July 29, 2014 at 6:11 pm #8922
I started a TBH hive 3 weeks ago, everything is going well. I am not sure if I should be feeding them pollen along with syrup. I am already feeding syrup. I am just worried that seeing they had a late start they may need some extra helpJuly 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #8923
Hi, Steve—you may have missed this earlier post about the wisdom of feeding syrup. So, I will re-post it for everyone. One of the problems associated with sugar/HFCS is the pH alters the gut environment, thereby disrupting the gut bacteria that foster good immune system health in the honeybee. Honey is pH about 4.6 and syrup is 7.0 or more alkaline. When there is NO OTHER choice and you must prevent starvation, of course you may have to rely on it. But bees natural food is honey, and feeding inside the hive with a baggie feeder on the floor for a TBH is much better for establishing the colony health. Natural pollen should also be used over soy-based pollen substitutes. Here is the link to the study on syrup/HFCS—
Beekeepers often feed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or sucrose after harvesting honey or during periods of nectar dearth. We report that, relative to honey, chronic feeding of either of these two alternative carbohydrate sources elicited hundreds of differences in gene expression in the fat body, a peripheral nutrient-sensing tissue analogous to vertebrate liver and adipose tissues. These expression differences included genes involved in protein metabolism and oxidation-reduction, including some involved in tyrosine and phenylalanine metabolism. Differences between HFCS and sucrose diets were much more subtle and included a few genes involved in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Our results suggest that bees receive nutritional components from honey that are not provided by alternative food sources widely used in apiculture.July 30, 2014 at 4:04 pm #8927
Steve, first of all, the issue of feeding syrup. While it’s true as Susan says that High Fructose Corn Syrup is generally regarded in this beekeeping community as an unhealthy practice under any conditions, it is important to recognize that feeding sugar syrup is a very widely accepted practice in getting bees started out and stimulating them to build comb. Sugar syrup is less desirable than honey because of the reasons Susan expresses above, but there are a ton of beekeepers that use sugar as a temporary measure, including Michael Bush, much as if you were seriously dehydrated you might drink a special drink, or be put in the hospital on IV glucose. No one would suggest that you stay on IV glucose forever! Just until you have enough to get back to a normal lifestyle, which for bees is foraging for nectar and pollen. It would be a mistake to keep your bees on “Feed” all the time!
About feeding pollen: it is food which is mixed with honey to make “beebread”, a very important protein source for the queen and for the brood. Its also usually abundant in southern california until about October. If you want to be 100 per cent sure, you can buy some pollen and make pollen patties, but if there is pollen to forage they will collect it without hesitation.
The other thing I want to tell you is to be sure to keep your TBH closely monitored to confirm that the comb the bees are building is straight and not crossing between bars. With a brand new hive this might easily require weekly inspections. Hopefully that will be possible for you, at least in the beginning.As soon as you have one straight comb, you can move it over one more bar into the
interior of the hive to keep them straight going forward.
Good luck with your new bees!July 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm #8928
Thank you very much Ruth, you gave me the exact information I needed. My plan is only to feed temporarily until I start to to see brood hatching and young bees taking over. I started the colony with a small swarm and had trouble at first keeping them in the hive, I had to recapture the swarm a couple of times, so they had a slow start. I have about 4 bars of brood, the brood comb only goes about halfway across the bar and about 8 inches long, but is growing everyday, so everyone is working hard. I just want to make sure they have what they need. I live next to the foothills and there is a lot of native and landscaped plant life around
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