The crazy spells of warm weather this winter means that the beehives are unusually active for this time of year. When it was 60 degrees, I took a peek in the hive expecting to see a cluster of bees trying to stay warm after a 30 degree night, but they were buzzing around like it was summer. I was poking my head in the hives to feed the bees.
Late winter and early spring is when many colonies can die of starvation. Bees need carbohydrates and protein, along with vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Sound familiar? I let the bees keep all of the honey they stored last year to insure they had carbohydrates through the winter, but where do they get their protein, vitamins, and minerals?
Bees get their protein, vitamins, and minerals by storing colorful pollen, pictured left. If the bees run out of honey or pollen, they can die.
I did not want to completely disassemble the hive looking for pollen on this very windy 60 degree day. Opening a hive with temps below around 55 degrees can risk killing the brood (developing baby bees). So as an insurance policy, I made substitute for pollen, called pollen patties. This substitute is made with sugar syrup, soy flour, and brewer’s yeast. It looks like cookie dough and can be pressed into a patty (pictured right).
The bees had plenty of honey still stored from fall and I am confident that they will remain well fed. I even saw eggs in one hive, which means the queen is alive and well. A couple of the “girls” did not appreciate my visit and shared their feelings for me…2 bee-stings so far in 2016.