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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    14

    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
    3,839

    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
    14

    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
    3,839

    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
    14

    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
    3,161

    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
    3,839

    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
    3,161

    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
    2,819

    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
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    303

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    John when were u planning to add patties to your bees. We have a very similar wintering situation and I'm thinking probably the second or third week in march based on longer forecasting

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,819

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    the doc, actually I just put them on last week, may seem a bit early but I am planning to do lots of splits this spring so hoping to get brood rearing going. Most of my hives that survived came through with small clusters anyway, so not sure how much these patties are going to help initially because the bees can only cover so much brood. John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    303

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    ok interesting. I have a similar plan for increase. I will take a look at them this weekend. Their clusters were good sized last I looked about 4 wks ago but that is like ancient history. Will let you know what i see. Could add them next weekend potentially

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,071

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Often hear pollen sub creates short lived bees. Short is kind of indefinite. Poor quality sub, say just a basic brewer's yeast and soy flour with little natural pollen available shortens life by what percent? Is that figure based on studies or observation?
    I assume poor sub shortens more than good sub. Assume the higher portion of diet that is good quality pollen fills in the gaps in the sub.
    At some point high quality sub must equal or exceed low quality pollen or a lack of pollen. Many short lived bees in a pre forage situation may be preferable to a few long lived bee.
    Looking for thoughts.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    I figure shorter lived bees will produce more than the bees I won't get without feeding.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,161

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Often hear pollen sub creates short lived bees. Poor quality sub, Looking for thoughts.
    Saltybee, great questions here. First you need a well rounded sub mainly proteins & fats. Salty, you need 10 amino acids for the make up of protein & 5-8% on your fat levels. Becareful not to get sucker in to the fluff, some bee suppliers call there stuff the "gold standard of pollen sub" and only list 9 amino acids they leave out the most important one. So don't be fooled by tons of ads.
    A good sub should list protein level, fat level, PH level.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Vernonia Or
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    I’ve no experience – am starting 2 hives April, so, sorry to interrupt with some ignorance but…. I read that syrup’s a poor substitute for honey - among other things because mites and other threats “prefer” the pH of syrup over honey, and I continually hear criticism of pollen substitutes. Why are the substitutes standard operating procedure instead of somehow using the real thing?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

    You will see more than one beekeeping philosophy in forums, as well as beeks with different goals.

    Different beeks with different philosophies and different goals means many different ways to do things right...depending on your goals.

    One guy wants to maximize honey production, another wnats ot maximize bee number increase his apiary or sell bees, and still another wants to raise bees as naturally as he can.

    Many fixate on an ideal situation and refuse to acknowledge practical practical reasons ot vary from an ideal.

    For instance, using operating a car as an analogy, one guy might say keeping a car in tune results in best gas mileage and lower cost of operation.

    That's true.
    But getting a $30 tune up every week to save $10 in fuel defeats the purpose.

    My goal is to raise a healthy colony of bees that require no drug or psticide treatments ot do well, and require little or no feeding.

    Look at my last comment on this thread:
    "I figure shorter lived bees will produce more than the bees I won't get without feeding."

    I know that if brood rearing starts earlier, I will get more generations of bees before honeyflow, resulting in thousands more bees.
    Those many thousands of bees might not live as long, but will raise more net brood, collect more net pollen, and make more net honey than fewer, longer lived bees.

    More pollen and honey stored over winter means a much higher likelihood of overwinter survival.
    It means i can raise more brood, and have more nurse bees to care for them.

    With more bees and more food, I might be able to make more nuc hives, and increase my hive count.
    With more bees, I am more likely to be able to harvest more honey, and still leave my bees healthy with plenty of honey to overwinter w/o feeding them.

    SO I put pollen sub patties on around Valentine Day.
    So long as I keep them on until bees are bringing in natural pollen, I'll get one or two more brood cycles worth of bees before honey flow.

    On the other hand, if my goal was to maximize the health of individual bees instead of the colony, I wouldn't feed patties, b/c individual bees would not live as long.

    If I wanted bees kept without intervention, I'd leave them in a tree and just look at them go in and out, as anything more is an intervention.

    If I wanted them to raised in a hive as completely naturally as possible, I'd do no feeding, no swarm management, and in harvesting honey would leave more than think that they need for winter, so that don't have to feed them unnatural feed.

    I do feed syrup when needed, but try to manage my hive so that they don't need it.
    When I make syrup, I add an acid (vinegar, usually) to adjust the pH closer of honey's...which is about 3.5-6, on average.keeping bees in my region, because:

    My bees don't get sick, I haven't had mite problems (though I don't use any miticides), and I am meeting my goals.

    If my goals were to maximize profit or to maximize "naturalness" the right way to do things would be different, in order to reach different goals.

    I hope that clears some of the confusion.

    Be mindful that what works for someone in another place with different goals than yours might not work well for you in your place with your goals at all.

    Techniques vary, but general principles are the same:
    Keep brood warm in winter and spring.
    Split your hive or open the brood nest before they start making swarm cells in spring.
    Don't wait until a pest as done mortal damage to a hive you want to live before addressing the problem
    Don't starve your bees.
    Keep them dry in winter.
    Eggs and larvae mean your queen is probably home and healthy
    no eggs and larvae often doesn't mean your hive is queenless
    make sure your bees have adequate stores to overwinter before winter sets in.

    And don't forget the main rule:
    Have fun

  18. #18
    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.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    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.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,161

    Default Re: When to add pollen patty ?

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

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