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byFormica Liquid Feeder & Sunburst Ant Nectar Quality Test Results for Everyday Use (In Progress)


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#1 Online drtrmiller - Posted April 28 2019 - 7:08 AM

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byFormica is committed to producing the highest quality products and supporting our customers by researching the best way to use those products.

 

In an effort to produce a more authoritative guide for how frequently to replace Sunburst Ant Nectar, we are studying the effects of evaporation on the sugar content and pH of Sunburst Ant Nectar when used in byFormica liquid feeders.  While the results of these tests specifically pertain to Sunburst, they may also be a used as guidelines for how frequently to replace other sugar solutions used with byFormica liquid feeders.

 

When there is a substantial change to Sunburst or our liquid feeder design that impacts the results here, byFormica may repeat the study to better help our customers understand how frequently Sunburst should be replaced.

 

The study is currently being designed and undertaken, and we will update this page regularly to reflect the most recent results.  When the study is completed, we will then be able to present summary guidelines for how to best use Sunburst Ant Nectar with our various designs of liquid feeders.


Edited by drtrmiller, May 21 2019 - 4:15 AM.

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#2 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 1 2019 - 4:22 AM

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On your marks, get set, go!

 

We've started our comprehensive 6-group, 15-day study to better understand the effects of evaporation for the purpose of determining the optimal frequency for replacing Sunburst Ant Nectar and other sugar solutions when using byFormica liquid feeders.

 


Edited by drtrmiller, May 1 2019 - 11:04 AM.

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#3 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 1 2019 - 4:42 AM

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Woah. That is a lot of feeders!

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Aphaenogaster rudis

 

Aphaenogater tenneseenis                      Ant_Dude2908's Antkeeping Supply Shop                    Tennessee Anting Thread

 

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Camponotus subbarbatus

 

Camponotus chromaiodes

 

Crematogaster ashmeadi

 

 

 

Ants I've found (in TN) : Aphaenogaster rudis, Aphaenogaster tenneseenis, Brahcyponera chinesis, Camponotus subbarbatus, Camponotus chromaiodes, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Camponotus snellingi, Crematogaster ashmeadi, Crematogaster lineolata, Crematogaster cerasi, all Temnothorax spp., Solenopsis invicta, Solenopsis xyloni, Stigmatomma pallipes, all Strumigenys spp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#4 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 1 2019 - 4:28 PM

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The entries for the 12 hour mark have been updated in the original post!



As a control, I conducted a 2.5-hour open air experiment for 10 drops of Sunburst Ant Nectar placed in the refractometer well (see below).  The refractive index of the solution was recorded at the labeled intervals.  This indicates how much water has evaporated from the solution.  After 2.5 hours, the resulting evaporated syrup was a suboptimal feeding solution, and would not be very attractive to well-fed ants.

 


 

Analyzing the results of both the open air test and the various liquid feeder tests, it is already crystal clear that the longevity of the sugar solution is directly proportional to the amount dispensed.  This is the expected result.

 

Comparing the Open Air 10-drop test to the Micro Feeder 10-drop test, the Open Air test evaporated more in 1 hour than the byFormica Micro Feeder evaporated in 12 hours (see the red column labeled "60 minutes" in the Open Air table)!  It is incredible that the byFormica feeder is able to keep such a small amount of liquid relatively fresh for 12 times as long compared to dispensing in an open-air container.

 

The question remains, what is the optimal amount to dispense for small and large colonies in order to minimize maintenance while also providing relatively fresh and tasty sugar solution at all times?  It probably won't take the full duration of the study to come to a conclusion on this main point.


Edited by drtrmiller, May 2 2019 - 4:54 AM.

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#5 Offline Rstheant - Posted May 1 2019 - 6:00 PM

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On your marks, get set, go!
 
We've started our comprehensive 6-group, 15-day study to better understand the effects of evaporation for the purpose of determining the optimal frequency for replacing Sunburst Ant Nectar and other sugar solutions when using byFormica liquid feeders.
 


This looks really satisfying.

#6 Offline Serafine - Posted May 1 2019 - 10:08 PM

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I can confirm that liquids stay fine in the feeders for an eternity, especially in the larger ones. Diluted maple syrup (which is a tad more viscous than Sunburst) in the 1ml feeder stays fine for around 2 weeks at which point it turns into a sort of goo (the ants can still drink that but they don't really like it too much). Anything put into the 16ml feeder will basically stay liquid forever.


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#7 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 1 2019 - 10:17 PM

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I can confirm that liquids stay fine in the feeders for an eternity, especially in the larger ones. Diluted maple syrup (which is a tad more viscous than Sunburst) in the 1ml feeder stays fine for around 2 weeks at which point it turns into a sort of goo (the ants can still drink that but they don't really like it too much). Anything put into the 16ml feeder will basically stay liquid forever.

 

You can see even from the preliminary results, the new Mega Feeder I tested, which contains a smaller 10 mL vial compared to the 16 mL one you have, showed no measurable change to sugar content or pH after the first 12 hours of use.

 

The results were so perfect that I had to perform some additional tests after taking the measurements to ensure the measurements were accurate and the feeder was working properly.

