Being a successful beekeeper means keeping a close eye on the nutritional needs of your hives. While bees have a diet that mainly consists of carbs from syrups and honey, it’s important to ensure that they get enough protein — especially if they are raising larvae. This is an example of one of the occasions when it may be beneficial to make pollen patties.
What Are Pollen Patties?
Bees are actually very efficient when it comes to their food. They usually store enough for them to use and if the supplies run low, the bees will stop raising drones and replenish their supply of pollen. They will often wait for their pollen coffers to be full before they start raising a brood.
However, if a beekeeper wants his or her hive to grow and thrive, it means feeding them more pollen so they can reproduce. You can feed your bees dry pollen, but this can be problematic. It often takes a long time to gather, and it can be difficult to distribute. Often the best results are by creating something called pollen patties and placing them directly in the hive.
When Should Pollen Patties Be Used?
Every hive is different, but you may want to consider using pollen patties if:
- You want the buildup to make early splits in spring
- You want to build up in preparation for pollination
- You want to raise early queens, and therefore, need to emphasize raising drones earlier
- You want to keep a strong dearth, which can be important for raising queens.
Essentially, pollen patties can help your beehive grow and ensure strong, healthy drones that will want to raise their own young, expanding your hive and raising queens.
How Do You Make a Pollen Patty for Bees?
So, how do you acquire pollen patties to ensure fat, happy, and healthy bees?
First, depending upon how many pollen patties you have to make, a better use of your time may be to simply buy a pollen substitute from a beekeeping supplier and mix it yourself. However, you can create your own pollen patty “recipe”
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You can also make your own formula. Simply take a 5-gallon bucket and mix one half of pollen substitute to 1/3 bucket of sugar syrup. This can be done in a 2:1 sugar syrup to corn syrup ratio.
Gradually add the syrup until the mixture is no longer runny but somewhat stiff. It’s important to remember that the mixture will continue to stiffen after it’s mixed because it absorbs the liquid.
To mix, you can use a creaming screw. Use a good 1/2″ drill, but make sure you have a relatively low RPM. Most inexpensive variable speed drills have higher RPMs and tend to lose power when operated at a low RPM.
If you’re mixing a very small quantity, there may not be any need for a drill at all—you could mix it by hand or use a mixer.
Because the mixture will get stiffer, it’s best to create the patties shortly after you create the mix. Use freezer paper because it makes a good seal but the bees have no trouble chewing through it. Cut the freezer paper into strips around 8 to 10 inches wide. Then, fold it over so the shiny side is in.
Seal the two sides by using an impulse sealer. This will create a small pocket and you can scoop the pollen patty mixture into it. Place around 1.25 pounds of the mixture into each one.
Afterward, roll them flat. Then, seal the last side with the sealer. It can be stored for a while before use.
When Should You Feed Pollen Patties to Bees?
If you live in an area where you have hive beetles, then you should not feed pollen patties during the warm months. It’s most advisable to feed the pollen patties in late winter through early spring. Why? Because this is the time of year that the bees are accelerating their brood production.
As they are making the way for new “baby” drones, the hive can run low on pollen reserves. If pollen collection over the previous fall was difficult, then it is very likely that you have low pollen reserves.
Where Should You Place the Pollen Patties?
Once you have created the pollen patties, you should place them on the top frames located directly over the cluster of bees. It’s important to be sure that the pollen patty is close to the brood nest so your bees can easily access it regardless of the weather or temperature.
Remember, when you place your patties on the hive, you don’t need to break up the cluster, nor do you need to remove frames. There’s no need to expose your brood to cold or cool weather. It’s best to wait until the weather is warmer.
You should cut a “V” in the freezer paper and peel it back to expose the home-made pollen dough. Afterward, open the hive to expose the top of the cluster. It’s important for the patty to be placed above the cluster, so if it’s in a lower box, you may need to remove the top box.
The important thing is that you don’t squish any bees when you place the patties in the hive. Therefore, you may have to smoke the hive or even use a bee brush.
If you’re interested in growing your hive, you should be well-aware of the importance of pollen. If your bees run low on pollen, they won’t produce the larvae that will become the next drones. It can also hold you back if you’re trying to raise queens. In these cases, a pollen substitute known as a pollen patty can be a great option.
While you can buy pre-made mixes, it’s very easy to create your own pollen patty “recipe” and craft a small envelope out of freezer paper in which to place this mixture. You should place the pollen patties directly in the hives, but you need to be very careful that you don’t accidentally squish one of the bees. Therefore, it’s important to consider the possibility that you may need to smoke the hive or use a bee brush when you place the patty.
Last update on 2021-04-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API