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it was really warm here in bedford virginia thursday, 75 degrees bees flying and bring in pollen. gave all 7 hives a quart of syrup. they seem to be bring in a lot of natural pollen. i am not sure if i need to feed them a pollen pattty
 

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I'm not a self proclaimed expert like some, but to me it would seem logical that pollen supplement be fed in times of pollen dearth...like a rainy period when they are in the middle of a brood buildup and can't bring in any...they will shut down brood rearing, so supplement will get them thru this hump. Some put patties on before bees are able to get out and forage early spring for an early brood buildup...but if they have fresh pollen, they tend to ignore supplement.....Randy Oliver gets out in his rain gear to put patties on when forecast is for rain for several days in a row during brood buildup. Good luck deciding!
 

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They don't need it if natural food is available.
 

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We keep patties on the hives thru the spring because it's not at all unusual to get a week of incessant rain. If a colony runs shy on protein with young brood in progress, they can cannibalize what brood they dont have enough protein to finish feeding. With patties in place, they wont run out of protein during a spell of bad weather.

We've kept fairly good records over the years, started doing that the first time we saw one of Micheal Palmer's videos where he talks about yard sheets. We learn a lot by going back thru those records and comparing results over different years. First couple of years where we didn't provide any spring supplements, colonies had a couple frames of capped brood by maple bloom. The next few years we used a home made mix, Beepro and later Ultrabee. With those we found the bees would consume the supplement well during periods of bad weather, but when weather was nice they would ignore the supplements and go for natural forage. In those years we typically had twice as much capped brood by maple bloom, usually around 4 frames. Two years ago we tried the 15% global patties at the recommendation of a local old-timer. With those on, they get consumed no matter the weather, and by maple bloom we are finding 5+ frames of capped brood. We target getting spring supplements on 6 weeks before the maple bloom, that's sufficient for two rounds of brood to be raised prior to maples. Maples will start blooming in force here around the first week of April, average date over the last 5 years is April 3, and it runs plus or minus 10 days. 2015 it started on March 22, whereas 2017 it didn't start till April 14. So what we do is on the first sunny warm weekend day around Feb 15, we go out and start putting patties on, full size colonies get a whole patty, nucs get half of one. They get checked weekly and the routine is fairly strait forward. A colony that has more than half a patty left gets nothing. One that has finished more than half, but still has some patty left gets a new patty. A colony that has completely consumed what was on gets two. We will probably start first round of patties here next week.

We dont feed syrup in the spring for two reasons. First it's usually to cold overnight for syrup, and second, the patties are 50% sugar, so the bees get lots of carbohydrates along with the protein from the patty.

Our entire spring feeding regime is focussed around the maple bloom. Our goal is to get 1/3 of the colonies built up enough that they are ready to make honey when maples start blooming, then we put supers on those that are sufficiently built up. We have a long waiting list for maple honey and it sells at a steep premium to wildflower honey. We dont get it every year, but on those years where we do, it's a nice little spring bonus. If we can pull capped frames out of a super at apple bloom, then what's in the combs will be just maple honey. If nothing is capped by apple bloom then we wont have any maple honey. this is the one time of the year where we feel it's worthwhile to pull honey by the frame rather than pulling full boxes. It's a lot of extra work, but if we can get bottles of the maple honey, well worth it.

That's the when, how, and why of our spring feeding regime.
 

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I do not have small hive beetles to worry about, but pollen patties are great to build up the bees. I will put the first ones on in around a week and make sure the colonies never run out until when I pull brood frames there are hand size or bigger patches of pollen stored everywhere you look. A week of rainy or cold non flying weather can happen anytime in the spring and it can be disastrous to colonies.
 

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Grozzie,

Thanks for sharing your insights and experience. Very, very informative!

I think locale and bloom/weather conditions probably have a lot to do with feeding differences.

This year, due to feeding diligence, was a massive game changer for us! We started experimenting with the sugar bricks recipe Lauri posted. What a massive difference!

First [and I have never seen this before], we started seeing phenomenal early build up. I am talking entire frames of deeps filled with fresh brood in January. In some cases, colonies literally doubling in size within a two week period. Never seen this ever before in January. We also use a modified version of pollen sub using the Mann Lake Ultra [we add lots of oil].

