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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Sacramento, CA
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    34

    Default Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Is it worth feeding pollen substitute when fresh and natural pollen is already available in the nature? I have in mind brood rearing and a boost for the bees before Spring flow starts. Michael Bush says that feeding dry sugar alone could result in moderate brood rearing. What California beekeepers would say given our specific locality? After all, they may not even eat both sugar and pollen substitute when real pollen and nectar are already available. I know, so many beekeepers would recommend artificial pollen patties and syrup. My colonies were left moderate stores of honey in Fall. Should I worry about anything? How else would one give them a boost in anticipation of Spring flow? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    321

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    More bees can make more honey and can make more bees and can make more splits and swarms. You could also end up with a marginal flow and not get return on your investments. Bees have to fly to get pollen to bring back. It is all energy expenditure. Giving them the supplement reduces work they need to do to raise brood. We have plenty of pollen in WA state, but mine eat paddies all the time, but in different quantity. Feed them enough paddy to last only a week, then add more so it does not spoil. Use that as a rule of thumb. Randy Oliver's series on Fat bees might help you make an informed decision too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,220

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    How big are your clusters right now?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stockton, CA
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    425

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    I would do it for the reasons your wanting. Head to Mannlake in Woodland or better yet go talk to the folks at Sacramento Beekeeping and get a small container of dry pollen sub and see what your bees do with it. You must keep it dry! Be ready to have extra supers or deeps, your making more bees and their going to wanna work or swarm.

    I'll never feed pollen patties again as long as I'm in CA. I'm sure it's great in colder wetter climates where the bees can't forage early but after seeing what those nasty hive beetles can do to a good frame of honey its just my preference to keep it dry.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    1,080

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Bees in California wildlands have an especially limited season of growth. You want the bees to be up and rolling when the main spring flow hits, because the late spring is likely drought again. That means none of the summer Toyon, Star Thistle, Coffeeberry nectar. If you want honey or increase, you will need to make it between March and May. That means your February hives need to be ready.

    I put sub on the the 2nd week of December. I have hives with 3-4 frames of brood and 8 frames of bees. You need the sub to enter the spring with bees ready to work. I don't migrate to the Almonds, but that doesn't mean I let them sit around on their heels either.

    Once the Euc, Oak, Alder pollen becomes available, the bees are less ravenous on the sub. They work it overnight, and on cloudy days. By March, the crusty bits are carried out of the hive as trash. I purchase dry powder and make up my own mix (per bag instructions) adding oil or crisco depending on my assessment of tracheal mites. The oil keeps the homemade patty moist.
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 01-21-2015 at 12:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    I didn't open the hives yet. They look pretty vibrant at entrances though. This may be a clue that they do fine. I don't see dead ones either. Soon I will take a peek, on a nice sunny day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Patties vs. pollen substitute? Same thing? Any difference? Nobody said something about dry sugar. Thanks to all who answered.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    7,257

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Keep in mind that pollen substitutes (and real pollen) vs sugar (and honey) serve different purposes in a hive. Pollen is not consumed by adult bees (except nurses) in significant quantities.

    Nurse bees need large amounts of protein (pollen) to be able to produce royal jelly to feed larva, but protein requirements of non-nurse bees are relatively minimal. Sugar/honey, on the other hand, is what sustains adult bees on a daily basis - all year long. While both pollen and honey in relatively large amounts are necessary to raise brood, for the most part pollen is not required unless the hive is raising brood.

    A good reference on bee nutrition: http://www.beeccdcap.uga.edu/documen...article10.html
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,220

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Beesohappy, do you see Hive beetles in the Stockton area.... I see a few here and there, never enough to think twice about them though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    1,080

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Dr. Eric Mussen's two page tutorial on Sub is worth reading.
    http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/files/147616.pdf

    My practice is informed by the following paragraph. I find Dr. Mussen's insight true in every particular.

    "Bees do not find pollen substitutes particularly attractive. It must be placed directly in contact with the bees, as close to the brood as possible. As long as the bees are bringing in a trickle of natural pollen, pollen substitute will be consumed. If no pollen is being brought in, the substitute will be ignored and will spoil over time."

    A bit of spearmint in the patty helps with attractiveness.

    Dry sub (Ultabee, Megabee, etc) can be mixed with syrup. Ultrabee's package directions have 35 lbs heavy syrup to 15 lbs pollen. They specify 15 lbs white sugar and 20 lbs of "invert-style" liquid (( Invert, HFCS, etc). The invert sugar keeps the patty moister over time.

    Unless the patty is soft, the bees treat it as trash. When I had Mountain Camp and hardened patty in the same top rim, the bees slurped up the Mountain Camp and let the patty crust over with an attractive blue-cheese mold.

    One could follow MB's instructions on acid -- which inverts the sucrose --- or go with any other invert source.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Beesohappy, do you see Hive beetles in the Stockton area.... I see a few here and there, never enough to think twice about them though.
    I've heard various reports on SHB in Calif. I saw one in one of my hives this fall. Hobby keepers reported "many", but when they brought a baggy of them for me to inspect, the bugs turned out to be Wood Roaches. Reports from Napa, Sonoma, and the Bay Area seem definitive though.

    I don't think SHB has the ecological flexibility to survive summer drought in numbers that will allow it to colonize hives.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    3,220

    Default Re: Pollen substitute when real pollen available (in California)?

    I see them as well JW, just never had them infest a patty, I'm more likely to get a couple wax moth's in the patty than see SHB. I saw about 7 this year, mostly in Elk Grove.

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