Wednesday, December 26, 2007


"The point that I'd like to make really clear to beekeepers is that you're not managing white boxes - you're managing the livestock within those boxes. Protein is the key ingredient of feed.... Everything about bee foraging involved the economics of energy expenditure vs. energy gain. Even though a bee is able to fly for two, three, or more miles to reach flowers, the time and metabolic costs involved to traverse such distances may result in meager net returns. The most productive foraging is done within a half mile of the bee yard - an area of about a square mile."

the gist of the article found in the American Bee Journal - September 2007 - is that the feeding of bees during the long cold and usually non productive months is of utmost importance in order to KEEP the colony alive and ready for pollination activity come February/March when the blossoms are out and the farmers are looking to hire the bee keepers.

No brainer feeding means light fructose syrup in the spring to stimulate the queens to lay and heavy fructose syrup in the fall for winter stress, however feeding syrup to a colony without a pollen flow can be counter productive forcing bees to dig into their vitellogenin reserves which then increases protein stress.

Bees get their protein from a mixture of plant pollens, critical mix as amino acid compositions differ - pollen suppliment not substitute - one can either purchase an irradiated or ethylene oxidtreated pollen - dry formulated feed - as bees like sweet - sugar level at least 50% (dry weight), same fat or oil = lipids, antimicrobial and phagostimulatory qualities also improve the texture. Again, pollen supplement not substitute.

Why feed the colony - to build up colony populations 1. for pollination, splitting, 'shaking' bees (newly bought and introduced to the hive); 2. prior to a honey flow - to ensure maximum production; 3. to ensure that the generation of 'winter' bees has their vitellogenin reserves topped off especially important in dry summer areas if planning on pollination; 4. to prevent disease and minimize damage from varroa mites.

Feeding a weak colony just before bloom in an attempt to boost it strength is a waste but it may help to recover the colony's health before bloom.

Sharing the honey with the bees - taking a percentage off for 'store sale' as verse to taking it all - the 'leaving/sharing' gives the bee her own honey to feed on thus creating less need for outside intervention.


Health Benefits of Honey

Raw unfiltered honey is the key to ultimate nutrition. Raw honey is made
from the nectars of flowers. Worker bees gather the nectar and place it in
their honey sac where it mixes with acid secretions. Bees reduce the
moisture content from 40-80% to 18-20% before the cell is sealed and the
honey is complete.

Most processed honey today has been heated and filtered, robbing it of its
nutritional value and resulting in a product with little more than a simple
sweetener. Honey is an instant energy-building food containing all the
essential minerals necessary for life, all of the B complex group, amino
acids, enzymes, and other vital factors. Honey is virtually free of bacteria.

Raw honey contains up to 80 different substances important to human
nutrition. Besides glucose and fructose, honey contains: All of the
B-complex, A, C, D, E, and K, minerals and trace elements: magnesium,
sulfur, phosphorus, iron, calcium, chlorine, potassium, iodine, sodium,
copper, and manganese. The live enzyme content of honey is one of the
highest of all foods. Honey also contains hormones, and antimicrobial and
antibacterial factors.