We just returned from the almond orchard a few minutes ago. Here is what we saw:

1. Massive build up in all colonies [we added a new 10 frame deep to every colony.
2. Some colonies had completely devoured the sugar bricks, others had completely devoured the pollen sub, but no colonies had completely devoured both].
3. Massive numbers of bees in the upper screened risers [this is where we place the sugar bricks and the pollen sub]. It has been raining for a couple of days now, so they are eating like crazy rather than foraging.
4. Queens laying like machine gunners.
5. Happy bees.

Special note: almond bloom in this orchard is at less than 1%, so there is not much happening right now. But these colonies were in blooming eucalyptus forests for the last few weeks and I believe that had a massive impact too.

Final note: I am a total rookie, but my mind went through a large shift in regards to feeding. Now, we are committed to giving a strong feeding program every winter, not allowing any lack of sugar or pollen sub ever. The results of a strong feeding regiment have been so incredibly radical that I will follow this plan in the future.

We will not stop feeding until we see the bees stop taking the feed.
 

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I do not have small hive beetles to worry about, but pollen patties are great to build up the bees. I will put the first ones on in around a week and make sure the colonies never run out until when I pull brood frames there are hand size or bigger patches of pollen stored everywhere you look. A week of rainy or cold non flying weather can happen anytime in the spring and it can be disastrous to colonies.
pick your brain a bit.. seems early..you're north of me.
 

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We are north of Vance and a lot colder than Grozzie. We try to get pollen supplements on as close to Valentines day as possible, Typically we add a sugar block and a pollen pattie and check every two weeks weather permitting. It has proved to make a significant difference the last two years.
 

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Soar,

(Quote) We also use a modified version of pollen sub using the Mann Lake Ultra [we add lots of oil]. (Un Quote)

Would you be so kind as to hare your recipe and proportions for the pollen sub with us. Colorado is very dry and my ML Ultra pollen patties always turn into a rock. Thank in advance.

Also, an additional thanks to grozzie2 for all the good info.

Cheers,
Steve
 

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Soar,

(Quote) We also use a modified version of pollen sub using the Mann Lake Ultra [we add lots of oil]. (Un Quote)

Would you be so kind as to hare your recipe and proportions for the pollen sub with us. Colorado is very dry and my ML Ultra pollen patties always turn into a rock. Thank in advance.

Also, an additional thanks to grozzie2 for all the good info.

Cheers,
Steve
Very happy to help Steve!

Mann Lake has a recipe printed on every 50# bag. We modify the recipe a little and here is how we do it:

1.73 gallons or 20 lbs of syrup [Pro Sweet Blend] from Mann Lake
12 lbs of granulated Costco sugar [some local beeks had problems with Walmart sugar].
15 lbs of Mann Lake Ultra Dry Pollen Sub
1 quart of corn vegetable oil [Costco sells the 35 lb plastic containers at a reasonable price].
.5 teaspoon of lemon grass oil

If mixing smaller amounts [50 lbs], we found using a 5 gallon bucket with a Harbor Freight mortar motorized mixing tool works well.
Larger amounts, we purchased a large cement mixer.

First, add the syrup to your mixing instrument.
Next, add lemon grass oil
Next, add the vegetable oil
Next add the sugar
Mix this real well before adding any dry Ultra Bee
Slowly begin to add the dry Ultra Bee until desired consistency is met

This final part, we adjust to make what we feel is the perfect consistency: Soft enough to easily form patties, yet firm enough it does not stick to your gloves/fingers. This makes it incredibly easy to work with and we have never seen this dry out during the fall/winter/spring months. Best of all, the bees love it!

Special Note: I would much prefer to purchase the Nutri sweet patties from Keith Jarrad [we live only 30 or so minutes from his place], but he never returns our calls or requests for his pre-made pollen sub patties. I think he only sells semi truck fulls of the Nutri sweet patties. We did a cost analysis and his patties are actually significantly lower than using Mann Lake's recipe, and best of all, no labor cost at all because his is already mixed and ready to go!

Hope this helps!
 

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pick your brain a bit.. seems early..you're north of me.
It is not too early for me steve. I aim for mid Feb to get a pattie on the bees. It takes two weeks for the bees to start eating and consume the first pattie. So in ten days I make the rounds and usually put on two patties and add sugar bricks as required. That makes it March and in ten more days I check again and replenish the patties and cuss when one or two have run out. I add four patties to those colonies and any other colonies who might run out. I plan on going thru ten pounds per colony average in the spring. The bees are ready to split or super when Dandelions and fruit are blooming last half of April. But you must plan on doing something or the bees will swarm on you. I get an extra super of honey before others have thought of supering.
 

