Thursday, January 21, 2010
Bees in the Chicken Yard
Honey bee colonies may begin producing brood anytime after the winter solstice, December 21. Brood production requires a considerable amount of protein to feed the larvae. While honey bees derive their protein from pollen, very little is available early in the year. The bees often mistakenly gather dust from various sources while searching for pollen. The bees do not have the ability to tell the quality of the protein they collect. They may be collecting an incomplete protein from a flower or a completely different substance, like the chicken feed dust. It is common for people to find honey bees in bird feeders in the winter and early spring. These bees are collecting dust from the millet seeds. In response to the bees’ desire for pollen, I gave a supplemental feeding of pollen substitute, a fermented protein food based on soy flour and brewer’s yeast, to my bee yard which will be producing this year’s queens.