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  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    Red bluff, CA USA
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    Embarrassed pollen substitute for winter?

    So this will be my first winter and I've been making my list of things to get ( winter projects) boxes, mouse guards ect... I was wondering what the best pollen substitute is for a treatment free beek? I'm not really sure what goes into them and I don't want to feed them a bunch of synthetic crap, I'm totally open to DIY suggestions but don't know where to get the products necessary. so a little help in deciding what to buy (pollen wise) would be much appreciated! thank you in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Don't take this as criticism, it's an honest question. Why do you think you need pollen substitute?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Don't take this as criticism, it's an honest question. Why do you think you need pollen substitute?
    as of right now my bees have a plethora of honey capped but have eaten most of their pollen stores. Here is northern California ( not san Francisco) it's been hot and I mean 115 degrees hot, fall is well on it's way when it will be wet and we will have 40 mph winds pretty much everyday and nothing really blooming. Based on this I'm thinking they will be needing something to eat other than honey since there won't be much pollen to obtain. All the local beeks I've talked to do treatments and feed pollen substitute and all of them put extra stuff in their pollen. So, tere you have it! why? do you think I may not need it? If I don't that would be awesome!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    It's my personal view and practice that nobody needs pollen substitute. I have never used it and don't plan to. Beyond that, I cannot say much definitive, only that it's the bees' job to gather their food.

    Pollen is for brooding. Bees do not need to "eat" it during winter, it is largely fed to the brood. They do need a store of it to start brooding in the spring, but that depends quite a bit on your local forage.

    Deknow would say that as a protein source, it is far inferior to pollen and produces bees with less than stellar health and longevity.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    thank you for the insight! I guess in my newbie mind I just figured that they sould always have some! The forage in early spring and even late winter is good here actually, and as long as next years winter ends as this years did ( we're in a 7 year drought at the moment, little snow on the mountains) there should be enough foraging days for them! maybe I'll just go without and see how it goes! it will at least save me time and money! can't go wrong there!!

  6. #6
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Something to remember is that bees are semi-feral animals by nature. They have not (and hopefully can not) been domesticated. We subvert their natural instincts to serve our purposes. They are not pets. They shouldn't need to be fed or watered, but their natural mortality is high, so we try to help them along because we still want them to serve our purposes. The balance is the trick. I prefer to leave more up to them.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
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    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    There was a link posted on the bee forum on an interesting plosone article on pollen diversity. Might be worth a read if you didn't catch it. http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...d-Diversity-Ma

    Around the same time there was a thread on pollen sub where I think Keith Jarrett posted some information on his sub that was interesting too, especially in contrast to the plosone article.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2011
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    Central Valley, CA, USA
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    I think feeding Pollen sub during fall and summer is a must in CA if your hive has not plenty of stores of it. My hives here in central CA keep a small brood area all winter long and brood heavy well into the end of October. If you run low on pollen stores already now you better put some pollen sub on ASAP!

  9. #9
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    Jul 2013
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Go to Randy Oliver's site, and get his recipes and mixes for pollen sub. Go to the Oz document "Fat Bees, Skinny Bees" and get their careful case histories. Note the Oz recipes all use significant natural pollen in their mixes (they trap and feed back). Note also how amino acid balance is critical, for instance sunflower pollen is deficient.

    You want to go into the chill weather with 4-5 frames of bee bread ready for the January-February brood period. You can get these from natural sources (rabbit brush, etc) or you can get them from a balanced sub. If your bees can harvest Arroyo Willow, they will get earliest spring pollen, but this is often not available in "farm" landscape, or inclement weather stops the necessary feeding flights.

    California bees must be ready for March-April, because this is our flow. Not June like Arkansas. If you don't have the hives conditioned for rapid build out they will dwindle all next summer.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-05-2013 at 06:54 AM. Reason: uncivil

  10. #10
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    There was a link posted on the bee forum on an interesting plosone article on pollen diversity. Might be worth a read if you didn't catch it. http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...d-Diversity-Ma

