Dr. Clarence Collison – Bee Nutrition & Feeding

Dr. Clarence Collison - Bee Nutrition & Feeding



hopefully I've helped you begin to understand how important this this topic of honeybee nutrition is as I've pointed out to you nutrition is involved in the determination of the female casts whether it'll be a queen or a worker we tried to point out to you that the Queen's diet is very specialized and changes with age and development and when we look at the actual diet of the bees we see that there are three major components pollen or a protein source nectar or honey or a carbohydrate source and water colony development and reproduction is dependent on the protein source I didn't get a chance to talk about it but it affects the production of vital Jenin it's involved in the storage of nutrients in fat bodies within the bees protein is extremely important in the development of the hypo pharyngeal glands or the brood food glands or the production of of royal worker and drone jelly you probably don't think about water as being a vital component to the nutrition of the bee but it is when you think of water you think about air-conditioning bees go out and collect water to air-conditioned the hive to regulate the temperature but it's also important in their diets it carries dissolved materials to all parts of their body within the the blood or hemolymph of a bee it assists in the removal of waste products from the bee and it's involved in digesting and metabolizing of their food nectar is their carbohydrate source here we see the a picture of a cucumber neck tree this is actually in a female or pistol a cucumber flower the nectary is cup-shaped as you see here and you can see the accumulation and nectar below the the stigmatic surface of the female flower the carbohydrate source is their energy source so in order to for them to produce heat in the winter cluster in order for them to fly in order for them to raise brood they have to have a source of energy and that energy comes from either nectar or the product honey or sugar syrup or sugar candy that you might feed your bees pollen is extremely important in colony development let me go back and make a point that this will probably be made later but I may not get to it if a colony is starving survival comes from a carbohydrate source whether it be sugar nectar or honey all right they can have and I'm just I'm gonna be facetious here they could have a ton of pollen in a hive but if they do not have a carbohydrate source of food that you're gonna die okay so survival is related to carbohydrates whereas reproduction growth development egg production are all related to proteins and those proteins are derived primarily from pollen pollen provides proteins amino acids amino acids are the building blocks of proteins okay they're the building blocks of proteins minerals vitamins facts and sterols all come from pollen so together honey + pollen gives them a complete balanced diet what you need to realize it that now all pollens are not nutritionally alike the protein content of pollens can vary anywhere from 10 to 36% bees generally collect and utilize a variety of pollens and this is extremely important let me give you one example dandelion pollen lacks in two essential amino acids so if I took dandelion pollen and I fed a colony nothing but dandelion pollen and they didn't have access to any other protein source reproduction was stopped reproduction would fail so this this buffet of different types of pollens is extremely important in the development and reproduction of a colony when we think of pollen we think of that pollen pellet on the hind legs was it in the last picture that pollen pellet on the hind legs that the bees have gone out and collected but you need to realize that bees collect a lot of wind-borne pollens pollens associated with grasses pollens associated with ragweed pollen associated with corn and those to the bees even though there are quantity of pollen nutritionally is very very poor okay so it's it's the pollen from the floral sources that are our most important as we said many individual pollens are nutritionally inadequate lacking in certain amino acids required by bees there's a there's some 20-plus amino acids ten of them are essential in order for bees to reproduce now I don't expect you to remember this but just so you realize this is the list of the ten amino acids that are absolutely necessary in order to have reproduction and bee development as I indicated like dandelion many pollens lack in some of these and that's why it's important that we have a mixture of pollens coming from many different sources so that within the colony all ten of these will be present sugars are important part of the bees diet we've got sucrose glucose and fructose when nectar and pollen are not available the bees go and when weather permits the bees will go out and collect other things that probably are not nutritionally of any value to the bees but they just have that hoarding instinct that that foraging instinct I didn't throw a picture in in this particular presentation but they love to rob my bird feeder bird seed is of no value to them but they will work my bird feeder all day long they'll collect juices from rotting fruits under trees they'll collect honeydew honeydew is a product similar to nectar however it's produced by plants sucking insects such as leaf hoppers scale insects a fidelity they stick their proboscis and the aphid or the the plant sucking insect sticks their provisos into the vascular system of the plant and take on all of this juice it's moving through the vascular system of the plant and they can't handle it and so most of it comes right out the other end Athens have two little tailpipes and that's where the excess goes so you park under a tree and you come out later and your windows windshields all gummed up with sticky material they're probably a high population of plant sucking insects up there that are releasing all this honeydew in the absence of a good nectar source the bees will collect it it's and they will make it into honey or so called we'll call it honeydew honey chemically it's different than regular honey it's not considered to be a good winner includes source but they will collect it if there's nothing else available in Europe there are certain areas of Europe where people prize getting honeydew honey and yet they get a great price for it for it but we don't have such a market here that I'm aware of they'll physik animal grain manger zand and coal dust and caulking from windows etc I think from the first presentation tonight it should become evident that extended brood rearing is not possible unless pollen or an appropriate source of protein and vitamins are available as we said they can live on pure carbohydrates for extended period of time but they cannot use pollen as an energy source just to give you an idea of how much of these products are necessary in the life of a colony it takes a pound of pollen to produce about a thousand bees and so the estimates are 150 to 175 pounds of honey are needed for maximum reproduction in a hive over the course of the year then as beekeepers we want another 75 100 or 125 pounds okay man it's hard to believe that stack of boxes and all that raw product is going through there what they