Saturday, February 16, 2008

Making Pollen Patties

Why would someone want to feed their bees pollen patties? To build the population of the colonies of course. Beekeepers have different reasons for wanting an early spring build up. The reason I am doing it is so hopefully I'll be able to start some nucs sooner and have plenty of bees in each colony to do so with. Some beekeepers do it to build the colony population so they can demand top dollar on pollination contracts. Other beekeepers do it to have higher populations of bees in order to collect a greater surplus of honey. Some build up their bees to make packages or shook swarms from them. Whatever your reason be sure that you implement some preventive swarm management if you give your colonies stimulative feed unless you just like catching swarms.

Making pollen patties for yourself is fairly simple. You may choose to feed a store bought pollen substitute or or mix your own. I bought some pollen substitute to mix into patties instead of mixing a bunch of different ingredients and to keep things simple. When I made my pollen patties all I needed was pollen substitute and sugar to make into syrup. High fructose corn syrup can be substituted for sugar syrup. The amount that you need depends on how many colonies you plan on feeding.

After I open a bag of sugar, and in this case also pollen substitute, I like to store it in a five gallon bucket. The lids to the buckets have rubber o-rings and are airtight. I don't have to worry about the contents drawing moisture and becoming ruined.

I have only sixteen colonies that need patties on them so I'm trying to make only enough for each colony. After doing some math I decided that a gallon of 2:1 syrup mixed with some pollen sub should be ample. To get a gallon of 2:1 you need to stir in eight pounds of water in to two quarts of boiling water. Be sure to add some cream of tarter to invert the syrup. The pollen patties will retain their moisture longer when using inverted sugar syrup.

After making a gallon of 2:1 invert syrup I measured out approximately one gallon and a half of pollen substitute.

Then I added the syrup.

After adding the syrup I began mixing the syrup and pollen sub with a paint mixer attached to a drill.

I used the drill and mixer until the ingredients were well mixed. The mixture was too thick so I added another pint and a half of 2:1 syrup so the mixture would gain the the texture of dough.

The best way I could think of scoping the mixture from the pail in which it was mixed was with a drywall finishing knife. One pound of the mixture will make a sizable patty when flattened to fit between the frames within the brood chamber of a colony.

Before scooping out some of the mixture it best to already have a piece of waxed paper ready and waiting to receive the mixture.

After I flattened out the patties I weighed them and was pretty consistent in making each patty close to one pound. I adjusted the tare on the scale according to the weight of the plate being used.

Below is a picture of the last four patties I spread onto the waxed paper. The patty on the right is for a little four frame nuc that I'll be building up over the next few months.

I did rather well with my guesstamation of how much syrup and pollen substitue to use. I did not have much left over after making sixteen patties. What I had left over was used to make some heavier patties for the bigger colonies since they can got through them quicker. I hope this helps you if you are thinking of making some patties and haven't before. They are really easy to make if you have some time and the right ingredients and equipment. I'll be sure to let you know how good my bees build up between now and when I split them.

If you enjoyed the information that I have passed along in order to help you make your own pollen patties, please click on one of the Google sponsored advertisements to show your appreciation. It would be like Throwing a few cents into the "need a penny, take a penny" tray at the gas station, only that it isn't your pennies!!! Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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