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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chemistry: The Secret to Crystal-Free 2:1 Bee Tea Sugar Syrup

Above is my crystallizing bee tea sugar syrup from the weekend. As in an earlier post, I read up on the chemistry of sugar saturation and changed my formula.

The bee tea below was made with the new formula:
  • 2 cups chamomile tea, steeped for 20 minutes
  • 8 cups of water
  • leaves from three or four sprigs of thyme
  • several shakes of coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 20 cups of sugar
Bring the water to a rolling boil while the tea is steeping. Add the tea, thyme, salt and lemon juice to the boiling water. Turn off the heat and stir in 20 cups of sugar. I stir in 4 cups at a time and stir until that fully dissolves before adding the next 4 cups.

The jars below have been sitting for three days in my cool-at-night kitchen and have not crystallized. I've moved the jars, shaken them up (one way that crystals sometimes begin to form) and no crystals have formed.

The addition of the lemon juice which should serve to break the sucrose into glucose and fructose (and thus stop crystals from forming) had two effects.  The syrup has not formed crystals.  The thyme leaves instead of floating suspended in the syrup have all sunk to the bottom.  You can see them in the photo below, lying on the bottom of the jars.

The addition of simply 1/2 tsp of lemon juice to this much syrup was enough to accomplish my goal.  Whoo Hoo!

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  1. The redesign looks great! I usually see your posts in Google Reader, but wanted to come by the blog and say THANK YOU! for posting your solution to the syrup. I'm excited to offer our bees something besides sugar water. I appreciate your help.

  2. I do something similar, but I also add a splash of apple cyder vinegar. That seems to help as well.

  3. I have never heard of adding herbs and tea to 2:1 syrup! I always have problems with my syrup crystallizing (http://gatorgracie.blogspot.com/2010/10/hungry-bees.html)so I can't wait to try this!

  4. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Lemon juice plus 1:1 sugar syrup
    (1:1 Volume/Volume)

    Dripping it over the bees (<50 ml with a syringe) should help against Varroa. (If no brood exists).

  5. As always, great information. I wounder, since chamomile tea has a relaxing, calming effect on people, would the bees also experience some relaxing effect by drinking the bee tea?

  6. What possible purpose would so much chamomile tea serve in the diet of bees? Why would one add such things, given that bees cannot digest them, and they'd be something the bees would have to void in their feces?

    The amounts of everything else except chamomile tea seem insignificant and thereby mostly harmless, and the salt and lemon juice are well-understood in beekeeping, but even those beekeepers caught up in the Steiner cult of "Biodynamic" beekeeping limit their use of chamomile tea to 2%, per Michael Weiler, the "biodynamic consultant" in the UK.


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