Spring Hive Inspections and a Homemade Pollen Substitute

Just look at all that snow still on the ground a week into spring! And here we are on a beautiful sunny day with air temps well over 64 degrees cracking lids on all our hives to make sure clusters look good and sugar boards are still sufficient. Out of the 2 nucs, and 8 hives on my property, only 4 of the large hives kept in single deeps made it. All of the Italians gave up the will to live in the last three weeks or so. We had two of the Italian hives in double deeps and the other two in single deeps. The two Italian nucs might have made it had we combined them or added them to another hive after removing their queens. One of the single deep hives was run out by a mouse who made their hive it’s home. Nasty little creature. Next winter we will definitely put mouse guards on all the hives for insurance.

All of our buck face, carnica and Sakatraz hives were doing extremely well. They were even carrying in large sacks of pollen already. We decided to not pull frames right now to see if there were laying queens as we did not want to cause distress when evening temps are still dropping near to freezing. We did, however, add a full deep of resources (about one frame of bee bread and 9 frames of honey) to each of the hives that were left behind from our Italians and have supplies ordered to make homemade pollen substitute this week. We had a huge mess scattered across the snow while trying to organize the resources and clean equipment to put up in storage. Organizing.jpg

The dead hives you see above still had queens, no moths or mites were found so we know with the supplies still available to them they simply gave up. There is some theory out there that the hives will actually do better in a single deep than in a double deep and we are starting to lean that way for future winterization. We will also modify our feeder boxes to have more insulation between the sugar, burlap, and lids. Each loss was a lesson for us and we look forward to our growth this year. I am ready to get back into weekly hive checks and growing our business.

In order to grow our business, we need more bees so our focus right now is to feed the bees pollen so the queens can begin laying. Locally all our stores were sold out of pollen patties so we needed a backup ASAP. A hunt began for a recipe for homemade pollen substitute. We reviewed several recipes online and came up with a 3:1:1 ratio for ours. We didn’t choose a recipe with sugar added as they already have sugar bricks in their hives and plenty of honey frames. Bees will be drawn to the substitute because of the soy flour alone, but the addition of vitamin C will also draw them in. The flour provides fat and protein and the brewer’s yeast is for amino acids.

pollen substitute

Pollen Patty substitute Recipe:

1 part- Brewers Yeast

1 part- Powdered milk

3 parts- soy flour (locally this was impossible to find! Ordered online)

Dash of Vitamin C per 6 cups of mixture

As you can see below I made my batch based on weight in pounds. I found it rather easy to mix up and left out several feeders in different containers outside of the hives. It has been rather cold in the evenings so I didn’t want to open up the hives the last several days.

Bee pollen

I will keep you posted on their rate of consumption! How do you prep your hives for Spring and the new build up? Have you found an affordable pollen patty source or do you make your own?

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