in (C).
Non-commercial use only
sucrose) attracted the bees more than the other forms due to the pres-
ence of sucrose in their contents.
Tolerance to low temperature
It was apparent that feeding choices affected the ability of work-
er bees to tolerate low air temperatures. Honey bees require an ener-
gy source (i.e. honey or other alternative) to generate energy to cope
with cold conditions. The results indicated that creamed honey,
sugar syrup, honey candy or liquid honeys were better than other
tested feeding choices. All of these feeding choices contained honey
except sugar syrup, indicating that these feeding choices were more
suitable for use as an energy source by bee workers. Although
honey/juice jelly and sugar candy contains honey or sucrose they
exhibited moderate ability to enhance tolerance of bees to low tem-
perature over time. Another confirmation of the impact of feeding
form is honey jelly. Bees fed on this specific feeding choice may
have been unable to absorb sufficient nutrients as energy source due
to its solid form. The lowest survival ability was recorded for unfed
bees. The energy of these bees was expended quickly and the bees
became completely motionless within 12 minutes.
It was apparent that bees fed on tested feeding choices were
able to recover within 2.05 minutes. Unfed bees were slower in
their recovery than fed individuals and had fewer numbers of
recovered bees. This may be explained by the less energy available
in unfed bees. All bees fed on tested feeding choices were able to
generate sufficient energy to recover. The variations among bees in
their ability to survive under cold conditions could be in part linked
to the consumed percent of food. Consumption ranged from 2.66
to 11.33% with slightly higher consumption (from 8.66 to 11.33%)
of sugar syrup, sugar candy and creamed honey, respectively. Bees
fed on these feeding choices also had higher survival rates. In con-
trast, little consumption (from 2.66 to 6.66%) was recorded for
honey candy, liquid honey, honey/juice jelly, and honey jelly,
respectively. Bees fed on these feeding choices had lower survival
rates than those fed on creamed honey and sugar syrup. The corre-
lation between bees’ survival to low temperature and consumption
percentage was weak (r=20%). Thus, not only the consumed per-
cent of food but also the ability of bees to utilize that food as
source of energy can impact the tolerance of honey bees to low
temperature.
Survival of honey bees
The results indicated that bees were able to survive for various
time periods according to feeding choice. The better feeding choic-
es, however, without statistically significant differences among
them, were honey candy, creamed honey, sugar candy, liquid
honey, and sugar syrup. A mixture of honey and sugar (sucrose)
was most effective followed by honey only or sugar only in liquid
or solid form. On the contrary, Barker & Lehner (1978) who found
that caged bees were able to survive longer when they fed on
sucrose syrup than honey. In the present study, workers fed on
honey survived insignificantly longer than those fed on sugar
syrup. This could be explained by the variations in experiment
conditions. Bees fed on sugar syrup were able to survive for at
least 17.6 days. In a study by Abou-Shaara et al. (2012), hybrids of
Carniolan bees at foraging age fed on sugar syrup (50%) were able
to survive only 13.67 days. The survival period recorded by Abou-
Shaara et al. (2012) was less than the survival period of bees fed
on sugar syrup as determined in the present study. This may be
explained by the impact of temperature, in their study bees were
kept at 35°C while in the present study at about 20°C. Similarly,
Remolina et al. (2007) recorded 1.2 to 3.7 days survival for worker
bees exposed to 42°C until death. Basically, honey or sugar
(sucrose) was able to provide worker bees with sufficient energy
for a longer period of time than other offered feeding choices.
With respect to other tested feeding choices, honey/juice jelly
performed better than honey jelly. This could be explained by the
presence of sugarcane juice (source of sucrose) in honey/juice jelly
as an energy source. Also, sugarcane juice in this type of jelly may
increase the ability of worker bees to absorb nutrients from it over
honey jelly (which has high viscosity and no sugarcane juice).
