I do open feeding with Ultrabee powder only in late July through early September when my area has a total dearth of pollen. Bees love it but will only take it when there is absolutely nothing else to get. Does anyone have experience with Bee-Pro and open feeding? The cost is significantly less than Ultrabee and if I can save a few bucks I will. While Ultrabee costs 29% to 43% more that Bee-Pro, depending on the size purchased, I somehow doubt I would get a 29% to 43% improvement in brood rearing by using Ultrabee instead of Bee-Pro. Thus, I am thinking of making the change.
Question 2: Getting small amounts of HFCS to make patties is not cost effective or easy to get and sugar syrup patties seems to get hard really quickly. Is there any reason to not use light Karo corn syrup instead? It does not have as much sweetener/sugar in it but is much easier to get.
I use thick sugar syrup to make patties, if we have Karo I may mix a little in with the syrup. The more syrup you add the better they will consume the patties. I make mine just thick enough they don't run.
I buy Ultra Bee in the 1,500 lb. tote and feed it in the Mann Lake blue plastic pro feeders. The plastic feeders keep the Ultra Bee reasonably dry and I keep it out year round. The bees won't consume it if there is natural pollen available but when there is none especially during Fall and Winter, they consume it ravenously. I just don't see the need for pollen patties with the Ultra Bee dry feed available unless you are feeding at a latitude that is much colder during Winter than Tennessee. I do feed sugar patties once it is too cold to feed sugar syrup if supplemental feeding is required.
Thank you all for the info. We have a very unique climate here that make beekeeping somewhat of a challenge. Where my bees are located, I get at most 3 nectar flows, maple in March and April, blackberry in May and June, and ivy in September and October. We also get total drought from about July 4th through August. The maple flow is generally awful but in good years, it creates the perfect conditions for swarming. It is often a massive flow that clogs up the brood nest in days. There seems to be little in between. The blackberry flow often starts about 2 weeks after the maple flow is over. You can get a lot of blackberry honey if you can prevent swarming and create booming hives. Small hives in this location give minimal returns. The ivy flow in only for the bees to get ready for winter.
I sometimes give pollen patties to boost the populations for the blackberry flow in years with excessive rain. When it is not raining the entire spring, natural pollen is plentiful. July and August have an almost total dearth of both pollen and nectar. I have found through the years that open feeding pollen sub really makes a huge difference in colony health. I am not trying to boost the populations, I just want to supply adequate protein and vitamins to keep them healthy when nothing else is available. At this point, I believe I will stick to what I have been doing and not make the switch. The extra $20 for a 50 pound bag of Ultrabee spread over 2 or 3 years is not going to break me. The bees really like it and for my needs, it is working really well.