Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feeding Pollen Patties, Part 2

I began feeding pollen patties" to my colonies near the middle of last of last month. I can already see a difference in the bee population more so than in previous years. Here is a picture of a colony about a month before I gave it a pollen patty.

Here is a picture of the same colony when the pollen patty was added. There are remnants of a sugar cake on the top bars if you were wondering.

I had to smoke the bees off of the top bars to get them off the tops so I could add the pollen patty.

I checked this colony about a month after adding the patty and discovered that the bees had consumed the patty and were dramatically building up the population. If you click on the picture you can see the bees packed in like sardines between the frames. The pollen patty is completely gone but you can still see what is left of the sugar cake on the top bars.

The bees are beginning to move into the upper deep as they are beginning to need more space. I am going to have to start making nucs from my stronger colonies really soon before they begin to feel the impulse to swarm.

The pictures of these frames of brood are pretty typical of most of my colonies now. These pictures were taken on March 14th. I had to shake some of the bees off to get a good look at the capped brood.

Here's a frame of brood before shaking any bees off. If you are wondering about the excessive burr comb on the bottom of the frames, that is what building your own bottom boards with a 1" rim will cause your bees to do.

The two frames pictured above are from a colony that I started last year with a daughter from the feral colony which was in the first few pictures. I started six colonies with feral daughters and they all overwintered well. The new colonies still need to build up. I gave them each a super of honey last fall before winter. When the population of the new colonies are strong enough I plan to take the supers, which should be full of brood, to start new colonies and a deep hive body back in it's place for the bees to build in. I have an aggressive plan for expanding my apiary in place this year and this why I am feeding the pollen patties.If I was not planning on expanding like I am I most likely would not be feeding the pollen patties. I have been adding additional vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to my pollen patties to help ensure the pollen patties contain the proper nutrition. If you would like to see some of the things that can be added to your pollen patties to make them more nutritional and beneficial to you bees visit MAAREC's website and read their article on Honey Bee Nutrition And Supplemental Feeding.

Since no pollen substitute is as good for bees as natural pollen I will not be giving them any more pollen patties this spring as they are bringing in large amounts of pollen. Pictured below is a frame with some bright yellow pollen the bees are bringing in. I am guessing they are getting this from the maple trees in the area as there are plenty of maples around. This is a frame from my weakest colony so you can imagine how much more the stronger colonies are bringing in.

Depending on your goals you may wish to implement feeding pollen patties as part of your beekeeping strategy. Just keep in mind that building up your bees before a good flow of nectar may also require you to feed you colonies syrup as an artificial nectar. I have read that it takes one frame of pollen and one frame of nectar to raise one frame of brood. If you fail to ensure your bees has the pollen or nectar you could cause them starve when stimulating them before a good nectar flow so be sure to monitor their progress early in the year.

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