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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comparisons of pollen substitute diets for honey bees: consumption rates by colonies and effects on brood and adult populations.

item Degrandi-hoffman, Gloria
item Wardell, Gordon
item Ahumada-segura, Fabiana
item Rinderer, Thomas
item Danka, Robert - Bob
item Pettis, Jeff

Submitted to: Journal of Apicultural Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2008
Publication Date: 12/1/2008
Citation: Degrandi-Hoffman, G., Wardell, G., Ahumada-Segura, F., Rinderer, T.E., Danka, R.G., Pettis, J. 2008. Comparisons of pollen substitute diets for honey bees: consumption rates by colonies and effects on brood and adult populations. Journal of Apicultural Research 47(4):265-270

Interpretive Summary: An important part of commercial beekeeping is the rental of bees for pollination. Almond pollination presents special difficulties since it occurs in mid-February when honey bee colonies tend to be at their smallest. Yet, large colonies are required. One way to produce larger colonies is to feed them, especially with protein food which is naturally lacking in January and February. A comparison of four commercial diets showed that two of them were eaten by bees and supported the production of brood which increased the size of colonies; however, one of these feeds supported the production of significantly larger colonies. This food, MegaBee feed, is the product of ARS research.

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 3 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 patty 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 1, 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: 10/19/2017
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