New Resource on Feeding Bees – February 2024

NEW Resource on Feeding Bees

By Dr. Dewey Caron

Beekeepers now have a valuable resource at their fingertips with the release of the latest comprehensive Honey Bee Nutrition Guide from the Honey Bee Health Coalition. The guide is a review manual on everything you need to know, up-to-date bee nutrition and supplemental feeding of bee hives. It provides a simple approach to the complex and nuanced world of honey bee nutrition.

“Understanding honey bee nutrition is no simple task, given the intricate social structure and diverse needs within a colony,” said Dr. Priya Basu, formerly Postdoctoral researcher at OSU Bee lab and now Assistant Professor of Pollinator Health and Apiculture at Mississippi State University and the principal author of the Guide. “The Honey Bee Nutrition Guide addresses these challenges head-on, providing practical insights for beekeepers to navigate the seasonal variations and colony requirements effectively.”

Foragers, the scouts of the bee world, play a crucial role in sourcing floral resources such as pollen and nectar. In the absence of these natural resources, supplemental feeding becomes essential. The guide delves into the various considerations beekeepers must account for when deciding on supplemental feeding strategies, including forager ability to exit the hive, the colony’s brood status, seasonal nutritional needs and existing food reserves in the hives.

The guide also reviews the history of supplementing colonies with diets other than pollen. The guide highlights important advances from the earliest Amos Ives Root’s tests with various supplements in 1875, the foundational research by Mykola H. Haydak and the extensive research of Elton W. Herbert, Jr. (Note: Dr Herbert was my PhD student during University of Maryland days but tragically died prematurely as his research was in full swing at USDA, Beltsville.). The guide also emphasizes the importance of understanding the limitations of artificial supplements compared to the nutritional richness of natural pollen.

“With practical insights, historical context, and a focus on sustainability, the Honey Bee Nutrition Guide aims to empower beekeepers to make informed decisions for the well-being of their colonies,” said George Hansen of Foothills Honey Company and member of the guide’s review committee. “This essential resource will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of sustainable beekeeping practices.” Dr Ramesh Sagili was another review of the Guide.

The guide also includes a series of interviews with six commercial beekeepers who summarize what works for them when providing supplemental feeding to their honey bee colonies throughout the year, depending on their location and their beekeeping practices.

For a copy of the Honey Bee Nutrition Guide and more information, please visit Every OR MBer beekeeper should have a copy for their reference. NOTE: quotes of Dr Priya nd George Hansen from HBHC Press release announcing new Nutrition guide.