Feeding Honeybees -What is “Ash Content”?

We recently received a question from Darryl that was prompted by one of our PerfectBee Snippets, “What to Feed Honeybees“. He wondered, “what exactly is ash content in sugar and/or honey?”

Ash content is used to measure the total amount of minerals present within a substance, especially after it has been refined. Dark honey and some types of sugar (like organic raw cane sugar) have a higher ash content than others. A study by the Sugar Processing Research Institute can be found here, it does a great job showing what they found when testing for ash content in various types of sugars. 

Sugars with a higher ash content are more difficult for honeybees to process, and if fed to honeybees, can cause dysentery and sometimes death. There is a reference at HoneyBee Suite with some interesting points about this here

If feeding dry sugar to honeybees, make sure that you know you’re using sugar with a low ash content, so your bees can digest it properly and convert it into much-needed energy.