need is plus what we think we need okay pollen takes about a pound of pollen to produce 4500 bees and so we're talking about another hundred pounds of product that's going to required each season adult Queens obtain protein from royal jelly that's fed to them by nurse bees throughout their egg-laying life adult workers obtain their protein from from pollen and it's necessary for the development of the hypopharyngeal or the brood food glands as we will point out here in just a minute the drones well they get their pollen from food that's supplied by young nurse bees they go around begging and that's how they they get their protein source this is the important aspect of it if young workers do not consume needed proteins the brood food glands will not develop completely in other words all those little aski or all those little bunches of grapes as it looks like not all of those will develop their royal jelly will not support normal growth and development of larvae and will not support egg production in the Queen not only do they need a source of protein these young nurse bees also need a good source of vitamins and minerals as well vital Jenin is the main storage protein in honey bee hemolymph I didn't talk about it last time I skipped over it because we're running out of time bye tallow Jenin is produced by the fat bodies of the bee it's stored it's stored protein in their bodies in the form of fat bodies I got a lot of stored okay if I tell Jenna is also all these eggs that are developing in the Oh various receive by dental genin that's their nourishment and in order to have complete egg development as well so this is you can see how important protein is I'm cookie I'm just gonna jump ahead here just a little bit there's a picture of royal jelly or queen jelly as we talked about earlier when pollen is packed in the cells the field becomes in and she backs into a cell and with the spines on her legs she kicks his kicks those pellets off and you can see kind of loose pellets right here in this particular slide now in forming that pellet she adds some nectar she probably adds some products from exocrine glands but we don't know totally what that might be at this particular time and then the bees come along and Ram it with their heads and they pack it tight in the cell when that cell is about two-thirds full then they will put a small layer of honey on top of it now after that cell is packed and the airs the excess airs pushed out and the honey and the other possible secretions are added then that honey will begin to ferment okay and that's what forms bee bread what we're saying is it keeps the pollen from spoiling it also keeps the pollen or begins pre-digestion of the pollen is what I want to say and they're finding now now that some of the products that's secreted by the bees and mixed in the pollen contains various forms of lactic bacteria all right and so we sometimes refer to this as lactic fermentation but it's part of pre-digestion it's part of keeping the product pure for the bees the last article in american b journal by randy oliver talks some he went back to look at bee bread and he said in the next issue he's going to relay some new findings so I kept hoping I kept hoping my issue would arrive before I left it didn't so what I'm say to you look at your next American B journal and maybe we'll have some new findings the better understanding in the formation of bee bread anytime there's less than three free three full frames of honey in a colony they should be fed when you're taking your honey off I like to recommend that you always leave one full super of honey because you don't know what the rest of season is going to turn out to be okay you know what feeding is expensive feeding is laborious now you can be greedy and you may end up paying for it or you can leave adequate food for the bees so you won't have to feed do not feed brown sugar or molasses honey is good as long as you're absolutely sure that it's free of disease never buy honey to feed bees you have no idea what's in it alright I'm not just about out of time but I'm going to give you just a recipe a recipe for the making of sugar candy there are lots of recipes out there this will be just one in case you have colonies that that need food to get to the winter all right 15 pounds of sugar 3 pounds of glucose or white corn syrup 4 cups of water and a half a teaspoon of cream of tartar you need to use a candy thermometer if you make Christmas candy and you cook it too long it's so hard that it nearly breaks your teeth if you don't cook it enough it's so sticky you can get it off your teeth so to get the right consistency for the bees it's important that you use a candy thermometer and what we do is we heat this mixture to 242 degrees then we remove it from the heat source and we begin to stir it and beat it until it thickens and I like to just use a disposable aluminum pie tin put in a sheet of wax paper pour the mixture in once it solidifies then it's just a matter of flipping it over right above the cluster of the bees and it gives them a good source of food that does not contain too much moisture so you won't have problems with dysentery and normally what you do is just put an empty hive body there and then the lid above that you could put newspaper over it you could put a burlap bag over it or something – again if I was talking about wintering one point that I would make to you is bees do not heat the entire hive they heat only the area of the cluster but some of that heat escapes and so putting some insulation newspaper burlap or something over this sugar piece of molded sugar fondant why that will help conserve some of that heat energy hopefully I've given you something to think about tonight something that you can use in your beekeeping operation it's been a pleasure being here I want to wish each of you the best of luck and in your beekeeping operations

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11 thoughts on “Dr. Clarence Collison – Bee Nutrition & Feeding

  1. He talks about nutrition and bee health but still mentions sugar water. That is not a natural part of the bees diet, look what sugar has done for man “obesity” and poor health. The bee will never have true health until people stop feeding sugar water and just leave more of their honey for them to over winter with rather than take it all for our consumption and give the bees sugar water. The bees will find all those amino acids thats why they travel for miles to forage and find it on their own when they need it and not when we think they need it.

  2. a whole lot of research and great presentation…..
    but I have no control over pollen amino acids and nectar…..
    So most of this is of absolutely useless

  3. I too would like to hear from Dr. Collison on the subject of pH of syrup feeds as this is a question that comes up again and again in bee club discussions. Does he recommend doing anything to cane sugar syrup to alter the pH or nutritional profile?

  4. Very informative, thank you!
    My question is a replacement for sugar lower in ph, if you know of any suitable?
    Honey having a ph of 4, sugar at 6, lower ph being healthier.
    Sugar may be the easiest/ cheapest ingredient, just thought I'd ask.

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