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Soar,

Thank you for your recipe and procedure. It is much like I've been using, but I'll test is out this Spring and if pleased, write it up for my club as a recommended "go to" recipe/process.

Cheers,
Steve
 

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It is not too early for me steve. I aim for mid Feb to get a pattie on the bees. It takes two weeks for the bees to start eating and consume the first pattie. So in ten days I make the rounds and usually put on two patties and add sugar bricks as required. That makes it March and in ten more days I check again and replenish the patties and cuss when one or two have run out. I add four patties to those colonies and any other colonies who might run out. I plan on going thru ten pounds per colony average in the spring. The bees are ready to split or super when Dandelions and fruit are blooming last half of April. But you must plan on doing something or the bees will swarm on you. I get an extra super of honey before others have thought of supering.
How large of patty are we talking?.... incredible you have dandelions that early...here no dandelions until May...and you are way North of me.
 

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Soar,

Thank you for your recipe and procedure. It is much like I've been using, but I'll test is out this Spring and if pleased, write it up for my club as a recommended "go to" recipe/process.

Cheers,
Steve
Steve,

Glad I could help!

We're making up a new batch today because several colonies completely demolished the pollen sub leaving not a morsel.

Still doing our best to pump out the sugar bricks 24/7 with the dehydrator too.

I am thinking in another week or two, the flow will be so strong here there will no longer be a need to feed.

For us, feeding colonies well is a lot of work, but it is well worth it.
 

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How large of patty are we talking?.... incredible you have dandelions that early...here no dandelions until May...and you are way North of me.
Dandelions start blooming in early April most years but I don't think much nectar is secreted until the ground warms up a little. We get colder than you being zone 3/4 but we get compression heating winds off the Rockies that really blast the snow off and warms things up. My queens are ordered for 30 April and it will be swarm season here about then, within a week either way.

One pound patties are the way Global makes them. They have twenty outlets now, if one is within reasonable distance from you consider trying them. I like the 15% pollen ones myself but the bees consume the cheap ones just as well for me.
 

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Dandelions start blooming in early April most years but I don't think much nectar is secreted until the ground warms up a little. We get colder than you being zone 3/4 but we get compression heating winds off the Rockies that really blast the snow off and warms things up. My queens are ordered for 30 April and it will be swarm season here about then, within a week either way.

One pound patties are the way Global makes them. They have twenty outlets now, if one is within reasonable distance from you consider trying them. I like the 15% pollen ones myself but the bees consume the cheap ones just as well for me.
Thanks.

I made 45lbs of my own patties...sliced them into 3lb chunks, so I wanted to know how big your patties were so draw a timeline as to how fast I could expect them to run through my 3lb patties.
If you are running thru a 1lb patty in 2 weeks, then I can expect my 3lb patty to last around 4-6 weeks give or take.
 

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The palatability of patties varies wildly. Before I really believed in them I would buy the dried up turds sold from the mail order houses and would throw them away in May uneaten. I bought the bags of power later and mixed in sugar and water with varying results. When I put on these patties in mid February where the bees are thickest on the top bars, they slowly start using it . I usually check ten days later and rarely is a colony out of pattie. Any that are receive two and everyone receives another except any two seam strugglers who obviously don't need it. I check again in 7-10 days and replenish as required. I plan on ten pounds average per colony and really try to make sure they never run out! I add sugar bricks as required at the same time. The bees really never stop taking the global patties especially if fresh. I stop feeding when I have pollen stacked up all around the brood frames. I rarely see much of this sub stored though.
 

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The palatability of patties varies wildly. Before I really believed in them I would buy the dried up turds sold from the mail order houses and would throw them away in May uneaten. I bought the bags of power later and mixed in sugar and water with varying results. When I put on these patties in mid February where the bees are thickest on the top bars, they slowly start using it . I usually check ten days later and rarely is a colony out of pattie. Any that are receive two and everyone receives another except any two seam strugglers who obviously don't need it. I check again in 7-10 days and replenish as required. I plan on ten pounds average per colony and really try to make sure they never run out! I add sugar bricks as required at the same time. The bees really never stop taking the global patties especially if fresh. I stop feeding when I have pollen stacked up all around the brood frames. I rarely see much of this sub stored though.
Randy Oliver did a study on pollen sub. They do NOT store pollen patty sub...generally consume on the go....pollen sub dust will get stored as it stands alone and turned into bee bread.
 
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