Swarm has a lack of pollen

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Queen Bee
Nov 8, 2008
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Finland, Helsinki
Hive Type
Last summer I noticed that the swarm has no pollen stores during first days.
I gave pollen patty and it ate it with pleasure. - Where it needed it? I has no larvae?

First idea is that the swarm has very young bees which need pollen.
Second is that it draw comb quickly and wax exrecetion demands much protein.
I noticed too that old queen does not start at once to lay. It waits about 3 days. Is it lack of pollen or what or does it wait that combs are ready enough?

Well what then? - If you have extra pollen frame, give it to false swarm or to genuine swarm when you set it into foundation box. It helps to draw foundations sooner,
- I suppose. At least look what happens.


Further more, I had crystallized honey combs. I gave 3 crystallized combs in the middel of combs and the rest were foundations. Bees cleaned hard honey very soon and drew up foundations.

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Thats a very interesting post Finman.
I would of assumed that nature takes care of a swarm enough to cope with lack of protein but things have changed and nature often needs a helping hand.
nature often needs a helping hand.

Surely the swarm know what to do.

Once I picked a 5 kg swarm from a chimney. It had been there 7 days.
However it had no combs there. It was easy to take. That week was rainy and all nectar what it collected it went to satisfy the hunger.
Before a swarm leaves its home hive the bee's normally stop feeding the queen for egg laying,so she is small.like a virgin again to fly with the swarm,so it takes several days that the bee's are feeding the queen to make her fat again to resume egg laying,many swarm queens are replaced by supercedure soon after they build there new home.
Interesting. What is the pollen content of eggs? Must be quite high. Guess the queen at least will need to be fed protein after all bees can't store that can they?
Young bee's store fat in winter,there is no pollen in eggs,the larvae are fed pollen.
Hi Hivemaker,
Hivemaker. Young bee's store fat in winter,there is no pollen in eggs,the larvae are fed pollen.

How do they store fat in winter when the have access to stored pollen?

Regards; Bcrazy
I was under the illusion that young bee's born in autumn store extra fat than the summer bee's,is this not the case?
You are perfectly correct when you say winter bees store fat and summer bees do not.

I just wondered if you knew why and how they store the fat globules.

There is so much we need to try to understand about the honey bee and unfortunately there is a multitude of books for collecting information. Also a lot of word of mouth is so misleading as if you ask 6 beekeepers one question you will get 7 answers.

Regards; Bcrazy:)
Thank you Bcrazy, no i have no idea how, and why they do this,i would think so, in cold weather perhaps they do not have to break cluster and move to fresh pollen areas,when its prolonged cold. If you know the answers or have a good idea of the how and why,i would like very much like to hear them.
What I was wondering about was that if a swarm doesn't have much pollen, and pollen is the queen's main source of protein (and protein is a major consituent of eggs), then would this lack of pollen affect the queen and slow down her laying?:confused:
Pollen is the main food for brood,not what eggs are made of,and any time of year when bee's are not bringing in pollen,queens may slow down there laying,or stop.This is what has been happening with the bad summers we have been having.With most swarm queens the bee's have stopped feeding the queen for egg laying ,so she can fly,they then take time to feed her back up for egg laying.
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THAT IS INTERESTING......Accepted 22 march 2007

Hather Mattila is quite famous bee researcher.

3. Colonies with extended pollen supply produced more workers throughout autumn than colonies with less pollen, but the development of the population of long-lived winter bees was delayed until relatively later in autumn. Colonies produced similar numbers of winter bees, regardless of the timing of the disappearance of pollen resources.

Read more http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118504594/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Influence of Protein Surplus and Deficit on Worker Bees and Their Colonies
Heather Mattila (PhD Student, Environmental Biology) and Gard Otis

My first two years of graduate work have concentrated on the influence of protein availability on the ability of honey bees to overwinter. Brood rearing ceases in colonies in late fall and the workers produced at this time are long-lived "winter" bees that cluster within the colony from late fall to spring. Winter bees are characterised by hypertrophied fat bodies and hypopharyngeal glands, which are two major locations of internal protein storage. Aside from internal worker reserves, protein is also stored externally as pollen in the honey comb. Over the winter, bees utilise these resources to provide protein for the nutrition of developing larvae. A colony must begin rearing young replacement bees in late winter in order to build colony strength for the spring, long before adequate pollen foraging conditions exist. When fall or spring pollen supply is limited, protein-starved colonies will have to compromise the quality and/or quantity of the workers that are produced for and by the overwintering population. Previous studies have demonstrated that protein status plays an important role in the ability of colonies to overwinter, but the influence of protein availability on the development of the overwintering population and the spring population that it produces remains poorly understood.

In my first field season, I examined the trade-offs made in the production of spring workers by overwintered colonies that were pollen-stressed (low pollen) or pollen-rich (high pollen) prior to spring foraging. I estimated both the quantity (area of sealed brood) and the quality (weight, size, asymmetry, total protein content, longevity and nursing behaviour) of workers reared by these colonies in the spring, as well as honey production in the following summer. Colonies that had pollen supplements in early spring produced two to four times more brood than control and pollen restricted colonies, respectively, and only supplemented colonies reared brood in significant amounts before natural pollen foraging began (Figure 1). Although treatment did not affect weight, size or asymmetry of workers, worker longevity was significantly affected: workers reared in pollen-rich colonies lived an average of 15 days longer than workers reared in pollen-stressed colonies. The survival curves (Figure 2) show that, in general, a greater proportion of bees reared under high pollen conditions were present in the observation hive than bees from control or low pollen colonies. Longevity increased even when workers experienced a common environment as an adult, which means that differences were due to rearing conditions alone. Colonies were unable to maintain worker quality at the expense of quantity, or vice versa, but instead experienced a reduction in both. The earlier and increased rate of rearing also translated into higher honey yields by mid-summer, when pollen-rich colonies produced two times more honey than pollen-stressed colonies. There was no difference in the early behaviour of the bees, but the data suggest that workers from pollen-rich colonies spend more time performing in-hive duties before moving to outside tasks such as foraging. I am currently exploring these possible differences in age-related behaviour.

The research that I am presently conducting is focused on establishing a comprehensive understanding of the effect of pollen availability on the size and timing of development of winter and spring populations by following worker survivorship in pollen-manipulated colonies. This study also includes quality and quantity comparisons for the fall-produced winter population. I am conducting a complementary fall study with marked workers in observation hives to determine the effects of fall pollen availability on nursing and foraging, two critical tasks that workers perform.