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Alternative food sources and the effects they have on our bees.

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Finman 

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Many years ago in the Netherlands I had a good few combs full of pink strawberry flavoured honey. I discovered a jam factory nearby where they left the barrels in which they were supplied outside with some syrup in. It was quite nice on toast.
Strawberry jam is not very expencive to buy.
 

Michael ECB's 

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London is the alternative name for Pitseng Lesotho, it even features on official literature nowadays.
Long drops, pit latrines, whatever - same thing.
Just giving you some stick. Lesotho is still a beaut spot - The mountain Kingdom.... Some good honest people live up there in those remote areas... True old school..
Have nothing but will still give you the shirt off their backs...

Pit Latrine .....:D:D:D
Long Drop still a better name....
 

Michael ECB's 

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Many years ago in the Netherlands I had a good few combs full of pink strawberry flavoured honey. I discovered a jam factory nearby where they left the barrels in which they were supplied outside with some syrup in. It was quite nice on toast.
Well, I'm feeding Apple Jam to one of my colonies, If I see no ill effects I may continue to do so....
If it does not harm my bees I see no harm in having some fun with this "project"
Worst case scenario, I have apple flavored honey to baste my smoked pork chops & rashers with. I can think of far worse things to happen...

Apple flavored honey !
And that offends anyone - Honey flavored Apple jam...
I'll get the NZ fellows on board and have this on your tables in a few weeks...
 

Michael ECB's 

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Feeding trials going really slow,,,, made holes even larger - 8mm holes in bottom of tin now with breather hole in top but slow going,,,, Bees love it and pack the bottom all day long but minimal being taken in - too thick I believe... Have mixed jam 1:1 with warm water in upside down bottle, small holes... Once again, bees are packing it and seem to love it....
We just coming out of winter so still not much natural forage around..
 

Anduril 

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Back in the early 80's I remember someone keeping bees in a greenhouse and feeding them fruit juice. But I don't know what the outcome was.
 

madasafish 

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Feeding trials going really slow,,,, made holes even larger - 8mm holes in bottom of tin now with breather hole in top but slow going,,,, Bees love it and pack the bottom all day long but minimal being taken in - too thick I believe... Have mixed jam 1:1 with warm water in upside down bottle, small holes... Once again, bees are packing it and seem to love it....
We just coming out of winter so still not much natural forage around..

That is the formula I use in my wasp traps - with a little added vinegar to deter bees....
 

understanding_bees 

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Very fortunate here to be on a farm. I have a lot of planted pasture around, clover as well as Lucerne (Alfalfa) But cattle are put in before flowering starts, the Lucerne is also harvested and baled as soon as budding starts as this is when we get the highest protein level out of it. (std farming practice here)..
We do also have natural indigenous forage available but was wondering what if .......

What if I supplemented their natural diet/forage with some man made by-products? Would this help? Could this help?
We feed a lot of different livestock and carefully manage intakes to ensure a well balanced and healthy diet is being consumed, why could one not look at bees in a similar way and manage them accordingly... Just a thought...
Could bees be considered livestock? I am of the opinion YES!
Perhaps not domesticated yet but livestock I believe..

We also have a Biodigester here and process a lot of byproducts, chocolates, biscuits and several other sugar/sweet products..
Bees are already here on site and obviously have a field day here,,,, syrups dripping out of bags, caramel, icing sugars and even infant formula powders....
Bees here are mostly wild bees with only one or two of my own colonies that I know of frequenting this site... (No other bee keepers anywhere close)
Very rich and dark honey - the kind that burns the back of your throat.. I love it...

Please also note, we dont sell honey, we give it to family, friends and staff..

I was contemplating on trying this in a more controlled manner and making x-amount available per hive, (Test Single Hive First)
Focus would be on smooth Jam used in the baking industry.. I currently have a few tons of it....
This weeks flavour is apple...

Was hoping someone somewhere would have tried something similar.
Easier to learn from others mistakes...;)

Hmmmmm.....
I wonder if the bees would simply store it or break it down and process into honey?
Once again,,,, here goes my mind racing again (Or is it just a brain Fart?)

Look forward to hearing some thoughts...
Even from the few keyboard warriors...
This whole subject of feeding bees is one which is of interest to many people.

Here in Australia, the consensus seems to be that it is important to allow bees to feed on their own honey through the winter months. In other words, we should not take too much from a hive when we collect our “share” of the honey harvest. Feeding with syrup is something which is done as an “insurance” to make sure that the bees do not run short.

