Food, nutrition and making sure your bees are strong and healthy
Everyone knows that to stay healthy, we need to eat well and of course it is the same for our bees. We take care of them, we make sure we give them shelter, space, a good place to forage, protect them from disease and of course we feed them. But are we feeding the best for our bees and what can we do better? Here are some suggestions to help ensure you have strong colonies this year
Once it starts to warm up a little in spring you can start feeding protein to help build up your colonies and give your bees a head start. Timing is critical here. Once you start feeding you don’t want to stop until there is plenty of pollen freely available. If you start feeding too early and then stop before there is pollen available, the colony will have no food to feed their brood. Studies consistently show that feeding protein that has real pollen is always best for the bees. Artificial pollen just isn’t as beneficial, making it poor value when feeding bees. Some pollen patties only have a small, sometimes insignificant amount of real pollen in them. Be sure to check to see what percentage of pollen the patties have, higher the better, ideally in the teens. Some pollen protein patties come with additional beneficial ingredients like HiveAlive and other nutrients. These also help keep the colonies strong and make the patties more attractive for the bees, so they consume them quicker. Our HiveAlive High Performance Pollen Patties contain 15% real USA irradiated pollen, full dosage of HiveAlive liquid and seaweed extracts for a complete nutritional profile. They are available in packs of 2lb, 10lb and 40lb.
The larvae that need the protein will also need carbohydrates and if you are feeding because there isn’t any pollen available yet then there probably isn’t any nectar, the bees carbohydrate source. This means you need to feed syrup at the same time. Syrup, especially a light syrup, can encourage the colony to think there is a flow and get the colony building up early too. A light syrup is equal weight of sugar to water and is easily mixed in. Despite the data to show that colonies grow stronger and are more productive when a light syrup is used, it can quickly ferment, making the bees sick and your gear all mouldy. Adding HiveAlive to syrup will prevent this from happening as well as providing other proven nutritional benefits. HiveAlive is scientifically proven to deliver more bees, more honey, less diseases and greater overwinter success. HiveAlive liquid is available in 4 sizes to suit every size apiary.
During the winter, hopefully your bees have plenty of honey or sugar syrup stored and are tucked in happily waiting for the first signs of spring and the year’s first nectar flow. But what if they don’t?! No matter how strong the colony is in the fall, during the winter the colony will naturally contract as the bees that die out won’t be replaced until closer to springtime. The more they contract, the further they will get from their food. If they end up too far away from their food or if they haven’t stored enough, they won’t break the cluster to go get it and can starve. There is nothing more depressing than finding a dead colony with the bees heads stuck in the cells looking for the last bit of food. This can be prevented with fondant. When placed right over the center of the colony, either directly over a hole on the cover board or underneath the cover board, the fondant can be right where the cluster is meaning they can access food immediately. The best fondants won’t dry out so they can be left in the hive all winter, ready for when the bees need it. It’s a small investment that could save you a colony. HiveAlive fondant is sold in packs of 6 and packs of 15. Each HiveAlive fondant patty is individually wrapped and contains the correct dosage of HiveAlive liquid as well as additional vitamins and amino acids.