Beekeepers ‘steal’ honey from bees, and feed them instead on white sugar, which is bad for their health.

Again, the answer lies somewhere between yes and no.  Honey is a specialised food, made by bees for bees.  No getting away from that fact.  And so yes, in taking the honey from a beehive we are, in effect, ‘stealing’ the food that the bees have worked so hard to make for themselves.  43951043_2261743254112711_6183342941491167232_nBees need two main foods to survive, and both are collected from flowers; protein (in the form of pollen) and carbohydrate (in the form of sugar).  Honey is 82% sugar, but it also contains trace vitamins and minerals and mystery substances that science is unable to identify or replicate.  It really is magical stuff, and as a responsible beekeeper putting the welfare of my bees before my own sweet tooth, I personally choose to leave sufficient honey on the hive for the bees, taking only the surplus – if there is a surplus – for human use.  But of course, not everyone does it this way, and again it is commercial beekeepers who are most guilty of ‘stealing’ the entire honey harvest from bees that they may then destroy – or, if they do keep them going overwinter, feed on sugar as the cheaper alternative.  The beekeeping community is strongly divided over whether this does – or does not – harm the bees health.  I personally feel that it’s a bit of a ‘no brainer’.  Bees invest their entire life in making this special food, on which they rely for survival.  I myself believe that replacing this purpose-created food (full of bee-specific mystery micro-nutrients) with processed white sugar has got to have a negative impact on bee health.  It is a fact, however, that all beekeepers will at some point rely on sugar as a means of ensuring their bees have enough to eat in times of shortage.  Bad weather, extreme cold, attack by predators, disease and other disasters can leave a colony short of food; as can an increase in brood (baby bee) production; and the only way to overcome this is to provide additional sustenance,  in the form of sugar as carbohydrate.  This is done by giving syrup, fondant or bee-candy, which are made by dissolving and/or cooking sugar and water in variable combination.   My own syrup and candy recipes include the addition of herbs (lavender, thyme, rosemary) for medicinal effect, and I give these processed white sugar products only to supplement – not replace – the bees own honey.