Could the Addition of Bleach to Sugar Syrup for the Prevention of Black Mold be Remunerative for Beekeepers in the Northeast U.S.?

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $5,838.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Strickland Honey Farms LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Adam Strickland
Strickland Honey Farms LLC


  • Animals: bees
  • Animal Products: honey


  • Crop Production: beekeeping

    Proposal summary:

    Beekeepers feed their honey bee
    colonies sugar syrup to provide carbohydrate nutrition when the
    colonies are newly formed and when there are no natural sources
    of nutrition available to the bees.  The practice of
    supplemental feeding is becoming increasingly more common in the
    beekeeping industry because of pests and diseases, climate
    change, and pollinator habitat loss.  The most typical ratio
    of sugar syrup fed for the purpose of colony growth is 1 part
    sugar to 1 part water (1:1) by weight.  However, this ratio
    of sugar to water is conducive to microbial growth, and black
    mold can and will propagate inside of the sugar syrup feeding
    containers.  We propose to investigate whether or not this
    black mold is detrimental to the health of the colony, and
    whether or not the addition of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to
    sugar syrup, with the purpose of preventing black mold growth,
    will result in improved colony health and ultimately increase the
    remunerative value of beekeeping operations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    With this project we will
    evaluate the effects on colony performance of feeding sugar syrup
    with bleach, sugar syrup without bleach, and no supplemental
    sugar syrup at all.  We will compare:

    1. Colony population growth:
      compare total number of frames of brood between experimental
    2. Colony weight gain: compare
      weight gain between experimental groups
    3. Rate of consumption: compare
      consumption rates of sugar syrup between experimental
    4. Brood pattern: compare brood
      patterns between experimental groups
    5. Microbial growth: compare
      presence of black mold in feeder jars between experimental
    6. Remunitive advantage: calculate
      and compare cost of bleach with colony performance
    7. Nosema levels:  compare
      levels of
      experimental groups
    8. Winter Survival:  compare
      winter survival rates of colonies between experimental
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.