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  1. #1
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    Default rethinking bee nutrition

    i have mentioned in several posts that i was convinced that bees feeding on real honey would have a much better chance of staying healthy as compared to those feeding on syrup.

    my thinking was that they would be getting the vital nutrients in real honey (not present in syrup) that are necessary for their immune systems to function optimally.

    now i'm not so sure about that.

    after revisiting randy oliver's papers on bee nutrition, i have come to understand that those vital nutrients for longevity and immunity come primarily from pollen.

    oliver does a better job than i ever could explaining what vitellogenin is and the role it plays in bee health and wintering longevity:

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fat-bees-part-1/ (this is part one of a four part series)

    i believe i have found a likely explanation as to why i had 5 of 18 hives suffer queen failure over this past winter. it may be that the natural forage that was available here late last year didn't have quite enough nutritional quality.

    this may explain why those who supplement with protein patties in the fall are having better wintering success.

    this brings me to think like it's not bad to 'top off' or 'bring up to wintering weight' using syrup late in the year, fearing that the bees will have less immunity to pathogens if they are using some stored syrup for fuel.

    i have been putting a little dry pollen substitute out in the late winter for the bees to add to the natural pollen that they bring in. it may be a good idea for me to put some of that out in late summer as well to augment the natural flow as they get into rearing those last rounds of bees for overwintering.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  2. #2
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Well I do a lot of feeding and I, in fact, have quite a few hives that have derived as much as 90% of their carbohydrates from corn syrup since last fall. My take is that, yeah, it does the job but there is a cost in "wear and tear" on the bees to constantly cleaning out feeders. In addition to be most effective it has to be fed early enough in the fall so that the bees have a chance to properly cure it and orient it in the hive. I think for those reasons alone that bees will winter a bit better on most honeys though with different honeys (such as those that granulate rock hard) you may see different results.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
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    Dec 2006
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    Amador County, Calif
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i have come to understand that those vital nutrients for longevity and immunity come primarily from pollen.

    this may explain why those who supplement with protein patties in the fall are having better wintering success.
    SP, your killing me. lol
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  4. #4
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    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Also, just a note, don't forget that there actually IS an amount (however small) of pollen in the honey; not to mention of honey in the bee's stored pollen (bee bread). So, in a "natural" setting, what they get from either of honey/pollen, they get from both, just in different concentrations.

    That said, if a hive is hungry, feed them! Better to have a slightly weaker immune system than die of starvation.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    according to the article the really good stuff that promotes immunity and longevity (vitellogenin) is stored within the bees themselves, and it takes a long time to build up those stores.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    jim, are you using patties in the fall? and if so, about when do you put them on?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    jim, are you using patties in the fall? and if so, about when do you put them on?
    No, tried it once but decided it was counter productive to the brood break that we like to get plus had some issues with shb. If you really want to build big hives, though, fall is the time to be pushing the sub to them. Two different approaches for sure, in recent years we have been getting 2/3rds to 3/4ths of our bees to grade out for almond pollination and thats good enough for me. Many "California guys" like Keith are no doubt doing better than 100% with a good sub program but probably have to work a little harder on mite control. I know one excellant northern beekeeper that got about 110% of his fall numbers to grade out last year.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
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    Apr 2013
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    Marshall county, AL
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    So after reading that article.......newbee question here, would it be beneficial if you trap pollen during the spring and feed it to the hive late autumn to boost winter survival rates?

  9. #9
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    Jun 2012
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    King County, Washington
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    according to the article the really good stuff that promotes immunity and longevity (vitellogenin) is stored within the bees themselves, and it takes a long time to build up those stores.
    I've said this before here and I'll say it again. vitellogenin is the fountain of youth for honeybees

  10. #10
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    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    I'm not sure if I should discard the low pH feed idea. The lactic acid may be acting as a form of mite control. I need to make it more palatable/attractive. There were bees on the feeder ladders when I took them out.

    vg again? Maybe live culture could increase vg if it contains the right signal molecules/nutrients. That's why I'm interested in adding Crisco to make FAEE (brood pheromone). But, I'd need yeast present for ethanol.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by rbees View Post
    I've said this before here and I'll say it again. vitellogenin is the fountain of youth for honeybees
    what makes you say that rbees?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i have mentioned in several posts that i was convinced that bees feeding on real honey would have a much better chance of staying healthy as compared to those feeding on syrup.

    my thinking was that they would be getting the vital nutrients in real honey (not present in syrup) that are necessary for their immune systems to function optimally.

    now i'm not so sure about that.

    after revisiting randy oliver's papers on bee nutrition, i have come to understand that those vital nutrients for longevity and immunity come primarily from pollen.
    I liked Mr. Oliver's article - and I think if covered pollen well. I DO think that we still overlook the importance of nectar in bee nutrition and seem to take a pass at it's importance so that we don't feel bad feeding bees plain old sugar water.

    Although its main ingredient is natural sugar (i.e., sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and fructose),[9] nectar is a brew of many chemicals. ... All twenty of the normal amino acids found in protein have been identified in various nectars, with alanine, arginine, serine, proline, glycine, isoleucine, threonine, and valine being the most prevalent

    Amino acids are the second most abundant nectar solutes after sugar and contain a wide variety of both essential and non-essential amino acids as well as some non-protein amino acids.

