If you’ve been wondering when to start feeding your bees for the winter, you’ve come to the right place. Honey is the most popular feed for winter, as it’s the food that bees are designed to live on. You can simply add a frame of capped honey onto your hive during a warm day. Be careful not to separate the cluster of bees, but place it as close to them as possible.
Pollen is not food for adult bees
In winter, the primary focus of emergency winter feeding for bees is to prevent starvation. Although pollen is not food for adult bees, it is necessary for developing larvae. Beekeepers often distribute pollen patties, also known as globals, to their colonies during the winter. These patties provide valuable protein for the growing larvae. Many beekeepers don’t want to have huge colonies in spring, which prime them for a swarm.
The quality of pollen is generally measured by its protein content and variety. Nurse bees feed on pollen for the development of their ovaries, fat body, and hypopharyngeal glands. Pollen consumption increases the levels of proteins in the hemolymph, and this protein is often accompanied by storage proteins. The results of this research indicate that adult bees are not getting enough protein during the winter.
Pollen patties stimulate brood production
If you are feeding bees for winter, you should be aware of when to give pollen patties. Pollen patties can be given to your bee colony in the early spring right before the nectar flow begins. When you feed your bees, they will consume them and begin to produce worker bees. You should stop giving them pollen patties once the nectar flow stops, or you may risk starving them and losing half of your colony.
In autumn and winter, beekeepers typically face a low pollen supply and a reduced brood production. To supplement these low-protein environments, some beekeepers use pollen patties to stimulate brood production. Pollen patties provide nutrients for bees, so feeding them during this period will help ensure that their colonies have a steady flow of brood throughout the winter.
Nectar flow is inverse of nectar dearth
Nectar dearth is a common problem with honey bee colonies. Bees must produce their own honey to satisfy their energy needs. During periods of nectar dearth, bees are more likely to forage on flowers that smell like honey. When nectar is scarce, bees fly low and investigate any available opportunities. During periods of dearth, bees also tend to be more aggressive than usual.
When nectar is scarce, bees will forage in neighboring hives. Because their food supply is reduced, they will be eager to bring in anything that smells like honey. However, this will result in foragers risking stings from guard bees in neighboring hives. They will look for any source of sugar water that is unguarded. This will result in less honey production, which is less than ideal.
Keeping colonies healthy during a nectar dearth
A nectar dearth can occur in any season, but it is most common during the winter and summer. In addition to being a stressor for humans, nectar dearths can be detrimental to bee colonies. When temperatures are high and the plants grow slowly, nectar production is reduced or even stops. This leaves the bees without enough food to feed their bodies. Luckily, there are a few ways to help keep colonies healthy during a nectar dearth.
First, notice the signs that your bees are struggling. These changes include louder activity, increased agitation, and checking out new flowers and places. In addition, you might notice a higher rate of robbing. Keeping a colony healthy during a nectar dearth requires a bit of extra work on your part, so be patient! By paying attention to your colonies, you’ll be able to determine if your bees are struggling and how to best address the situation.
Avoiding feeding bees in cold weather
While feeding bees in cold weather can be problematic, it’s not always possible to avoid it altogether. The winter months are typically colder than the rest of the year, and this can make sugar syrup unsuitable for hives. Sugar water feeders should be removed from beehives once the temperature drops below 60°F. If this is not possible, beekeepers can use bee fondant or candy boards as last-minute solutions. In addition to these options, there is also commercially available winter bee patty that is rich in protein and sugar.
During the winter, bees can become “cornered” if they don’t get enough food. This can be prevented by stocking the hive well with food. The use of candy boards is a good insurance policy. You can also store excess sugar in your freezer for the winter. In any case, bees will still eat the sugar from the candy board. This is good for your bees and for your wallet!