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Hello everyone.
I am in Connecticut and spring hasn't arrived yet. Back in March I started giving pollen patty in the hopes of getting my hives to buildup fast. I don't see them taking pollen with too much interest! They have fondant also, if I give them baggies of syrup would this make significant difference in how they would start brood building up?
What is the best way to get my less populated hives into early buildup?
Thanks
DP
 

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Syrup certainly stimulates hives. But they will not raise brood in any quantity till they also feel the time is right climate wise. However once that time arrives, syrup will help kick them into action. Sub won't do much until they need it.
 

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Your climate is only slightly warmer than mine as we come out of winter - Northeastern and New England spring seasons are both extended AND erratic. Pollen sub on March 1 was probably a little too early if the hives weren't pretty full of overwintered bees. (For comparison, I only started adding it to my hives on March 30th.)

The usual application timing is about 6 weeks before your main nectar flow, not the start of your first flow. The idea is to stimulate brood in order to wind up with a peak population of worker bees ready to haul that nectar in. OTOH, if your principal plan was to bust your hives apart to create spring nucs for sale, then earlier pollen sub would be used. Because in that instance, you would want your peak population to be at the time you made up the nucs, which is sometime in early-mid April. But for hives intended to make honey, with any splits being made to become overwintered nucs, then you want the peak population to happen later, at the main flow.

But pollen sub only works as a brood stimulus when there are enough bees to tend the build-up. (Bees ain't dumb!)

Not sure what the strength of your bees were going into winter, nor what the mite (and therefore, also the viral) challenges they may have had since then.

If they have pollen and fondant (or winter patties or bricks) then they have the nutritional resources to start build up.

As the temperatures warm up, the energetic demands of keeping brood warm-enough to survive to adulthood will lessen, so fewer bees will be needed. But at the same time, more of the over-wintered older bees will be reaching the end of their lives.

Baggies of syrup will not help you in this instance. And they will become chilled and unpalatable, or worse, chilling to the bees which consume it.

When you have a warm-enough day to do so w/o stressing the bees, you might consider (temporarily) reducing the size of the hive to make it cosier. It's OK ito have an extra box in a bee-population stressed hive if it is under the active brood box. Most of the time people are reversing their boxes in the spring, but if the hive is low on nurse bees, moving the brood away from the warmest part of the hive (the upper areas) is an unnecessary and possibly-harmful stressor.

If your hives are insulated, you might take off the insulation on the fronts during the day, replacing it before dark. This allows them to capture and retain the thermal gains of direct sun on the hive fronts.

If you find your hives weakened at the end of winter, then you need to review, and possibly change, your summer and fall practices in order not to repeat the problem this year. Perhaps your mite treatments weren't sufficiently well-matched to a late influx in the fall. Once it's warm enough, I would also do a sugar roll on the bees to establish their current mite status. There are treatments that you can use to push the mites back down, even at this season.

Also if you have SHB in your hives. I would consider removing the remaining pollen sub pieces that have not been eaten up promptly. Replace them with smaller, fresh pieces, restocked more frequently, in order to avoid hatching out a disgusting crop of SHB larvae in the patty. I rarely add more than 1/3 of a Global pollen sup. slab at a time (a piece about 3 x 4 inches, max.) even on a strong hive. I want them to eat it up (SHB eggs and all) before the eggs have a chance to hatch out. If that means I have to crack the tops open and feed Global patty every five days, or so, so be it.

ETA: If you have screened bottom boards, be sure they are closed right now.

Nancy
 
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