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pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 2:46 pm
by karen
My bee club has an email list and someone wrote today that their bottom box of 10 deep frames is almost entirely filled with pollen. Another wrote back saying that's OK they will need it for winter. This got me thinking about how much pollen they actually need and how many deep frames it would fill.

Deep foundation 8 ½ X 16 ¾ is 142 square inches, for both sides 284 square inches.
According to DR. Dale Hill a hive needs 500 - 600 square inches of pollen for winter/early spring brood rearing. Dr Hill is from Quincy, Illinois which according to climate data has around 8 weeks of cold, no fresh pollen coming in. I assume he is talking about his part of the world.
500 - 600 square inches of pollen is around 2 deep frames,. So according to Dr Hill they use about 1 frame a month for the months no pollen is coming in.
Where I live there is no fresh pollen for 27 weeks, 19 weeks longer than Quincy, Illinois.
Because my bees are not raising brood for all the 27 weeks of no fresh pollen I figuire my bees need around 5 frames of pollen.

Interesting facts about bees and pollen are:
It takes 1 LB of pollen to raise 4,000 bees.
The average hive raises 200,000 bees a year so 50 lbs of pollen is needed.

Allen, you probably have this figured so tell me how much pollen does a hive need to get through the winter? Then again it depends on the strength of the hive and all that, but in general......

It's a rainy day, I have time on my hands.

What I think about the email is this guys bees are pollen hoarding and they are taking up the brood nest area with pollen. Where will the queen lay? The advice is bad, is not OK, frost is still 7 weeks away.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 2:58 pm
by Allen Dick
Actually, bees don't need pollen for wintering. They need it for raising bees at the end of winter.

The ideal situation is to have the bees on brood below frames of pollen in brood combs that are covered with honey and sealed. In the early winter, the bees have mostly honey, but by the time they need it, they are eating into pollen frames. Without pollen, the colony will not build up.

As for how much, pollen varies in quality and as you say, regions differ in when the early pollen comes and whether it is much use to the bees.

I know that years ago, Northern Alberta beekeepers had so much pollen in the fall after the bees were gassed and they were making up the next year's brood chambers for spring packages that they could not find empty brood combs for the middle of brood chambers and they would trade for empty combs from the south where there was much less pollen. Win/win.

Bees will ignore pollen patties all winter, but eat them when brood rearing ramps up.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 4:20 pm
by karen
Yes, I know it is only for brood rearing which starts at different times depending on where you live. I was just thinking about how much pollen it takes to come out of winter with a good cluster of bees.

I put pollen patties on at the start of March here. They don't seem use a lot of it if I put them on sooner. I assume it is because there is enough pollen through January and February in the hive. My area is not lacking for good fall pollen sources. I think it can be generalized that if you have one frame of pollen for every month there is no fresh pollen most hives have enough pollen for build up. More being used in March than in January, but it equals out.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 4:31 pm
by karen
I see I stated something wrong. I wrote "Because my bees are not raising brood for all the 27 weeks of no fresh pollen I figuire my bees need around 5 frames of pollen."
They are raising brood, just not bringing fresh pollen. So 5 frames should be good, though I do give pollen patties late winter.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 5:13 pm
by Allen Dick
Five good frames should be a good supply for the average hive as long as it is good pollen. More is better as long as it does not impede the queen. A lot of pollen in hives can be poor quality or have been left uncovered -- or come from boxes in storage over years. Bee bread does keep fairly well, but is probably not much good after a year or two. Bees will just tear it out and drop it to the floor.

Pollen will be ignored, too, until and unless it is within about two inches of the brood in cool weather in the early season. In strong colonies in summer, the nurse bees venture much further and the location is much less important.

Frames of Brood?

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 5:17 pm
by Allen Dick
I should also comment on the common use of the terms, "Frame of brood", and "Frame of pollen". Usually, what is being described is frame with pollen or frame with brood.

If you buy a jug of milk, you don't expect a jug a third or half full of milk.

Does anyone really know how that measures out? I prefer square inches as this is less open to misunderstanding -- or misrepresentation.

When I hear of five-frame nucs with three frames of brood, I wonder, "Is that three frames wood to wood or three frames with a little patch of brood in the middle?" The difference is about threefold -- or more.

I also wonder what stage the brood is at. Three full frames of emerging brood and a young laying queen is going to be a much better deal than three frames with patches of mostly open or freshly capped brood.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 5:30 pm
by karen
So I had thought, bees move nectar, do they move pollen or bee bread? Would this guys bees open up the area they have hoarded pollen in. He didn't say if it was still fresh pellets or bee bread.

I have never noticed them moving pollen, I have seen them throwing it out of a hive. I have a hive doing that now, I assumed it was old when I saw it at the entrance. It looked dry.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 24th, 2017, 6:42 pm
by Allen Dick
I can't imagine the bees moving bee bread. My understanding is that they liquefy it to consume it.

If it is in the bottom box of a double brood chamber hive at this time of year one would wonder what the queen is doing. Anything? Did they crowd the hive so the second is plugged?

Too hard to guess. Usually a brood chamber plugged with pollen happens at the end of season after the queen reduces laying.

Reversing to put the pollen above for winter and wintering in doubles is one solution.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 26th, 2017, 4:45 pm
by Biermann

I don't know how much this is off topic, but I post it anyway and can move it to a new thread if needed.