    .
    Thank you! this was very informative! and although It didn't really help me decide on what kind of pollen to get, it did make me reconsider feeding it! Like I said I would really like a pollen substitute that is as close to the real deal as possible. See, I'm not raising bees as a means of my own survival but rather theirs, so I would like them to be as strong, healthy and natural as possible. my goal is to have my bees naturally breed with the native bees in my area so that they have the natural survivor genes of the wild bees that were once prolific here.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Bees need pollen in fall to be healthy for winter survival. And here in central/northern California there is a dearth in the fall in many areas so pollen or pollen substitute is a must for having healthy bees into winter. You will have better survival rates over winter with good pollen stores in fall. I'm feeding now. Keith Jarrett's Nurtra-Bee probably is the best, or at the top of the list, but for small quantities you may not be able to get it. I have used Global 15% patties with good results. Mega-Bee from Dadant or Ultra-Bee from Mannlake should do well. I have used BeePro from Mannlake and have no complaints with it. I do not think pollen substitute with bee-health or honey-bee-healthy is good, but many do like it. I don't feel that it needs those essential oils in them, I just want a good nutrition patty, not something with added hype to it.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Moonfire View Post
    Thank you! this was very informative! and although It didn't really help me decide on what kind of pollen to get, it did make me reconsider feeding it! Like I said I would really like a pollen substitute that is as close to the real deal as possible. See, I'm not raising bees as a means of my own survival but rather theirs, so I would like them to be as strong, healthy and natural as possible. my goal is to have my bees naturally breed with the native bees in my area so that they have the natural survivor genes of the wild bees that were once prolific here.
    I don't have enough experience to weigh-in on the feed/don't feed controversy but am trying to learn. Right now my experience is that I have fed sub and thought it was helpful but also think it shouldn't be the norm in a healthy hive with a good season. I have a lot to learn though and greater experience may change this outlook.

    As far as the study article, for me a couple items really stood out. The first was the rubus pollen (which had the highest protein content) was best and seemed to bring the mixes up and another was that the second best pollen didn't have the second highest protein content but instead had a higher fat content. To me these items could help in identifying the best pollen suppliment. At the least it told me that blackberries are something I wish my bees had access to!

    Good luck with your decision and your bees!

  13. #13
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    Franklin County, PA
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    What I have done is try some with and some without certain things and see how the bees do with or without them this way I can see if something helps or not. I have tried Mega bee and had good results with it. It's the only one I have tried. The bees will need to relieve themselves so make sure that in the spring when it warms up to have a top entrance hole in the inner cover so the bees can fly out.

    In the early spring if you mix up some fresh mega bee pollen patty, it is a mixture of the powder pollen and sugar syrup. The bees suck the syrup out of it and take it. If they don't need it or it is too far/cold from them to get they may not touch it.

    I looked through my bees recently and they were so dry of honey it was the worst I have ever seen it so started feeding some and gave them each some pollen patty and within a few weeks they were very much looking better. If they don't need feed I don't bother but the younger hives needed it and even some of the older ones. It will depend on the weather and strength of your colony etc. They are bringing in pollen so I won't over do it with pollen patty but I gave them some.

    I'm still trying different strategies. Feeding hasn't ever seemed to be a bad idea this time of year for me. They are filling some of the brood chamber with syrup and still working on the wax and seem to be enjoying the feed.

    Good Luck!!!
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    > I was wondering what the best pollen substitute is for a treatment free beek

    The general philosophy is not to feed artificial food. Pollen substitute is exactly that. Pollen, if they need pollen and there is none available to forage, would be the right thing to feed if you are trying to follow the concepts of "treatment free" beekeepers. If you can't manage that, then at least 50/50 pollen and whatever substitute you intend would be an improvement over just substitute. When you see them gather sawdust, it's hard not to think you can improve on it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The general philosophy is not to feed artificial food. Pollen substitute is exactly that. Pollen, if they need pollen and there is none available to forage, would be the right thing to feed if you are trying to follow the concepts of "treatment free" beekeepers. If you can't manage that, then at least 50/50 pollen and whatever substitute you intend would be an improvement over just substitute.
    When I fed the pollen supplement I did press real pollen into it making it approximately 50/50 but I was a bit nervous about it because I had to use purchased pollen. My hives are starting so I didn't have any from them to use. Isn't real pollen a possible source to bring a disease like AFB into a hive? Due to this and SHB I only gave supplement if I thought they HAD to have it and then in very sparing amounts. Is this a real concern when using real pollen that has been purchased?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    > Isn't real pollen a possible source to bring a disease like AFB into a hive? Due to this and SHB I only gave supplement if I thought they HAD to have it and then in very sparing amounts. Is this a real concern when using real pollen that has been purchased?

    I'd say you are as likely or more likely to introduce beneficial organisms as pathogens. AFB is a brood disease. Brood comb is the likely place to find it, not so much pollen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Default Re: pollen substitute for winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    > Isn't real pollen a possible source to bring a disease like AFB into a hive? Due to this and SHB I only gave supplement if I thought they HAD to have it and then in very sparing amounts. Is this a real concern when using real pollen that has been purchased?

    I'd say you are as likely or more likely to introduce beneficial organisms as pathogens. AFB is a brood disease. Brood comb is the likely place to find it, not so much pollen.
    Thank you, that is very helpful. I didn't think about the possible beneficial organisms it would bring in, just the protein and nutrition boost.

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