The impression that I have gained is that a different approach is used by beekeepers in UK, (and I do not know about other parts of the world). It would seem that honey harvest time is anticipated with eagerness, and that a generous harvest is taken. Feeding the bees with sugar syrup seems to be routine.

I do not know whether I have gained an accurate impression, but I have seen lots of comments which suggest that beekeepers wish to maximize their honey harvest. In such circumstances it would become vital to provide a carbohydrate food, and sugar syrup seems to fit the bill.

There is an important factor to consider, though, which is that nectar contains other ingredients besides natural sugar. Does nectar contains minerals, vitamins, and other micro-nutrients as well? How important are such substances in a good, healthy, well-balanced diet for bees to experience good health? What might be suitable substitute foods for bees which would provide the right balance of essential micro-nutrients?

There are similar considerations when it comes to the proteins which bees require. They forage from many different types of plants, which provide various blends of proteins. I have read that there are many different proteins which bees require, which are found in the various types of pollen. I have also read that soy-bean flour is a rich source of protein, but that it does not have the ideal balance of proteins for bee nutrition.

There are substitute materials available commercially, “pollen substitutes”, but I would like to know just how nutritious they really are for the bees, compared to the real pollen which the bees collect. Are these commercially mixed substitutes better than the recipes which can be found for us to mix ourselves?

One of the comments in this discussion thread includes a question, “Have you seen the price of this stuff?” I do not think that we should begrudge a fair price to be paid for a good product, but there seems to be an underlying suspicion that some of these products are disproportionately expensive.

I appreciate Michael ECB’s comments:

“I have been playing around here making pollen substitutes (Soya, Yeast, mineral packs, vitamins etc) and have in my opinion had great success growing colony populations through the winter... Tests continue here.....
Couldn't help but wonder what could be achieved if more focus was placed on feed/forage intake as we do here with all other forms of livestock/..
Once again, I'm looking at this from a more livestock point of view...”


This kind of thinking is “right up my alley”, and I would be happy to participate in researching these matters. If we are able to cooperate in this kind of research, then the benefits could be far-reaching, for bees and beekeepers alike.
 

fiat500bee 

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Feeding the bees with sugar syrup seems to be routine.
Hi W.,
Feeding bees does seem to be routine in the UK and pure sugar is clearly the dominant foodstuff used. As with other types of livestock and pets it seems logical to me that there should be a "formula" feed which provides the correct balance of minerals and proteins and which is the correct pH. If there is such a product I'm sure most people would say it's a waste of money as sugar has kept bees going "forever" and after all, "What do you think nectar is made from?" But as I have noted with many things related to keeping bees there is an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to development of new ideas and beekeepers seem to prefer using judgement gained from experience to inform them as to when and what to give their bees.
I like your Australian tradition of leaving plenty of their honey for the bees. :)
 

madasafish 

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This whole subject of feeding bees is one which is of interest to many people.

Here in Australia, the consensus seems to be that it is important to allow bees to feed on their own honey through the winter months. In other words, we should not take too much from a hive when we collect our “share” of the honey harvest. Feeding with syrup is something which is done as an “insurance” to make sure that the bees do not run short.

The impression that I have gained is that a different approach is used by beekeepers in UK, (and I do not know about other parts of the world). It would seem that honey harvest time is anticipated with eagerness, and that a generous harvest is taken. Feeding the bees with sugar syrup seems to be routine.

I do not know whether I have gained an accurate impression, but I have seen lots of comments which suggest that beekeepers wish to maximize their honey harvest. In such circumstances it would become vital to provide a carbohydrate food, and sugar syrup seems to fit the bill.

There is an important factor to consider, though, which is that nectar contains other ingredients besides natural sugar. Does nectar contains minerals, vitamins, and other micro-nutrients as well? How important are such substances in a good, healthy, well-balanced diet for bees to experience good health? What might be suitable substitute foods for bees which would provide the right balance of essential micro-nutrients?

There are similar considerations when it comes to the proteins which bees require. They forage from many different types of plants, which provide various blends of proteins. I have read that there are many different proteins which bees require, which are found in the various types of pollen. I have also read that soy-bean flour is a rich source of protein, but that it does not have the ideal balance of proteins for bee nutrition.

