Here at MegaBee we get asked all sorts of questions concerning feeding and nutrition. But the question that comes up the most is, “when do I feed and how do I know that it is enough?” The simple answer is that supplemental feeding is a management tool that you can use over various times of the year to boost your hive’s population levels: in the spring when you are trying to get off to a good start, in preparation for a pollination contract, after you make splits, after applying your mite treatments, in preparation for winter…the list goes on. The most important rule that we often tell people however, is that if you really want to see the biggest difference in your hive you can’t simply put on one patty and expect things to change. We call it, “the six-week rule.”
The principle: feed your hives continuously for six weeks and you are guaranteed to see results. Why? Because your hive needs two good crops of young healthy bees in order the change the dynamic in the hive and go from weak to strong. A worker bee’s gestation period is 21 days. We want to give them the best chance for success, and in order to do so we need their cells swimming in royal jelly right from the start. We are able to achieve this by placing MegaBee patties are close to the brood nest as possible in order to target the nurse bees. These young nurse bees still have functioning hypopharyngeal glands and as a result are physiologically able to produce royal jelly. By giving them supplemental protein we are able to stimulate that royal jelly production and give the eggs and larva the nutrition they need to fatten up. When these immature bees eventually develop and assume their roles as nurse bees, they are strong workers that are pumping good nutrition into another generation.
Good nutrition extends individual honeybee lifespan, which in turn leads to higher colony populations, which means more bees in the hive, which means more nurses taking care of the immature bees, which means more royal jelly…see? It truly is a cyclical effect. And to get this metaphorical ball rolling all you need is two good crops of young bees.
So now that we know this “six-week rule” might be worth giving a shot, exactly how do we feed? Do we have to feed continuous for 42 days? Not necessarily. You might get even better results by doing that, but we tell beekeepers that putting a patty on every two weeks is sufficient. So 3 feedings back to back to back and you’ve just set your hive up for success.
Give a six-week challenge a try and let us know how it went.