How to Make Pollen Patties

How to Make Pollen Patties
     

It’s late summer in Phoenix and my bees are hungry.

     

Why pollen patties? Well, I’ve set out pollen substitute and they are rolling around in it like pigs in mud. It’s quite endearing really. I’ve also been feeding them sugar syrup off and on and I’ve noticed that some of my hives are not as strong as they should be. I’m still figuring out the floral cycles here and watching where my bees are getting their food (You can see a list of Low Desert plants for bees HERE). It is a very local phenomenon. I have bees all over the valley and from neighborhood to neighborhood the hive strength differs from near starvation to abundance. 

     

What to do for our bees now

     

I was asking one of Arizona’s most experienced and knowledgable beekeepers, Monica King, what we should be doing for our hives at this time of year to boost their numbers. In Arizona we often get another nectar flow in the early Fall and that can help strengthen a hive, but this year we are at a deficit with no monsoon. Even if that wasn’t the case, if a hive is small, then they don’t even have the numbers to collect enough food when the flow is good.

     

To remedy that, Monica recommends feeding constantly until the bees no longer need it (they will stop eating it in that case, so you will know). She sets out dry pollen substitute to see if the bees are interested in it, and if so, she gives them internal pollen patties and sometimes even sugar syrup. You can also watch and see if bees are hanging around animal feed as a clue. They are looking for protein, which is what pollen is for them. If you have small hives or one from a recent removal then you definitely need to feed them no matter what. If they can’t build comb then they can’t store food nor can the queen lay eggs. The colony will die.

     

Pollen Patties to the rescue

     

Inspired by this information, I decided to take half of my dry pollen substitute (Ultra Bee from Mann Lake) and make pollen patties. 

     

In my research, I came across lots of recipes, some with only a few ingredients and some with lots of additives like essential oils. I really liked the recipe I’m sharing with you because it is simple and I had all the ingredients.

           

Pollen Patty Recipe

           

Note: You can increase quantities using those math skills you learned in school.

     

Ingredients

     

*Note: This updated recipe is much simpler and doesn’t contain vegetable oil or salt, unlike the original recipe. I found the addition to be unnecessary. I also made the quantities smaller for backyard beekeepers.

     
  • 1 quart 1:1 sugar syrup (4 c sugar to 2 pints hot water)
  • 6-8 c Dry Pollen Substitute (I use Ultra Bee)
  • 1 Tbls Honeybee Healthy or 4 drops lemongrass oil (added to syrup)
  • Wax Paper
     

Directions

     
  1. Place pollen in a large bowl or bucket and add the syrup a little at a time and mix until it looks like peanut butter cookie batter mixed with pumpkin. (mmmm)  
  2. Tear several 10-inch sheets of wax paper and set aside. This will make 5-8 patties depending on how thick you make them.
  3. Drop two large spoonfuls of mixture onto half of the wax paper sheet
  4. Fold the paper in half and press down to spread the mixture. Use a rolling pin to smooth it out. You’ll get the hang of it. I like them fairly thin (about 1/4 inch thick).
  5. When you are finished, place them in stacks and store in a container or bag in the freezer if you aren’t using them within a week.
  6. To use, simply place the patty on top of the frames of your brood chamber. When the bees have eaten it all, give them another until their numbers are strong and the nectar flow has begun.
     

Journal Entry

     

Write down when you gave them the patty and then how long it took them to consume it all. Keep track of this information to help in planning for years to come.

6 thoughts on “How to Make Pollen Patties

  1. If I add a few drops of wintergreen oil to the patties to keep hive beetles away will it harm the bees? Will the bees eat it better with a drop of anise hyssop oil?

    • Post Author cricket

      Wintergreen or spearmint are great. I don’t k is about other oils. Lemongrass oil is good for them and they love it. Just never put more than a few drops of any of them.

  2. I recently used some Hopguard ll on my hive . The instructions said nothing about not using it above a certain temp. Three days later all my bees were gone. No dead bees in sight. Just almost all of them were gone. Was this possibly because it was too hot?

    • Post Author cricket

      Yes it probably did have something to do with it. It recommends using it between 52 and 92 degrees F. The vapors can be released too quickly if it is hotter, I believe. But even if used in the normal temp range, bees can still abscond because of it.

  3. Hi! Nice article!
    I have a question! Can I use other essential oil? Like cinnamon? Or others? Or is much better lemongrass oil?

    Thanks 🙂 ??

    • I wouldn’t add other things to it. The bees may not eat it and I’m not sure of the toxicity of those. It would be a shame to make it and have them not eat it.

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