We've all been there. You crack the hive a week after putting a patty on and your bees barely touched it. What does it mean? Well, to put it plainly it is a major red flag, and our first concern is the queen.
We say this because even in a heavy pollen or nectar flow your hive will devour a MegaBee patty and store the collected pollen, so it’s not that they are not interested in the patty. What it usually means is that the brood isn’t calling out to be fed. How do we know for sure? Here are a few quick things to check:
1. Listen – First things first. What does it sound like? A dull roar can be a quick indication that it might be queenless.
2. Check for brood diseases and varroatosis – This could be a quick indication that something is wrong.
3. Check for too many drones – If you are seeing an unusual number of drones in your hive then it means that your queen isn’t fertile anymore.
4. Check for young brood – Here we are talking about eggs and larva. If you aren’t seeing any then she needs to be replaced. If you do see eggs then check to see how much royal jelly is in the cells. Are they practically swimming in it? If not, then your hive doesn’t have enough young nurse bees that are producing royal jelly.
Ultimately, nine times out of ten if your bees are not eating a patty it signals queen issues. The good news is that as attentive beekeepers we can typically catch queen failure before it gets to an irreparable state, and patties can help us do this because they serve as a hive check of sorts.
Say you have five hives and you go around popping lids a week after feeding and four of the five ate their patties then you might make a quick check in those four for developing brood, but it’s that fifth hive you should be focusing on and carefully monitoring over the weeks to come.