Protein supplements

The decision to administer bee-collected pollen or protein supplements hinges on several variables: brood volume, stored pollen, present and future nectar and pollen conditions, and hive requirements. In instances where hives are critically deficient in pollen, particularly during brood expansion or when a substantial brood nest exists, beekeepers must carefully assess available options to avert a decline in bee population, which can lead to weakened colonies unsuitable for honey flows or crop pollination.

Possible Strategies:
  1. Relocation to Natural Pollen Source: Physically moving apiaries to areas with naturally occurring pollen is an option, though feasibility may be hindered by cost or logistical challenges.
  2. Supplementary Feeding: If relocation is impractical, feeding pollen or protein substitutes becomes a consideration.
Key Considerations:
  • Timing: Initiate supplement or pollen feeding around 6 weeks before the anticipated natural pollen source.
  • Impact: Prolonged protein supplement feeding may result in shorter-lived bees; two brood generations are viable before such issues arise.
  • Foraging Dynamics: Protein supplement feeding may reduce field bees’ pollen foraging, but natural pollen consumption may increase once available.
Pollen as a Supplement:
  • Natural Pollen: Optimal protein source but varies (6–40%). For rapid hive expansion, aim for 25–30% crude protein.
  • Storage: Storing pollen in combs or using pollen traps. Check hives for diseases, as pollen can transmit them.
Pollen Substitutes:
  • Considerations: Attractiveness, availability, cost, nutritional values, and absence of toxic substances.
  • Ingredients: Various substances like soya flour, canola flour, torula yeast, brewer’s yeast, and vitamin supplements. Particle size must be under 500 microns.
Soya Flour:
  • Recommended but quality varies. Expeller processing removes high oil content. Fat level in the final mix should be around 7%. Protein levels around 50%. Storage in a cold room is crucial.
Canola and Sunflower Flour:
  • Must be treated for high oil content. Protein levels lower than soya flour. Sunflower flour has repellent properties; its use is discouraged.
Sorghum and Triticale Flour:
  • Highly attractive but unsuitable as a dominant ingredient due to low crude protein levels.
Torula Yeast:
  • Generally more attractive than soya flour. Protein levels around 50%, acceptable fat content. However, amino acids may be insufficient; unsatisfactory as a standalone supplement.
Brewer’s and Baker’s Yeast:
  • More attractive than soya flour. Protein levels around 50%, providing a balanced set of amino acids.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements:
  • Added at 1–3% of the mix; their benefits in honey bee nutrition are not fully understood.
Mixing and Feeding:
  • Consider hive purpose (maintenance or breeding) when determining supplement quantity.
  • Varied opinions on quantity; approximately 500 grams per hive per week for strong colonies is a common guideline.
  • Consistency in supplement supply is crucial to prevent harm to developing bees.
  • Various forms: cakes, patties, or loose powder. Sugar may be added for attractiveness.
  • Proper storage and handling are essential to prevent ingredient deterioration.

Tailoring protein supplementation based on hive needs ensures optimal health and productivity. Regular assessments and adjustments in response to seasonal demands guarantee the well-being of bee colonies.

Continue reading about supplements, to: Recipes