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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comparisons of Pollen Substitute Diets for Honey bees: Consumprion Rates by Colonies and Effects on Brood and Adult Populations

Authors
item Degrandi-Hoffman, Gloria
item Wardell, Gordon - S.A.F.E. R&D
item Ahumada-Secura, Fabiana - S.A.F.E. R&D
item Rinderer, Thomas
item Danka, Robert
item Pettis, Jeffery

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: July 11, 2008
Publication Date: November 20, 2008
Citation: Hoffman, G.D., Wardell, G., Ahumada-Secura, F., Rinderer, T.E., Danka, R.G., Pettis, J.S. 2008. Comparisons of Pollen Substitute Diets for Honey bees: Consumprion Rates by Colonies and Effects on Brood and Adult Populations. Journal of Apicultural Research 47:265-270.

Interpretive Summary: Honey bee colonies need pollen to rear brood and increase the size of their populations. When pollen from flowers is not available, beekeepers often feed pollen substitutes. We fed different commercial pollen substitutes (FeedBee, BeePro, and MegaBee in liquid and patty forms) to honey bee colonies to determine how they compared with natural pollen in their consumption rate. We also compared increases in brood areas and adult populations among colonies fed the different pollen substitutes and those fed either natural pollen or high fructose corn syrup. Two trials were conducted; the first for 4 months during the fall and winter and a second for 2 months in the summer. The availability of natural pollen or a substitute strongly influenced brood rearing. More than 80% of the colonies fed pollen substitute or natural pollen continued to rear brood throughout the study compared with only about 30% of those fed high fructose corn syrup. BeePro and MegaBee were consumed at equal rates to pollen, while significantly less FeedBee was consumed. In the first Trial when our diets were the only protein source available to the bees, the greatest increases in brood area and adult populations were in colonies fed MegaBee. In the second Trial, some pollen was being collected by the colonies and brood areas and adult populations increased similarly in those fed BeePro, MegaBee or pollen.

Technical Abstract: Commercially available pollen substitute diets for honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) were evaluated for consumption and colony growth (brood and adult populations) and compared with pollen cake and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Two trials were conducted; the first for 4 months during the fall and winter and a second for 2 months in the summer. The diets tested were FeedBee, BeePro, and MegaBee (liquid and patty form) in Trial-1 and BeePro and MegaBee in Trial-2. In both Trials, BeePro and MegaBee patty were consumed at rates that were comparable to pollen cake. Colonies consumed significantly less FeedBee than the other diets. There was a significant relationship between the amount of diet consumed and the change in brood area and adult population size in both Trials. Colonies fed MegaBee patty produced significantly more brood than those fed pollen cake or any other diet in Trial-1. The lowest brood production occurred in colonies fed FeedBee or HFCS. Adult populations in colonies fed MegaBee liquid or patty did not differ from those fed pollen cake, and were significantly larger than colonies fed BeePro or FeedBee. In Trial-2, when some pollen was being collected by colonies BeePro and MegaBee did not differ from pollen cake in brood or adult population growth.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014