There are substitute materials available commercially, “pollen substitutes”, but I would like to know just how nutritious they really are for the bees, compared to the real pollen which the bees collect. Are these commercially mixed substitutes better than the recipes which can be found for us to mix ourselves?

One of the comments in this discussion thread includes a question, “Have you seen the price of this stuff?” I do not think that we should begrudge a fair price to be paid for a good product, but there seems to be an underlying suspicion that some of these products are disproportionately expensive.

I appreciate Michael ECB’s comments:

“I have been playing around here making pollen substitutes (Soya, Yeast, mineral packs, vitamins etc) and have in my opinion had great success growing colony populations through the winter... Tests continue here.....
Couldn't help but wonder what could be achieved if more focus was placed on feed/forage intake as we do here with all other forms of livestock/..
Once again, I'm looking at this from a more livestock point of view...”


This kind of thinking is “right up my alley”, and I would be happy to participate in researching these matters. If we are able to cooperate in this kind of research, then the benefits could be far-reaching, for bees and beekeepers alike.
Scientific Beekeeping did an analysis of pollen subs.

and LOTS more research
 

Finman 

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How long is winter in Australia that bees do not get Food from flowers? Finland has 9 months such time that hives live with sugar.

Other nutrients bees get from pollen or from fat body.

Honey wintering is not an alternative. 20 kg sugar in winter is 12€/hive. No idea to feed hives with 10 times more expencive honey.

I mean. You have in Australia your own world.
 
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Little_bees 

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There is an important factor to consider, though, which is that nectar contains other ingredients besides natural sugar. Does nectar contains minerals, vitamins, and other micro-nutrients as well? How important are such substances in a good, healthy, well-balanced diet for bees to experience good health? What might be suitable substitute foods for bees which would provide the right balance of essential micro-nutrients?

There are similar considerations when it comes to the proteins which bees require. They forage from many different types of plants, which provide various blends of proteins. I have read that there are many different proteins which bees require, which are found in the various types of pollen.
I watched a really interesting zoom webinar yesterday by Bob Smith NDB about feeding bees.
Re nutrition to live through winter, bees need a diet of carbohydrate (honey or sugar substitute). All the other nutrients that bees collect (lipids, vitamins, etc.) are used in the rearing of brood not in keeping the adults alive and well.

A bee does all its growing in just 6 days, between egg and pupa. The rest of its life is maintenance. For these 6 days the diet is intensive in proteins, fats, minerals, etc that are abundant in pollen.

The upshot is that bees overwinter perfectly well on sugar syrup as long as pollen or sub is provided for brood-rearing. Bees will invariably collect more pollen than they need but some colonies store this in the supers, especially where brood space is limited. If beekeepers remove the supers in autumn and there's not enough pollen in the BB, then subs can be given. Nutritionally pollen subs can be as good as the bees' own stored pollen, depending on the recipe.
 

Mellifera Crofter 

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British beekeepers are eager to buy humbug. Most sugar substitutes are same sugar and have many fold price.
Sorry Finman - what is a 'sugar substitute'? Invert syrup? Fondant? Or honey? Did you mean to say 'sugar substitute' or did you mean 'pollen substitute' - those fondants with a tiny sprinkling of pollen or pollen substitute?
 

Finman 

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I mean sugar substitute, when people believe that normal sugar is not good enough to bees.

Inverted sugar or 3% pollen in sugar means nothing to bees. Bees invert all sugar before it goes into blood circulation. You do not need to take care about it.

Some have invented to feed even banana to bees.

If you take care of space in the hive, bees have combs to store pollen in brood boxes. But if you do not give space, bees store pollen into supers. They must have pollen stores somewhere for bad days. They need pollen every day to feed larvae and emerging bees need pollen too.

Tiny sprinkling of pollen = harvesting Money from hobby beekeepers.

When bees need protein, optimal content is 20% raw protein.

3% pollen and 3 % protein is very different thing. Norman pollen has 15-20% raw protein.

3% pollen may mean under 1% raw protein.
 
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understanding_bees 

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Finland has 9 months such time that hives live with sugar.
I feel that I need to wish you every good circumstance, to keep bees in Finland - or in any other country which has very cold winters. It seems amazing to me that it has been possible that bees have been able to survive in that kind of climate.

Some people in the UK apparently feel envious of the much warmer weather that we have in Australia. Perhaps we in Australia might be envious of the lush conditions in UK. This kind of envy of other peoples circumstances has been expressed by the thought that "The other man's grass is always greener". I believe that hot, dry conditions here would not be agreeable to many in UK (or Finland), just as very cold, wet, and inclement weather would not be enjoyed by people living here.
 