Honey bees used in the experiments were able to cut fragments of
honey/juice jelly and stored them in combs. This reflected the abil-
ity of bees to utilize this feeding choice over honey jelly. Bees fed
on honey jelly were able to survive up to 6.3 days more than unfed
bees. Due to the individual variations among tested bees, ST0did
not differ significantly among tested feedings, except honey jelly
and unfed bees. It is known that hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is
toxic substance to honey bees (Brodschneider & Crailsheim,
2010). This substance is increased by heating honey for longer
times (e.g. Sahinler & Gul, 2005). The lowered longevity of work-
er bees fed on tested jellies cannot be attributed to the high HMF
level because the honey was only heated in water bath for only one
minute during jelly production. It is not expected that HMF levels
were increased substantially to cause adverse impacts on worker
bees tested. Providing bee colonies during cold air temperature
with honey candy or creamed honey is suggested especially as
these feeding choices showed the ability to enhance worker toler-
ance to cold temperatures conditions is worthy of being mentioned
that the nutritional status of the colonies can not only impact the
activity of bees but as well as their long-term behavioural develop-
ment (Schulz et al, 1998).
The form of the feeding type (either liquid or solid) impacted
the consumed amounts. It was clear the bees were able to consume
significantly more amounts of liquid feedings (i.e. honey or sugar
syrup). Consumption of solid feeds was correlated with the ability
of worker bees to absorb nutrients. This ability was high for honey
candy, honey/juice jelly, creamed honey, sugar candy, and finally
honey jelly, respectively. The consumption % was moderately cor-
related by 60% with survival period until 100% death. However,
the high consumption percent did not always indicate longer sur-
vival of workers. The utilization ability of feeding type as source
of energy appears important as well.
Conclusions
The tested sugar feeding choices indicated variations in attrac-
tiveness of starved bees and to enhance the survival of bees to low
air temperatures. Creamed honey, honey jelly or honey/juice jelly
had high attractiveness to honey bees during the onset of experi-
ments, but sugar candy attracted bees until the completion of
experiments. Creamed honey, sugar syrup, and honey candy
showed the highest ability to improve the tolerance of honey bees
to cold air temperatures. During cold periods providing bee
colonies with honey candy or creamed honey can be considered as
suitable energy source to boost the survival of bee colonies.
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Article
Non-commercial use only
... Therefore, beekeepers provide their colonies with sugar feeding (i.e. sugar syrup or sugar candy) (Abou-Shaara, 2017). The main aim of such artificial sugar feeding is to prevent the decline of bee colonies due to the absence of nectar sources. ...
... Moreover, sucrose has high sweetness (Hough and Phadnis, 1976). Fermentation can occur to liquid feeding unlike sugar candy, suggesting the benefits of candy over syrup (Abou-Shaara, 2017). Also, candy showed better results in enhancing survival of bees than liquid feeding (Abou-Shaara, 2017;Abou-Shaara et al., 2017). ...
... Fermentation can occur to liquid feeding unlike sugar candy, suggesting the benefits of candy over syrup (Abou-Shaara, 2017). Also, candy showed better results in enhancing survival of bees than liquid feeding (Abou-Shaara, 2017;Abou-Shaara et al., 2017). On the other side, there are some plant materials including mint, cinnamon, and chamomile that can be utilized to enhance bee health of bee colonies. ...
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The extent to which honeybees dilute solid sugar and sugar solutions was examined. In general the food containing 50% or more sugar was diluted, but not food containing less than this. The dry sugar used was diluted more than honey or concentrated syrup.
Article
Sucrose, or starch, hydrolysed with mineral or organic acids is toxic for honeybees, whereas sucrose hydrolysed with invertase is not. The best-known products of the action of acids on hexoses, 5-hydroxymethylfuraldehyde (HMF), laevulinic acid and formic acid were similarly toxic to bees when fed to them, but only if more concentrated than in acid-hydrolysed sucrose. Neither the acids used to hydrolyse the carbohydrates, nor the salts formed by neutralizing them, were toxic, so unknown products of acid hydrolysis must cause most of the harm to bees. Heated honey or old honey was less suitable for bees than fresh honey or sucrose; their suitability was inversely correlated with the concentration in them of HMF, but this was too small to cause the harm observed. Evidently substances that are more toxic than HMF must accumulate along with it in heated honey; these may be similar to those in acid-hydrolysed carbohydrates. Bees fed acid-hydrolysed carbohydrates developed ‘dysentery’ before they died, possibly because essential solutes and water were lost from the body into the rectum, the contents of which were doubled, but only slightly diluted.