Questions for Bjorn concerning Pollen

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by tecumseh, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I have had some fairly new beekeeper ask me about pollen substitutes/supplements* and I know that Bjorn looked into this question fairly throughly sometime back. There are really two question I would like to pose and anyone with any experience in regards to either I will greatly appreciate you time and input.

    1) of those commercially available products is there any one product that is superior to the rest? or perhaps more importantly is there any product which is really so inferior that you would avoid the product entirely?

    2) in regards to pollen quality**... is there any natural sources of pollen who's quality is so extremely low that you would suggest some pollen supplementation would be worthwhile?

    *I have fed both commercial produced pollen patties and home made patties here but have decided that pollen is generally never the resource which limits hive growth here.

    **we do know there are some pollen collected by bees which are poisonous, so I am guessing there are also natural available pollen that have very low crude protein levels or don't contain anywhere near the essential amino acids necessary for the diet of the honeybee.
     
  2. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Tec,
    As to #1, I stopped promoting one, or bashing another, as it usually just made me more enemies. I will say, that most pollen supplements on the market today, are without real pollen, after the tainted pollen was pulled a couple years ago. As I have documented, I was burned twice by big suppliers selling bad pollen from China.

    I continue to push the industry to demand.....

    1) Proper disclosure of the ingredients in the supplements.

    2) assurances of quality by having nutrition listed.

    DeGroot over fifty years ago profiled the proper levels of such items as essential amino acids needed by bees to ensure proper breakdown and digestion of proteins. Without those proper levels, your wasting your money.

    I will gladly promote and advocate any supplier that would openly disclose those two key points. As it is now, I have not seen any willing to do this.

    As it is now, almost all products are marketed on such items as "how fast bees consume one type supplement over another", which mostly comes down to how much sugar is added. Which for some, may account for 50-70% of the mix. And that is expensive feed!

    In regards to #2, this is an area that the bee industry needs to study. We know that anytime the protein levels go below a certain level, either by the actual protein level being low, or the factoring of missing essential amino acids, that bees are actually dieting instead of building. And low protein levels fed to brood, shorten their lifespan by as much as one half.

    Corn and Pine are two pollens we know are poor. I think if the industry actually knew how poor some crop pollens actually were, it would change the attitudes of some beekeepers running to place bees on certain crops.

    Australia over twenty years ago, spent the effort documenting which major pollen plants were good and which bad. This allows them to augment feed based on time of year, plants in the area, etc. The U.S. lags far behind in such efforts.

    I would suggest to any beekeeper, to make a few phone calls and ask for certain information on supplements. If enough start doing this, maybe someone will make the effort and realize it's time to stop selling products in unlabeled brown paper bags, and quit assuming beekeepers are completely ignorant on these issues.

    Tainted pollen in supplements was a problem. Now we need to make sure that the nutritional basis of the products is worth feeding the bees.

    As most supplements are to be used short term, I think anything out there would probably help....if actually needed.

    Most are brewers yeast based, with this or that added to make the feed more palatable.

    Many are now suggesting that augment feeding while bees are pollinating feild crops would be well worth the effort. There are comments about "watering down" potential tainted crop pollen with supplement feeds, thus limiting risk with chemicals. So knowing you are getting a good supplement today is more important than ever.

    I am making an effort to limit apiaries with exposure to feild corn and soybeans. Both are about 95% in the amount of seed being pretreated. Not usually a crop bees work for pollen, but if they need it, they will collect it. So this is where supplements may actually be a real benefit beyond it being used for early splits, etc.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    :goodpost:

    I have not studied any of the products, but Global pollen patties, out of Canada, has received good reviews from the folks who have used it. I haven't heard any bad reviews on it other than SHB love it and will use it for a breeding ground.
     
  4. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Bjorn, i truck farm and for years planted sweet corn (3 acres) within 200 ft. of my hives, one field is 10ft. from one bee yard and when it puts on a tassel my bees are all over it (usually in july) the pollen like you said is probably not that great,but i was wondering if the sweet corn pollen would be better than the field corn because of the sugar content in sweet corn? I make a pollen pattie using brewers yeast,sugar and essential oils, and i found that if you feed two or three smaller patties on top of the frames instead of one big one the SHB isn't a problem, but you do have to open the hive up more to feed more patties. Jack
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks a bunch for the detail bjorn. I really do appreciate the time that required.

    I also read 'fat bee, skinny bee' out of australia and that was the first time I became alerted to the possible problem of quality in regards to pollen sources.

    like jack I have found small patties work best anywhere you might have small hive beetles. add more sugar and they consume them even quicker. thanks for your comments jack.

    I suspect (don't really know, guessin' for sure) that the more diversity you may have in pollen resources the less this resource should limit growth and health.