Beekeeping forum: What was I thinking? Pollen Substitute patties

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Name: Terri
virginia (Zone 7a)
Beekeeper Region: Virginia Dragonflies Farmer
Jan 26, 2016 10:02 PM CST
I decided that instead of purchasing pollen patties this year, I would make them myself. How hard could it be? Ha!

First I made 1:1 syrup by weight measuring the water and sugar carefully and then letting it cool. Then came my first mistake.
In a 5 gallon food safe bucket, I added the substitute pollen to the syrup, the entire pail to approximately 1 gallon of syrup. I had a very watery mix, but it was nice and smooth and because I had added a bit of Pro Health it smelled pretty good, tasty even - if I were a bee, I thought, I'd be drawn to it. It was easy to mix too.

I remembered my friend had told me she mixed it to the thickness of peanut butter, but I couldn't remember if that was after it had set or before so I waited anxiously for hours for it to thicken up, then I actually got my glasses and read the directions. The ratio was supposed to be 1 part syrup to 1.7 parts of pollen subs. After reading that my heart sank! I looked at the weight of the pollen subs, it was only 5 pounds, so my ratio was way off.

This was last Friday night, so of course my local bee supply was not open until Monday and with a snow storm so feared it was given a name bearing down upon us, it was very unlikely I would be able to send my Poor Long Suffering husband on a quest to Dadant Bee Supply on Monday for more of their pollen substitute. What to do?

Well, I ended up ordering a 10 pound pail of BeePro on Amazon, with a delivery date of Tuesday. The snowstorm came and went, we had a good "stay at home for a change" weekend and I got a lot of things done. I had stored the pail of goo in one of my colder bedrooms, the one I give my guests who tend to stay too long (hey, it works, they don't overstay their welcome!) and it was still in good shape.

I received the BeePro via Fedex about 4 hours ago and, having poured out about 1/2 of the preparation I had previously made, mixed enough into the remaining liquid to make a thick peanut butter paste, then I added the rest of the liquid slowly. Boy that was hard and was it ever lumpy! So, once again I called upon my PLS hubby to provide one of his expensive heavy duty drills so I could use my bee food blade in it (AKA heavy duty cement paddle). It worked really well and the mix actually became smooth and peanut butter pasty.

Unfortunately, the expensive power drill started smoking which made my PLS Husband very angry, since he had just been watching one of those house flipping shows where they are able to use cheap drills to put an entire second floor on with no apparent problems for the drill. I, on the other hand was pretty pleased with the resulting paste and started putting out sheets of wax paper to pour patties on. I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough patties for my established 3 hives, my 3 new Nucs that aren't here yet and my friends one hive of bees. I had about 2.5 gallons of mix which is about 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket. Well, no need to worry, I have enough patties to feed about 50 hives for the next year. Good thing they freeze well!

There's just one problem, I have patties setting up all over my house on trays, on baking sheets, in casserole dishes and on a couple of pizza paddles. They are sandwiched between 2 sheets of either wax paper or unbleached organic parchment paper. The wax paper ran out and it was the last of my 100 year supply.(no, seriously, I have had it for at least 20 years!-the unbleached organic parchment paper is only about 10 years old but hopefully digestible by bees).

I am not sure if I will be doing that again! (well actually, I will because I have 3/4 of a 10 pound pail of pollen substitute left which will have to be used up).
It really wasn't hard, as long as you have your wits about you, which I usually don't after 6 pm at night.
It certainly wasn't as messy as trying to spin honey in your sun porch within a 10 square foot using frames that were frozen and which have not really completely thawed, even though you have cranked the heat up to 80 degrees and run a hair dryer around inside the extractor.
I have to say, now that the patties are all over my house, that the smell of the Pro Health really isn't as pleasant as when the project first started. In fact, I think I have finally discovered a way to stop the snowstorm binge eating which has been going on for the past few days.
But, if my bees like it and it helps them to stay alive and healthy until they can get pollen form the various trees that will bloom in another month or so, then it will have been worth it.
Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeƱos."
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Jan 27, 2016 5:20 AM CST


Oh dear that sounds like something my husband woukd do.
Glad your sense of humor survived

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