Introducing: Bee Nectar - A blog by Tamsin Harris
Whilst working at a Honey Show in Athens in 2019 I met a lovely Greek family who ran a beekeeping supplies business in Greece. They very kindly gave me box of Bee Nectar to try on my colonies in the Spring, with the promise that I would be amazed at the results.
Up to that point I had only once or twice used pollen substitute patties (Ultra Bee) on a few of my colonies. My clifftop apiary sometimes suffers with lack of pollen in the Spring if we have strong, damp south westerlies and I was pleased with how the bees took it down. To be honest, I thought they'd ignore it.
I had a number of overwintered nucs that I had been keeping topped up with fondant but I wanted to move them on fairly early in the season. During a conversation with Patrick, I mentioned that I had this new product and asked his advice on how best to use it. He said that his regime always involved putting pollen sub patties on the colonies on the 1st March (in Kent). Down here, in Cornwall, the bees had been fairly busy through late February so I put 1/3 of a pack on each nuc and on colonies in a couple of my more exposed apiaries.
I was astounded with the results, it was like inspecting completely different colonies just two week later. The brood pattern was very uniform, hardly any missed cells and the rate the queen had been laying had increased tremendously. The sealed brood cells covered complete frames and the new foundation was drawn very evenly. I know we had some lovely weather in early Spring this year but what I was seeing in my colonies was not just the result of some sunshine.
The colonies that I had fed the Bee Nectar were way ahead in development and size than colonies in other apiaries and went on to give me above average honey yields. I attributed this to the healthy boost in numbers of bees early in the year which allowed the colonies to get ahead at a time when young bees and brood out-number foraging bees. This is quite a crucial time in a colony's development, when the queen is beginning to lay a lot more eggs and all those larvae need to be fed a good quality and good quantity of brood food. The overwintered foraging bees are dying off but the larvae still need to be fed and foraging may be curtailed due to inclement weather - a tricky time for the colony.
Ensuring that the best quality pollen and nectar substitutes are readily available certainly makes a difference to the colony, I would rather they were looking at it, than for it!
Bee Nectar will be given to my overwintered nucs and all my full colonies towards the end of February or early March in 2021 and I know I will be delighted with the build up of plenty of healthy colonies.Tamsin Harris