This test will definitely affect the instructions I give people for how to use the feeders with sugar solutions.  I look forward to being able to say exactly when sugar solutions should be replaced based on the amount dispensed.


Edited by drtrmiller, May 1 2019 - 10:17 PM.


#8 Offline Serafine - Posted May 2 2019 - 2:25 AM

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Just don't forget that sugars tend to spoil after a while, unless you use inverted sugar syrup (which does spoil eventually but takes like forever to do so). Also, unless you've already put in in the instructions, I'd strongly recommend to tell people to not use honey water at temps of 28°C or higher in those feeders - the fermentation processes in honey water can go so fast at higher temperatures that 2-3 days is enough to push the liquid out of the feeder.


Edited by Serafine, May 2 2019 - 2:26 AM.

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#9 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 2 2019 - 4:36 AM

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Day 1 Results:
 
24 hours have elapsed since the start of the test, and some slightly unanticipated results have emerged, though it's too early to tell if they will hold throughout the course of testing.
 
From the open-air test, I know that in a normal environment where the sugar solution is exposed to air without constraint, the evaporation curve is perfectly linear until the sugar solution has reduced to a certain point.  In other words, water evaporates from the sugar solution at a consistent, unchanging rate.  I would expect the same to hold true in the liquid feeders, except that doesn't appear to be the case.
 
Take a look at the difference between "12 Hours" and "1 Day" for both Mini Liquid Feeders.  Given that both measurements were 12 hours apart, the expectation would be that "1 Day" Brix value would be double the "12 Hours" value, but it is less in both Mini Feeder tests.
 

 

One observational note is that after just 24 hours, when feeders containing a sugar solution are inverted, wavy distortion emanates from the base of the feeder down through the liquid.  I'll try to take a photo of this at some point, though it may be impossible.

This refractive phenomena is caused by a difference in density of the solution between the top and bottom of the glass vial which holds the liquid.  The liquid at the bottom of the vial has become significantly more dense than the liquid at the top.  This may be because all the air exposure occurs at the bottom, and without any form of agitation (unless ants are drinking the liquid, producing air bubbles to displace the consumed liquid), then the liquid at the bottom of the feeder will contain a higher sugar content compared to the vial contents as a whole.

As the liquid reduces into a syrup, it reaches a critical point where the concentration is so high, that reduction slows because the attractive force of the sugar to water is greater than the force needed to cause the water to change from a liquid to gaseous state.  One future test that is needed will be to determine the difference in density of the sugar solution between the top and bottom of the glass vial.  The vial would need to be inverted in such a way so as to minimize the amount of agitation, so that little mixing occurs. Then, a pipette could retrieve samples from various positions in the vial.

All this is to say that a good rule of thumb may be that for all sugar solutions, it is probably best to agitate them in the liquid feeder by inverting the feeder every couple days.  This way, the liquid at the base of the feeder remains at the optimal concentration and freshness.


Edited by drtrmiller, May 21 2019 - 4:15 AM.


#10 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted May 2 2019 - 5:10 AM

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Woah...

My journals:                                             My shop:                                                                        Tennessee Anting Thread:                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                         

Aphaenogaster rudis

 

Aphaenogater tenneseenis                      Ant_Dude2908's Antkeeping Supply Shop                    Tennessee Anting Thread

 

Brachyponera chinesis

 

Camponotus subbarbatus

 

Camponotus chromaiodes

 

Crematogaster ashmeadi

 

 

 

Ants I've found (in TN) : Aphaenogaster rudis, Aphaenogaster tenneseenis, Brahcyponera chinesis, Camponotus subbarbatus, Camponotus chromaiodes, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Camponotus snellingi, Crematogaster ashmeadi, Crematogaster lineolata, Crematogaster cerasi, all Temnothorax spp., Solenopsis invicta, Solenopsis xyloni, Stigmatomma pallipes, all Strumigenys spp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#11 Offline Serafine - Posted May 8 2019 - 2:15 AM

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Update?


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#12 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 8 2019 - 3:32 AM

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In light of the way the results are going, I've decided to extend the time frame for reporting to up to 45 days for some groups, and discontinue testing for other groups at various points.
 


Edited by drtrmiller, May 21 2019 - 4:15 AM.

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#13 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 11 2019 - 4:29 AM

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So it appears from day 5 to 10, the feeders evaporated at 50% of the rate compared to days 0 to 5.

 

This is not the expected result, so I will investigate it further at a later date, while continuing the study without modification to see if the trend continues.

I suspect the higher concentration of sugar at the base of the feeder is contributing to the decreased rate of evaporation that occurs over time.  I wonder if inverting the feeder every few days to more evenly distribute the contents will affect the results?



#14 Online drtrmiller - Posted May 21 2019 - 4:17 AM

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Updated. Pretty much going as expected, I guess.  Pretty amazed how little has evaporated from the new Mega feeders, comparatively.

For a future experiment, I'm considering drilling a small hole in the feeders before use and covering it with tape.  Then, I can use a needle or fine tipped pipette to extract liquid from the bottom to determine how much more concentrated the fluid is at the bottom, where exposure to air is greatest.


Edited by drtrmiller, May 21 2019 - 4:21 AM.





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