Maybe this is a dumb question, but this is only my 2nd year. I have read that feeding patties in the spring helps with spring brood build up. If my bees are bringing in pollen by the bucket loads is it still necessary to feed them patties?
Like Ed says, patties are best for colonies with low/no stores (pollen stores). Once the real thing is forageable, they ignore the tastiest patty preparation. They are useful for small queenrearing nucs or other splits where protein supplementation is good insurance. But I only feed patties when I want to start early for strong, early splits.
Feed the bees all the pollen supplement they will consume. It onley takes a few days of inclement weather to have them eat through their stores.
They may be collecting pollen, but we do not know it's nutritional percentages.
If they are missing one of the essential amino acids the others are of no value.
I am currently collecting pollen using a Sundance 11 pollen trap and when the bees have provided me with enough pollen for testing I will then know it's contents.
Borderline starvation is diffficult to observe in plants and animals.
Hey, thanks for all the input, I appreciate it! I have another question, if you are to feed patties, how early do you start? I have a feeling from some of the articles I have read and some of the posts on here that I should have been in my hives by now. The weather here has been slightly cool(40's/50's), with the excception of this week which has been very warm but I have been gone all week. I wanted to get in and do some cleaning and reverse the boxes but have been nervous about it being to cold for them. I plan to do that tomorrow as it will be warmer tomorrow(60's).
I didn't feed any patties for my first 38 years of beekeeping and now only feed to starts because it came into fashion. I keep bees to produce a surplus, not consume $$$. I can see it for commercial beekeepers making small areas of land support hundreds of colonies. For a hobbyist, I consider bees livestock, not pets.
I agree with BEES4U. Feed the bees all the patties they will take. Allen Dick of http://www.honeybeeworld.com/ fed his bees patties all summer long last summer, and he was happy with their performance. IIRC, his bees produced a deep super of honey during August alone.
I have heard some commercial beekeepers say you get the most bang for your buck by feeding patties in the fall. They found their overwintering success to be much better when they fed patties, and the cost of replacing one hive can buy a lot of patties.
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