Bee Nutrition with Nancy Ruppert

Apiary Inspector, Nancy Ruppert, spoke to us at our June meeting about bee nutrition. Here some tidbits from her talk.

– Good nutrition can increase a worker bees’ life span. An increase of just one week can have a great impact on the hive overall.

– A healthy colony needs 700 lbs of nectar per year

– Nectar Substitutes

  • Cane sugar is the best substitute
  • HFCS is suitable but can vary from 42% to 90% fructose, 42% is most like honey which is what should be used
  • Heating HFCS above 120 degrees can make it toxic. Use caution with HFCS that has been stored in drums during the summer where it can reach these temperatures.

– A hive needs about 2-3 pounds of pollen per week

– When carbohydrates are needed

  • During a dearth
  • Build up for winter
  • Wax building
  • Stimulate the queen to lay (in the spring to late summer to boost population)
  • Brood rearing

– Bees need pollen to process carbohydrates

– Importance of pollen as it relates to the duty and age of the worker bee

  • Nurse Bees (1 to 12 days) need pollen for the development of their hypopharyngeal glands so that they can produce royal jelly
  • House Bees (12-18 days) make wax and pollen is needed for their wax glands to develop properly
  • Forager Bees (18+ days) pollen is required for the development of their flight muscles

– The best natural pollen is comprised of 25% protein, anything higher is hard for them to digest. When using pollen substitutes 15% protein is best

– When evaluating pollen stores in the hive, look for a rainbow of colors. This indicates a good variety of pollen sources which is best for the health of the colony.

– There are 10 amino acids that bees need for good health. The only way to get this is from a variety of pollen sources

– Good Pollen Sources

  • Dandelion
  • Canola
  • Apple

– Bad Pollen Sources

  • Pine
  • Sunflower
  • Ragweed

– When to feed pollen

  • During pollen shortages (during a dearth or during winter)
  • Prior to stress placed on the hive due to…
  • Brood rearing
  • Commercial pollination
  • Making splits
  • Raising Queens
  • Development of winter bees
  • During the nectar flow
  • Feed pollen when feeding sugar

– If you were to piece together all of the bits of pollen scattered throughout the hive it would fill about 2-3 frames

– When pollen has a bit of sheen to it, that means that honey has been added. Pollen can mold and ferment quickly, the honey acts as a preservative.

Category: Club News