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2nd Year Beekeeping

Welcome to the NEW 2nd Year Beekeeping Blog. For those who have sucessfully kept a hive going through the winter we will be here to help you keep your hive thriving through it's second year.

As temperatures continue to rise and honey stores become depleted, beekeepers are applying emergency feed to their hives. Honey bees require an abundant amount of carbohydrates and proteins for adequate nutrition. Honey will supply the carbohydrates but bees do not survive on honey alone. The Protein the bees need will come from plant pollen and is essential as the queen productions increases.

Since no single pollen source will have all the vitamins, minerals fats/lipids and proteins needed, bees must have a number of pollens available to them. Proteins from pollen grains are a buildup of amino acids and vary from plant to plant. The variety of amino acids offers a complete protein diet and not all pollens are beneficial to the bees. A hive with a good protein diet will have multi-colored cells of stored pollen ranging in 57 kg per year.

On average, 15-30% of worker bees are collecting pollen and a single bee can carry up to 35% of its weight in pollen. Honey bees will harvest pollen based on the odor and physical structure of the grains rather than the nutritional features. Once on the flower, the bees collect pollen grains from the stamen and store on their back legs in the “pollen sacks”. A full pollen sack can be easily seen as the bee returns to the hive and can range in color.

The pollen is brought back to the hive and worker bees begin mixing the pollen with nectar and glandular secretions to develop “bee bread”. This is then, in turn, consumed by developing larvae. It is estimated that 124-145 mg of pollen is needed to rear a single worker larvae.

The role of the beekeepers goes beyond inspecting the hive and can entail the role of a gardener. Hives require a variety of pollen sources; therefore, beekeepers must plant bee friendly plants that will produce pollen throughout the season. Be mindful when planning your garden this year.

During the season when pollen is scarce or non-existent, apply a pollen substitute for your bees to consume. This can be pollen patties, Ener-G-Plus bee diet, or fresh pollen grains. Your bees require pollen for growth and development. If they do not have the natural pollen source, a pollen substitute is needed.

Credits: The Benefits of Pollen to Honey Bees. University of Florida Extension. Retrieved at www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in868