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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    13

    Default When to add pollen patty ?

    Hi,
    It's my first winter as backyard beekeeper in zone 5b. I've read it's good to add a pollen patty at this critical juncture, so bees won't starve. Haven't opened hive all winter - too cold! But can hear them buzzing and have seen cleansing flight activity when visiting the hive (almost daily). When can I think about opening the hive to add a pollen patty or two? Does it have to be a 55 or plus degree day for a quick pollen patty drop? Any tips on how/when to do this is much appreciated. (Fingers crossed). Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,503

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Don't apply the patties untill the bees will emerge with fresh pollen coming in. The bees can raise brood on suppliment but when the new bee emerges, it needs real pollen to eat to complete its healthy developement. I am pushing that rule myself this spring, but good research has shown that you can hurt your bees by feeding it too early. It is not too early to check and make sure your bees have lots of honey! They will start using carbs fast now that they are probably starting to raise brood. A lot of fine colonies starve to death in the spring.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Thanks very much Vance. If it's not too early to check for honey stores - I don't know how else to check honey stores - other than opening the hive. Do I risk harming them by opening the hive in this cold weather (high 30s/low 40s)?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,503

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Low forties without wind is fine to pop the lid and look for frames of honey toward the outside. Can you lift the colony from the back and see if it feels heavy? If the colony is so full of bees as some of mine are, it would be hard to see how much honey was in the outer frames. If there is little wind or your location is sheltered, you could gently pull an outside frame and look for capped honey. If you find some, you are OK for now. I chose the easy way and just put a newspaper on the top bars and poured on some dry sugar for insurance. Good luck with it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Thank you agin! I'm assuming you put the newspaper with dry sugar on the brood box frames and not on the honey super frames....will definitely give it a try.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,121

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Don't apply the patties untill the bees will emerge with fresh pollen coming in. The bees can raise brood on suppliment but when the new bee emerges, it needs real pollen to eat to complete its healthy developement. .
    Hmm, good luck with that.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,503

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Mr. Jarrett, you are a commericial and certainly know more than I in my small hobbyist sphere. I said what I believe to be true from reading studies and following what I thought was a best practice. Could you please explain the error? What is your experience? Is your suppliment good enough to raise brood on all by itself?
    Last edited by Vance G; 02-24-2013 at 10:47 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,121

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    . Could you please explain the error? What is your experience?
    Vance, first remember that all beekeeping is local. When feeding sub "most" beekeepers are trying to time a honey flow, split or pollination to the size of there hives, so they are feeding sub so to size up the hive at a certain time. Hope this helps and makes sence.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Good answer Keith, I was just going to say something similar, for me feeding pollen sub well before natural pollen is available gets the bees going with brood when they might not be rearing any at all, that is because in my wintering setup the bees end up in the top of three medium boxes at this time of year, and that box usually only has honey or syrup in it and no pollen, and with the cold weather we will still be having the bees can't go anywhere else in the hive to obtain pollen which is in the lower two boxes. John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    King County, Washington
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    I disagree...

    I have found when I provide pollen supplement, the adult bees consume it and convert it into vitellogenin which is the magic protein of healthy bees. Also buy stimilating vitellogenin production the bees provide your first years crop of new bees such that the young larvae are litterally "swimming" in a pool of royal jelly, which results in healthier bees upon emergance. Of course this is JMHO, but well placed pollen supplement really jumps start brood rearing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Elmira, NY
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    I think it would be more accurate to say that most pollens are better then most pollen subs.
    Some pollens don't have all of the amino acids needed to create the proteins needed to to raise healthy brood, of example.
    Sugar syrup is sucrose, and honey is a blend of sucrose, glucose and fructose.
    The acidity (pH) of syrup is easily adjusted to match most honeys.
    Its not true that all honeys have a lower pH than sucrose either... rather the average pH of honey is lower than the pH of most sugar syrup...again, by adding an acid such as vinegar to sucrose, you can actually have a a syrup with a lower pH than honey.. and very easily and conveniently, I might add.

    Generally I think honey is better feed than sugar syrup, and it is certainly less work. but that doesn't mean syrup is poor feed.

    So why feed syrup or pollen?

    1) During a drought, when no nectar is flowing and you have a large bee population, it may be necessary to prevent undernourishment or even shortened lifespan from hunger.

    2) Pollen might not be available.

    3) Feeding protein can build hive population much earlier in the spring resulting in much more pollen and nectar/honey being available for a growing population later in spring, avoiding the need to feed much more syrup or pollen sub than one might otherwise need to during a time of scarcity (b/c more bees are available to gather what is available.)

    There are other reason as well, these are just examples of some good ones.

    If you had a choice between great food and good food, you's pribably choose great food.

    If you had a choice between good food and no food, would it be wise for you to choose to go without and compromise your health?
    Of course not.
    For the same reason, sometimes less than ideal food is fed to our bees... both by the bees themselves (they'll gather chicken feed when pollen is not available), and their keepers.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,121

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    rbees, very well said, good post.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Elmira, NY
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    rbees answer is indeed excellent.

    Apparently I stayed up so late that I answered post #16 twice, and one while sleep deprived... lesson learned (sorry)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Thank everyone! Great info as I am just learning! I specifically mentioned that I was a backyard beekeeper because I do not have any intention of growing to more than 2 or 3 hives. I'm ok with letting the bees do their thing (ie swarm) and my goal, like yours Beregondo, is to support healthy colony of bees with no drug or pesticide treatments and require little or no feeding. I'm truly in the "hobbiest" category and enjoy learning about bees. If I get a few jars of honey out of this, I'd be delighted. All that said, I'm not adverse to doing what I can to help the bees out if it means getting them through winter. I've read that this is the time of year that many hives starve to death. I left their full honey super on heading into winter and if adding a pollen patty now through spring will help get them through - then, I'm in! So, is adding a pollen patty and raw sugar in a windless day w/temps around 40 the right thing, for me, to do at this point? I'm struggling with the decision of whether to risk opening the hive in these still cold temps to feed or just leave them be?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,357

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    you will be fine. Just dont leave it open longer than needed to check and feed!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,649

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    so Cynthia have you figured out from the pollen sub fight when to put it on? I don't use them, but if your hive is heavy enough, put them on, if they don't need or want they won't use them, two things to remember if they use the pollen they need enough honey to feed the brood so you must monitor it, right now the weather is not warm enough to feed sugar water, and if you stimulate the bees to raise more brood early, the mites are also stimulated and your mite count goes up sooner, so monitor that. good luck and keep records so you learn and will have a better idea for next year.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,451

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    It has been at least hinted at in the above, and perhaps someone outright said it, but adult bees do not eat nor do they need pollen. They will not starve for lack of pollen. They can't raise brood without pollen.

    If the issue is them starving, there are options as far as feeding, but if the hive is not light I would not worry about it.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    King County, Washington
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    I disagree Michael. The first thing adult bees do when emerging is feed on honey and pollen...or pollen supplement. Adult bees DO consume pollen

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,503

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    rbee does a bee that emerges instantly become an adult? Are those fuzzy little cuties instantly ready for guard duty or foraging? Nah! They need to grow up first to adulthood. They indeed eat pollen to get that done and do nurse bee duties. after that, they do not eat pollen.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    782

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Put it on the plate, it's gone, someone ate it.

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