    Other substances reported in nectar include organic acids, terpenes, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, vitamins, phenolics, and oils.

    Concerning metals, the "major cation of most nectars ..." was Potassium (K) makes up 35 to 74 percent of the total cation content. Averages of other notable cations were Salt (Na) (17.9%), Calcuim (Ca) (12.8%), Magnesium (Mg) (5.9%), Aluminium (Al) (4.6%), Iron (Fe) (1.2%), and Manganese (Mn) (0.8%)

    I often think about why honey from different nectar sources have different colors and flavours and how those compounds interact with each other and with compounds found in the pollen that they collect. The bees aren't just drinking sugar water. Maybe all these elements can be found in pollen alone, I do not know. I think nectar and honey composition still needs to be in our thoughts.

    http://www.bb.iastate.edu/necgex/Nectar.htm
    http://books.google.com/books?id=0L1...onents&f=false
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nectar
    Heinrich, G. (1989) Analysis of cations in nectars by means of a laser microprobe mass analyser (LAMMA). Beitr. Biol. Pflanz 64:293-308

  13. #13
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    rniles:

    I don't disagree with any of the above.

    There are plenty of beekeepers experiencing drought conditions in their area. So, they'll say, "What nectar?"

    I'm trying to improve the nutrition of my feed so that I can store up some honey supers for fall and winter feeding. Unfortunately, I can't get anywhere near the amount I need unless my hives have built up. Which means feeding them.

    It's a catch22.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Hi WLC ...and I wasn't disagreeing with you either ...and i like the discussion on probiotics. I was just trying to say that the sugar syrup that we feed them, when we must feed, has to be something better than plain ol' sugar water. That along with all the science that is going into pollen substitute, we need to try to figure out a better nectar substitute as well.

    It's a great discussion and I've been enjoying reading through it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    hi rniles...

    i'm still a big proponent of avoiding syrup except to prevent starvation, (and perhaps to help a package get some comb drawn).

    i'm going on 2 years now without feeding except for a very small amount of syrup i gave to a couple of late swarms caught last year.

    but apparantly that wasn't good enough as i lost a handful of queens over the winter, and i'm thinking it may have been from protein deficiency.

    so my rethinking is really more that i'll be paying more attention to pollen stores this year, and i'm considering supplementing.

    thanks for the reply.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #16
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    I can't get anywhere near the amount I need unless my hives have built up. Which means feeding them.
    In one post you said your bees are being poisoned. It is hard to build up a population under those conditions. I don't think feeding is the answer, but I don't want you to stop what you are doing because you could come up with a much better organic feed than what is available today. Obviously I would choose non GMO corn as a base for myself.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  17. #17
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    Feb 2010
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    New York City, NY
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Acebird:

    Who sprays an entire section of Manhattan, where over 100,000 people live, the first week of September, with Anvil 10-10?

    Haven't they heard of Bt? You know, mosquito bits and dunks. Haven't they heard of the pollinator crisis?

    Jeeze.

    You do know that they sell organic corn? They also sell organic sugar, milk, and of course, probiotics.

    You can do your own organic 'thing' if you got some land and maybe a goat or two.

  18. #18
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    Sep 2007
    Location
    New Albany, Ohio, USA
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    344

    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    Interesting thread to read! Bee season just doesn't allow much time to catch up on Bee Source.

    I think it was Radar's response to the McDonald’s comment that I liked. All foods provide nutrients, but your doctor will say all things in moderation are best.

    Also several references to the theory of nutritional wisdom, even as “advanced” as we humans are we do not really seem to be able to select a diet based on its nutritional value, and bees are no different. There are a limited number of taste receptors and bees eat what tastes good. Just like those doughnuts I get every once and a while…
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  19. #19
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    May 2013
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    Citrus Heights, CA, USA
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    6

    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    It is funny.

    Its only a footprint thing.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: rethinking bee nutrition

    I took out the gallon feeders containing the fermented 1:1 sugar syrup/whole milk/probiotics.
    They took a quart from each feeder since 4pm last Thursday. That's a little better than the pint they took from 1:1 syrup the week before.

    I did see a real difference in the type of fermentation that occurred in the 1/2 gallon whole milk/1/2 gallon 1:1 syrup/honey inoculant cultures.

    When I used organic honey from NY and NH, the fermentation looked pretty much like that when probiotics were used. No gas produced, and an almost buttermilk like aroma.

    However, when I used organic honey from France/Brazil/and the Himalayas, I got what I would describe as heterofermentation with gas production. The milk solids seperated completely on the top 1/2 of the culture. It had a sharper odor than the other ones.

    I'll put them into the feeders and back into the hives shortly.

    The bees appear to be unharmed, building comb, and foraging for whatever pollen and nectar are out there. Plenty of pollen coming in.

    So, I'm seeing no harm done from live culture feed. The bees seem to be taking it better than 1:1 syrup alone, and I have noted an obvious difference in the type of fermentation produced by using different honeys as a source of inoculant.

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