I like your thought process. However, I don't see the value of feeding low quality anytime, even for the cost savings.
The winter bees need to be "fat" and healthy to best survive. They also need to avoid digestive problems. It is best to take that back one generation, to the nurse bees that raise the winter bees, so they likewise need good qualty nutrition.
Additionally, when open feeding not all the sub will be consumed, some will be stored. So they are storing the lower quality for their winter/early spring needs. Not the best option.
A high quality pollen sub such as Ultrabee is not that expensive when purchased in 50# bags. I feed whenever natural pollen is scarce and use it to make my own patties. Kamon and several others have recipes on their websites if you are interested.
I have used BeePro for years but last year they sent me ultra bee.The bees really love it and thats all I use now.I hate open feeding but with beetles going after the patties I went to open feeding it.Heck if I build up other bees around me and I get their swarms then I will come out ahead this coming spring.
A 10# bucket should be enough for three hives for one year. I open feed by placing a few mason jars of sub laying on their sides in an empty hive. Let the bees find it and carry it back to their hive. Do not try to put the sub in the hive itself. Later, you can use some of it to make patties and save a ton over the cost of buying premade ones.
Hello, David. I politely differ with your hypothesis #2. High-quality food year-round is a better idea. Bees can find themselves fighting off diseases and pests at any time, and I want mine having full faculty to do so. The entire year is about Winter preparation here in the temperate zone.
When the page comes up, look on the right-side column under the advertisments, in blue letters, the 4th entry down is "bee nutrition". Click on that and start reading his articles.
While the knock-offs are a bit of a help to bees in a dearth, the best of the lot is a pollen substitute called MegaBee. It was developed at the Dyson Federal Bee Research Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona by Dr. Gordon Wardell. This was clearly proven in Randy Oliver's comparative test of pollen substitutes, when the bees populations recovered in January as natural pollen became available, the colonies fed MegaBee recovered at the highest rate. Others came close, but did not match the recovery rates of the hives fed MegaBee. It is not yet perfect, as natural pollen is indeed better, so the "ingredient X" that is different has not yet been found, but so far, this is the closest anyone has come.
Also check out www.megabee.com. Look for "about megabee", and click on all the headings to read each paragraph. If you have any further questions, email Dr. Gordon Wardell, [email protected]. He seems to know a little bit about the subject.
I would not be surprised if high-quality feed, both pollen sub' and liquid feed, helps to reduce robbing. Seems that well-fed bees are less prone to get desperate and risk attacking another hive, but I am not a bee, just a human making a SWAG.
I would love to conduct some kind of study on that, but how does one design such an experiment? I could see a massive effort, comparing well-fed bee yards to poorly-fed bee yards for percent robbing events, on a huge scale giving the nudge one way or another, but inductively rather than conclusively. Kind of like when a beatnik says that there is no proof that cigarettes don't cause health problems, the statistics say he's wrong, but he's right only in that an overwhelming mass of evidence is not a conclusion.
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