Normally, I run 2 brood boxes, and two supers without queen excluders. My theory is that if the queen needs room to lay, she can go up if she has to and can't if I have a barrier between. I have had brood in S1 and got panicky when I started not knowing what to do or make from it. Now I just move the honey frames with brood to the side and next time around they are filled with honey.

Anyway, I noticed pollen around the center of three inner frames of S1 during my last inspection and was wondering if the worker bees preparing the frames for the queen to lay in but she want be able to do so. Also, I have some bearding on this hive and normally that is a sign that the supers are full and ready to extract or add a new super, but the supers on this hive are not full.


Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 27th, 2017, 4:21 pm
by eltalia
G'day Joerg.
What you are seeing in those pollen stores is an extension of what is being discussed in the thread, in that bees will store pollen around a "brood patch" in times of plenty, and when a queen slows in laying.
There is a loose symmetry between "eggs per day" and "pollen micrograms per egg"... if you like. In excuberant laying periods bees may struggle to have enough pollen to feed and so a lag in laying occurs wherein the pollen available then becomes excessive and so they store it.
A mutual wax and wane, pollen stores or lack of are indicators of colony health when fluxing around a well set laying queen.

For mine observation I reckon the quote Karen reports;
"someone wrote today that their bottom box of 10 deep frames is almost entirely filled with pollen. "
... is indication that colony is in trouble. A full inspection would be in order
and the colony placed under close observation.

And, you do not say Joerg what size boxes your brood chambers are set around?
As some guide there are formulas for max sq.area for colonies out to 100,000 bees. For the majority of colonys, 2 deep boxes as brood chambers is ample. Provide more and you will find what you report where
the brood patch "cones" up through the core (in 3 D) of the hive body;
"I have had brood in S1 and got panicky when I started not knowing what to do or make from it".

Placing an excluder before S1 in the stack will not just deny vertical coning of the brood patch but also allow you to manage a 'tighter' brood patch in moving frames at position #1 and #9 up above the excluder as they fill with honey.
In time that manipulation sees the brood patch extend throughout the whole of the brood chamber as a solid block of brood at all stages of development.



Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 27th, 2017, 6:25 pm
by Allen Dick
Good comments.
I maybe should have mentioned that queenless colonies tend to accumulate a lot of pollen.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 28th, 2017, 8:40 am
by Biermann
Sorry Bill, did not give the needed info: 2 deep brood, 2 deep Supers, excluder between B2 and S1. Nothing else would make sense in my opinion).

Heavy bearding yesterday, but we had it also very warm, 35°C. I have decided to remove the excluder tomorrow and add a third super, since I will not have time to extract for two weeks and it (3rd super) should be full in two weeks by what my other hives do.

Thanks Bill for your comments.


Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 28th, 2017, 10:12 am
by Allen Dick
I'd leave the excluder on. Beading is normal but if it bothers you, you can slide a super forward or back a bit to make a vent but be sure to close it when the weather cools.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 28th, 2017, 10:52 am
by Biermann
Hmm, Allen, I have found a direct relation between a) a good and vivid hive, b) full Supers (since the honey stores energy, heat) and bearding. When I have bearding on my other hives and exchange the full Super frames with empty ones, the bearding is gone, but with the queen executer, the frames in S1 & S2 are not full of honey, but the bees are not as eager as without to fill them.


Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 28th, 2017, 2:22 pm
by Allen Dick
Yes. It's not a simple matter. There are too many considerations for a simple matter. Bearding happens for a number of reasons, and using excludes is an expert technique and new beekeepers often have trouble using them.

When I began commercial beekeeping few of any commercial beekeepers used them but I found them indispensable. After a few years it seemed the majority adopted them.

Re: pollen for winter

Posted: July 30th, 2017, 3:24 am
by eltalia
It's true Allen a fixed method of using (or not) excluders in a hive stack
is a common enough mistake for new players. It is the application one hopes to achieve with the colony that directs when or if an excluder is used,
and as said "bearding" is one element which can be managed by other means if need be.
In times past I have used the config Joerg lays out plus an extra super as a
mop in high flows - that is however a honey harvest config, using a strong hive. Usually for transport and field work a single deep BC with 2 deep HS and excluder is run for honey raids. On pollen the boxes are broken down to 2 boxes and no excluder. Most operaters on pollon I did know run that config.

But I wanted to post about the bearding thing as I reckon from reading in a number of places many have this bee behavior all wrong, and react accordingly.
For mine when bees congregate around the landing board, up the face of the broodchamber and also hang off the BB maybe 80mm that is a good
thing when the colony is humming busy. It's when they rarely go into the hive all day that I pay attention.
I hesitate to name this as "bearding" as that intonates something abnormal, which bearding is.
What say all?

Quite some years ago - long after I made my effort of migratory as a business - I played with different vents and bottomboards to those etched in stone for Lang users. Long story made short I ended up with a config that consists of a solid BB with a full width entrance, migratory lids made shallow (bee space only) and a 65mm vent in each box, regardless of use.
That vent is screened with S/S mesh and is always opposite side to the entrance.
I have found the screens are managed by the bees and in doing so eliminates a lot of excluder management in having it out for maximum cell draw. Whilst our part of Aussie does get darn warm at times I have now long thought it is the pattern of air circulation throughout the hive that excluders factor into, some evidence found when it is seen groups of bees are fanning over the excluder. It cannot be said that behavior is eliminated with the larger vents but it sure is not as noticeable every time the supers frames are lifted.