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Thread: Feeding pollen at this time of year..pros / cons

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    Default Feeding pollen at this time of year..pros / cons

    I have seen that people feed fondant containing pollen to their bees at this time of year and am wondering if it's a good idea / something I should do ?

    What are the pros and cons ?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    I bet this will get a lot of comment.So would like to have a go at answering to see what others think. The question is do bees need pollen substitute at this time of year. I believe from talking to other beekeepers that Pollen in itself will not stimulate brood rearing it is the presence of nectar that stimulates brood production and the pollen allows brood rearing to begin as they need to be fed pollen. If brood rearing starts too early your bees will use up what stores they have and could starve to death another problem would be bees consuming pollen due to lack of stores and to much solids in their gut could lead to dysentry if they can not get out on cleansing flights they could defecate in the hive spreading disease. if you give too much pollen it can become slimy and the bee will not use it so a little that they can use in a few days would be better. I know some beekeepers who colllect pollen during the season some for research and some for use in the hives if there is a scarcity, they place it on drawn comb and press it in. How did i do?

  3. #3

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    I'm not sure how much pollen is in them drdoug so I would be interested to know as well

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    I've fed pollen early in the season for bees building up for the OSR. I just spooned it onto a piece of card under the crownboard by the tablespoon. Most colonies take it without a problem, one or two barely touched it. A shamefully badly controlled experiment so I can't say whether it was beneficial or not, but it certainly didn't seem to be detrimental. I also didn't have any problems with the pollen going slimy, but it was 'rationed' so there weren't huge amounts sitting about. I added it at this time of year (or a little earlier) when I lived in the Midlands.

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    PS ... I'm not bothering this year
    Last edited by fatshark; 02-03-2016 at 11:23 AM. Reason: Added PS

  5. #5

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    For some years I made pollen substitute, sourcing brewers yeast, low-fat soya flour and milk solids, and adding sugar and honey. It contained very little pollen as I rarely collected it.

    Most colonies would take 300-500g of this mixture most years, but some took none. If not eaten fairly quickly, it tended to become hard or mouldy no matter how I covered it. Once the Spring nectar and pollen flow really got going, guess which option the bees chose?!

    I sometimes used proprietary-brand pollen substitute but the results were much the same.

    So, I've given up feeding these mixtures as I don't think it helped noticeably, though nor did it do any harm.
    Last edited by Kate Atchley; 02-03-2016 at 10:43 AM.

  6. #6

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    My observation in hedged Fermanagh is that hazel pollen is brought in on (the occasional) calm sunny day in Feb (air temp >7C) even when there is what looks like edible capped pollen stores during the Winter/early Spring. Unlike with nectar (fuel), feeding pollen in the cold months seems based on belief (and manufacturer hype) rather than evidence (maybe I just do not know of it). Last year I fed a nectar/pollen fondant mix to a couple of colonies, out of interest, but was not aware of any noticeable effect. is feeding pollen at a time of year when day-length, wind and low temperature are the main constraints to colony development an unnecessary tweek?

  7. #7

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    You did very well GG

    I think the OP was about the commercially available fondant types with egg or some such added
    I don't know but I think there is very little actual pollen in those

    On another tack Ron Brown (author) used to collect a lot of pollen and store it in the freezer
    He said it will store indefinitely this way

    I suppose adding a proportion to some "queen candy" style homemade feed block might work
    Ie honey, caster sugar, and pollen into a very solid paste

    Either way I think nectapol and the other Italian one based on eggs(name escapes me) might be a bit light on actual pollen ingredient although one of them claims to have sterilised the pollen by irradiation or some such method (I think)
    Somebody should google it

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Yes... Approval

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    Ardnamurchan: one day without rain in August; perhaps 2 so far in September; near ceaseless rain these last few days and more to come. So I'm concerned about nutrition for the winter bees though I do have a little pollen still in the freezer.

    I used to make pollen substitute but can't access the ingredients easily from here. Thornes stock Nectapol ... but it's light on actual pollen.

    What do folk recommend?

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    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    Like you I tried pollen substitute with brewers yeast etc. and as far as I could tell, it didn't make any noticeable difference - and if pollen is available then it should not be needed. I faced a poor month in spring a few years ago when the bees couldn't fly and brooding pretty well stopped for a while although they were able to make good later in the year.
    I can understand your concern now but haven't tried any of the commercial products. Using the pollen you have and making a suitable pattie might get them over the potential shortage until the weather improves. Have you been able to see whether there is pollen in the hives or has the weather just been too bad??

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