Hello! I have been learning lots here on the forum - kudos to the more experienced beekeepers who take the time to teach us who are starting out!
I am a brand-new-never-had-bees-before newbie. I am starting with two hives, and the packages should be here mid-April. I would really like to avoid chemicals, opting instead for HBH and essential oils for mite control. I will feed the new bees as soon as they arrive with a 1:1 syrup, but I was wondering about supplementing with pollen or a pollen substitute. How do I know if that's necessary? How do I administer it? I live on Cape Cod and it is still stinkin' cold here, and we usually don't have much in the way of spring growth until end of April or early May.
There are a variety of opinions on feeding pollen. From my experiece, when there is natural pollen available the bees don't want my pollen anyway, and I may as well let them gather it. There is plenty of pollen right now from Maples and Elms and now, even early flowers are blooming here in Eastern Nebraska. The daffadils and crocuses are blooming.
If you decide to go all natural on mite control, be sure to monitor the results. Do a sugar roll or some drone comb to monitor your results. Be especially diligent in the fall. I have tried all natural and lost hives. It is very depressing. To go all natural, I would either go for small cell and/or Food Grade Mineral Oil (FGMO) in addition to the essential oils and the grease patties.
Small cell is a misnomer. It should be called "Natural Cell Size".
Thanks Michael! I am interested in learning more about the smaller cell size. I have just gotten all my hive stuff ready including frames of "regular" foundation, I even have supers ready to go, (I know it's way early!) Would I have to replace all that foundation in the deeps with the smaller cell foundation?
Yes you would, but it's much easier to do it now than after the bees are living on it.
For the details of the whys and wherefores of small cell you should read the expert, Dee Lusby it's on the POV section of this board. http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/index.htm
For a shorter description on regressing try:
But I'll just give you the short version of the rationale.
In the begining bees built their own combs whatever size they wanted. They varied in size, Drone comb is larger, honey storage comb is whatever size was handy and worker brood was about 4.84mm (measuring counting one wall)
In the late 1800's several experiments on bee size and foundation size proved that you could control the size of the bees by controling the size of foundation. Some people tried making it smaller to get more brood by having smaller cells and some tried bigger. In the early 1900's there were more experments with larger cell and eventually the foundation size was increased from 4.84 (the standard at the time) to 5.4mm (give or take a tenth of a mil. The idea was that bigger bees were better bees.
When Dee and Ed's bees were dying they looked at what we humans have done to interfere with the survival of bees. One of those things is the size of the foundation. Maybe bigger bees were more susceptable to tracheal mites? Maybe the larger cells made reproduction of varroa more prolific? When they regressed down to 4.9mm the problems went away. There are several other points that the Lusby's do, but I'll let you read that yourself.
The problem with regressing is that a 5.4mm bee (one raised in that size cell) can't build a 4.9mm cell. They don't fit inside the cell, so they can't build it. They can, and will build a 5.15mm cell (in my experience). And the generation of 5.15mm bees can build 4.9mm cells. So it takes at least two steps to get regressed back to natural size, and maybe three.
i like the pollen patties from mann lake,the bees can work them on rainy cold days
>>I will feed the new bees as soon as they arrive with a 1:1 syrup, but I was wondering about supplementing with pollen or a pollen substitute
angela, when stimulating brood rearing, a protien supplementation is critical, either in pattie or flour form. Especially during the early month of spring when the weather can be unsettled. I set out soyflour, to satisfy their foraging uges, and place a protien pattie on the hive, to allow continual supplementation during cool, rainy periods. I only place one pattie, but many beekeepers provide them with patties throughout most of the spring.
During the first 24-48 hours after the worker has emerged from its cell, it needs a rich protien food to full develop its wings and its flight muscels. I think alot of beekeepers don't realize the importance of providing an availiable source of protien to their bees when stimulating early brood rearing. I can make the difference between booming and moderate colonies.
angela, you might want to check to see if there is a beekeeping association in you area...great place for help and info...
Michael- thanks for the crash course in cell size. I was trying to tell my husband about it (and doing a lame job of it!) and he just wasn't buying it. I think he knew that I hadn't a clue! I will definitely check into it more. Only two weeks until the bees arrive to switch the brood foundation out or not. I will follow those links you gave and read more...
Ian and Hoosier, I had a sneaking suspicion that I should be feeding something other than syrup. Thanks for the info on the protein patties. I'll get going on that too. I think I'll be cooking for the bees more often than for my husband! Hopefully it will be worth it one day when I have some honey from my very own bees!
Thanks also to BHHF for the bee club idea. Actually, I'm already a member of the local one here. They had a bee school which I just completed and it was a great way to pass an otherwise boring winter here!
Only 14 days till I'll be a real beekeeper!
[This message has been edited by angela (edited March 30, 2003).]
www.honeybeeworld.com has a good recipe to follow, as well as a bunch of good stuff to read.