A couple of posts back someone said that they'd rather follow scientific data than suggestions. I for one would rather follow Kieths' successrate based suggestions or example than I would academically produced scientific papers. They have their place.
Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett
Beekeeping is as much an art as it is a science. And in some cases it is more of an art than a science, me thinks. So show me a succesful beekeeper and let me learn from him or her. That, imo, would be worth more than I can pay.
One must consider all sources of information when trying to find answers to management problems. I like to see field research studies. But if it is based on data from 5 or 10 hives, well you cannot accept that as too reliable. And I do not accept results of studies that contradict my real life experience working bees for a living.
a few notes to be clear (as things have been moved around a bit):
i'm not saying that no one should use feed...i understand the economic reasons for doing so...and certainly there are positive results for early pollination, honey production, nuc/package production...but are these diets we use perfect?
with that said, i can't think of a food that an animal produces for its young that we can replicate or have improved upon.
artifical milk for humans, cows, or any other mammal is not equivilant to the real thing.
i really doubt that critters in a blender with a bit of acid is as good for young birds as the regurgitated stuff their parents feed them (that will undoubtedly contain enzymes and microbes from the parents gut). (i have cut up frogs and fed them to young hawks who were left motherless when their nest was cut down by loggers...certainly it was better than letting them starve).
if we want to make the best pollen substitue, i think it's important to recognize and study both the composition of what the bees have evolved collecting/fermenting and understand the processes involved. this was my only reason for entering into this thread.
there are lots of published (and i'm sure unpublished) recipies for "beebread" that include adding acids and inocculating with various bacterial strains. these methods are a simplification of what the bees (and the microbes) would do if left to their own devices, and it seems (to me at least) important to understand this, and to look deeper.
Is there a way you could post those recipes or provide a link? That would be great to know which acids and bacterial strains people have already experimented with. Thank you.
Originally Posted by deknow
I'm away from home at the moment, and am on a dialup...so I really cannot google around for you. "Fat bee, skinny bee" is a document from the austrailian rural agriculture (or somesuch) that has one recipie.
Originally Posted by Matt Beekman
but this is all (i think) missing the point.
pollen begins to ferment as the bees gather it, both from microbes that are present in the pollen, and from microbes added by the bees.
do people use irradiated pollen to make their substitutes? i think so in many cases. does this affect the fermentation? probably.
but the real issue (in my mind) is that each stage of fermentation gradually makes the beebread more acidic. each stage produces nutrients for the bees, and each stage eventually creates an environment that inhibits the microbes that make up that stage (like wine yeasts increasing the alcohol level until the wine yeasts cannot survive because there is too much alcohol in their environment).
as i said before, there appear to be 4 major stages of fermentation starting with molds, yeasts, fungi, and bacteria. what metabolites do these microbes produce besides acid? are they importatnt for bee nutrition? if we shortcut past some of these stages by adding acid (as formic acid is added to hay before it's wrapped in plastic to prevent "rotting" and promote "silage"), are we preventing some of these nutrients from being formed?
this "progressive fermentation" appears (at least from here) to be important. we cannot just eliminate the first few stages, add acid, innoculate with lactobacillus or LAB, and assume that it has all the nutrition, enzymes, or other factors that the bees need for long term health.
one does not make real pickles or saurkraut by adding acid to cucumbers or cabbage...the ones that come from the refrigerated section are far better than those "vinegar pickles" that are vaccuum packed on the shelf....the live cultures are essential to the texture, "tang", and overall feel of real pickles...there is no substitute if you've ever had them.
again, this is an area of bee biology that is grossly understudied, and generally oversimplified.
i beleive there was something posted on one of the bee lists recently where a pollen substitute (which was developed in arizona) was only sustaining 2 generations of brood rearing in greenhouse pollination. the addition of a small amount of beebread brought things right back on track. i'm certainly not equating what anyone who has posted here uses for pollen sub/supliment to the tucson bee diet (for which much of the research apparantly went towards making it water soluable), but clearly we don't know everything that is necessary for pollen sub that is equivelant to the real thing.
i often use this example. if you want to grow a tomato hydroponically (in water, with all necessary nutrients added to the water), you could spend years determining what should go in the water...and the tomato would still likely not taste fantastic (if good at all). you don't need to know what is in some rich soil and a handful of compost, but you can grow a great tomato in it without knowing all the details.
i hope this was helpful/clear.