Dry patties, often sold as pollen substitutes, can supplement honey bee colonies’ protein needs throughout winter and late spring, providing additional benefits. But it’s essential to use them at the appropriate times.
Feeding too early may cause rapid brood rearing and negatively affect a colony.
Easily Slips Under the Inner Cover
No matter if you feed your bees a commercial winter patty or use homemade methods such as sugar bricks, the patty should easily fit under their inner cover so as to eliminate needless cluster breaks during cold inspections and access protein supplement quickly by bees.
As with any form of nutrition, overfeeding must be avoided to ensure colony survival. Overeating will quickly deplete its stored honey supply and lead to starvation; to protect yourself against this scenario during winter lift the back of your hive from time to time and compare its weight against its same period in previous years.
To make a pollen patty, combine soybean flour, brewer’s yeast and sugar syrup in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Divide this mixture among shallow pans and use a rolling pin to flatten it – be sure to smear your rolling pin with white flour beforehand in case any of it sticks!
Good Source of Protein
Pollen patties provide bees with the essential protein they require when rearing brood and building their colonies, and can help increase honey production while strengthening hives. Although bees should use them sparingly as pollen patties attract hive beetles, pollen patties should only be used sparingly as their use tends to attract beetle infestation.
Early spring or in areas with limited foraging opportunities can benefit bees by providing them with pollen supplements to stimulate brood rearing and build resilient hives that can withstand Varroa mite attacks more easily.
These pre-formed pollen patties are easy to apply in the hive and can be combined with Pro Health for faster consumption. Sold individually, it should be placed directly above brood cluster so nurse bees have easy access. Pollen patties are especially beneficial in high density apiaries where beekeepers may need to stimulate brood-rearing for splits or fill empty cells during winter months.
Easy to Prepare
Pollen patties can be quickly prepared using either a pre-made mix or your own recipe. Mix sugar syrup until it reaches putty-like consistency, then form it into small patties (around hockey puck size) using wax paper as support and stack in layers between wax papers before placing inside your hive.
At the end of winter or in early spring, bees must increase their brood pattern in order to maximize their population in preparation for nectar flow. If a colony does not have enough natural pollen available, now would be an opportune time to supplement with high-protein patties in order to stimulate brood production and speed up buildup processes.
However, too much protein may lead to an excessive brood pattern that exceeds what a colony can support, leading them to starve out and die out altogether. To protect their colony’s welfare and avoid this scenario, it is wise to monitor bee protein consumption and adjust feed schedule accordingly.
Easy to Store
Pollen patties can be an effective solution in spring when natural pollen supplies are limited and to boost brood production. Some beekeepers also employ them in winter to encourage brood rearing when necessary, though their increased population could potentially strain an already struggling colony’s resources.
To use a patty effectively in your hive, place it across the top bars of the lowest brood box and make it easily accessible to nurse bees, who are responsible for brood rearing. Bees will quickly devour it; any uneaten patties must be removed within 72 hours to prevent small hive beetles.
Beekeepers can create their own pollen patties by mixing sugar syrup with some water and pollen in a mixture that should have the texture of cookie dough. Some beekeepers add brewer’s yeast as well. Once completed, beekeepers can place their creation in their hive with plastic removed for storage.