Understanding Pollen Patties
Pollen patties are supplements that provide essential nutrients, particularly protein, necessary for the development of new bees. These patties are commonly used during times when natural pollen sources are scarce, such as late winter and early spring.
The ideal location for pollen patties is on the top bars of the brood box, positioned above the center of the cluster. This ensures that nurse bees have easy access to the patties, which they need to feed the developing larvae within the brood.
When placing the patties, leave the paper in place while removing the plastic covering. This allows the bees to consume the patties while preventing the product from sticking to the hive.
Why Use Pollen Patties in a Hive
Pollen patties provide honey bees with essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. These supplements imitate natural flower pollen that includes vital lipids needed for healthy bee development.
It’s important to be cautious when using pollen patties, especially during winter when certain conditions may necessitate protein supplementation. Most pollen patties do not contain actual pollen. They are pollen substitutes, providing honey bees with the necessary proteins for their health.
Understanding when and how to use pollen patties can mean the difference between a thriving hive and one that struggles to grow.
Placement of Pollen Patties
Pollen patties are usually placed on the top bars of the brood box, directly above the center of the cluster, with the perforated paper facing downwards. Placing the patties in this position ensures that bees have easy access to the pollen substitute, promoting brood rearing and overall colony health.
Beekeepers may adjust the position of the patties to suit the colony’s needs. For instance, some beekeepers choose to place patties above the bottom brood box to minimize the attraction of hive pests like Small Hive Beetles.
When it comes to timing, pollen patties are usually provided to bees during periods of low pollen availability or when the colony needs an extra boost. This can happen during the early stages of colony expansion in the spring when nectar and pollen resources are scarce. Patties are also to bolster colony strength during times of stress or when preparing for winter.
However, caution should be exercised when feeding pollen patties, as overuse or improper application can lead to dysentery, poor colony health, or unnecessary buildup of pollen stores. Match the pattie provision to the unique needs and circumstances of each colony when determining the optimal time to provide pollen patties.
Monitoring and Adjusting
Evaluating Consumption Patterns
When placing pollen patties inside the hive, monitor how quickly your bees consume them. Some bees may consume pollen patties rapidly, while others may take longer or not show interest in them. For example, a fluorescent-labeled pollen experiment conducted in 2020 showed that bees would consume pollen patties placed closest to the cluster, which could be between two brood boxes. Observe the colony’s activity near the pollen patty and their consumption rate to make informed decisions.
Adjusting Patties Frequency
If bees consume the pollen patty within a few days, consider placing another one inside the hive. However, if the consumption rate decreases, it could indicate that the bees are finding their pollen sources elsewhere or that the hive is experiencing other issues. In this case, adjust the frequency of adding pollen patties or try and get the patties closer to the brood.
Potential Issues with Pollen Patty Usage
While pollen patties can be beneficial for bees, improper use may lead to pest infestations. One possible issue is attracting pests such as small hive beetles and wax moths. This occurs when bees are unable to consume the entire pollen patty quickly, leaving leftovers that pests find appealing. To minimize this risk:
- Only provide as much pollen patty as the colony can consume in a few days
- Monitor the hive for signs of pest presence
- Remove any uneaten portions promptly
Introducing excessive amounts of supplementary pollen can lead to brood production earlier than normal. This results in a larger population of bees consuming more resources, ultimately causing a strain on the colony.
Pollen patties should be used with caution, and only when the colony needs the extra pollen.
In summary, the placement of pollen patties in a hive is crucial for their effectiveness in supporting colony health and productivity. Pollen patties should be placed directly above the brood nest and can even be placed directly on the bees. Research has shown that patties placed further away towards the corners of the hive often remain untouched, so proximity to the brood nest is key.
Moreover, the surface area of the pollen patty also impacts its consumption by the bees. Patties with a greater surface area are more readily consumed by honey bee colonies.
It’s essential for beekeepers to regularly monitor their hives and ensure that pollen patties are well-positioned to maximize their benefits to the colony.