Finman 

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I feel that I need to wish you every good circumstance, to keep bees in Finland - or in any other country which has very cold winters.
We can wish our weathers, but not our climate.

We do not have here flooding or forest fires .
 
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Erichalfbee 

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I feel that I need to wish you every good circumstance, to keep bees in Finland - or in any other country which has very cold winters. It seems amazing to me that it has been possible that bees have been able to survive in that kind of climate.

Some people in the UK apparently feel envious of the much warmer weather that we have in Australia. Perhaps we in Australia might be envious of the lush conditions in UK. This kind of envy of other peoples circumstances has been expressed by the thought that "The other man's grass is always greener". I believe that hot, dry conditions here would not be agreeable to many in UK (or Finland), just as very cold, wet, and inclement weather would not be enjoyed by people living here.
How many months is forage available for the bees in your locale?
 

Michael ECB's 

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List below of only some of the added additional vitamins, minerals & amino acids to my "Home Made" pollen substitute... (After Base Soya & yeasts)
This excludes the brewers yeast packs, bakers yeast, extruded soya, pollard etc etc etc...
Protein starts off at 56% and ends up a good strong 46% once done...
Granted, final cost per kg will deter most if not all...:censored: But I'm having fun with it and had to buy some of the ingredients in bulk....

Still a ways off but not too far I believe... Long term results is what I need to see... Long term = proof in the pudding...

What I see as a positive sign is even though we have fresh natural pollens available, my bees are still diving into this stuff, doing backstroke in an effort to cover there entire bodies with fine particles... At one point I thought I may have poisoned them, some were spinning around in the powder as if stressed?. Turns out they were trying to get too the smaller particles as my mixture was still to course at that point.... Food blender sorted this out...

See below, Bee nutrition is no less complicated as any other stock animal feed, especially if you are wanting to give them the best opportunities to THRIVE!

Vitamins & Minerals
vitamin A
vitamin D3
vitamin E
vitamin K3
vitamin B1
vitamin B2
niacin
vitamin B6
folic acid
calcium pantothenate
biotin
vitamin B12
vitamin C
lecithin
carnitine
choline
Amino acids
lysine
methionine
alanine
arganine
aspartic acid
cystine
glutamic acid
glycine
histidine
isoleucine
phenylalanine
pro- line
serine
threonine
tryptophan
valine
tyrosine
leucine
 

Gilberdyke John 

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List below of only some of the added additional vitamins, minerals & amino acids to my "Home Made" pollen substitute... (After Base Soya & yeasts)
This excludes the brewers yeast packs, bakers yeast, extruded soya, pollard etc etc etc...
Protein starts off at 56% and ends up a good strong 46% once done...
Granted, final cost per kg will deter most if not all...:censored: But I'm having fun with it and had to buy some of the ingredients in bulk....

Still a ways off but not too far I believe... Long term results is what I need to see... Long term = proof in the pudding...

What I see as a positive sign is even though we have fresh natural pollens available, my bees are still diving into this stuff, doing backstroke in an effort to cover there entire bodies with fine particles... At one point I thought I may have poisoned them, some were spinning around in the powder as if stressed?. Turns out they were trying to get too the smaller particles as my mixture was still to course at that point.... Food blender sorted this out...

See below, Bee nutrition is no less complicated as any other stock animal feed, especially if you are wanting to give them the best opportunities to THRIVE!

Vitamins & Minerals
vitamin A
vitamin D3
vitamin E
vitamin K3
vitamin B1
vitamin B2
niacin
vitamin B6
folic acid
calcium pantothenate
biotin
vitamin B12
vitamin C
lecithin
carnitine
choline
Amino acids
lysine
methionine
alanine
arganine
aspartic acid
cystine
glutamic acid
glycine
histidine
isoleucine
phenylalanine
pro- line
serine
threonine
tryptophan
valine
tyrosine
leucine
How on earth did wild bees manage to survive millions of years without that witches brew?
 

Little_bees 

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How on earth did wild bees manage to survive millions of years without that witches brew?
They chose to colonise areas of natural forage. If forage became unavailable, e.g due to climatic conditions, the bees didn't survive in that particular environment.

Today's managed colonies have no choice where the beekeeper puts them. If they are put in a nutritional desert, they are either artificially fed or they die out.
 

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