Feb 2, 2024
Bee nutrition guide provides health info

The latest Honey Bee Nutrition Guide from the Honey Bee Health Coalition is designed to provide beekeepers important information available at their fingertips.

The guide is a review and manual providing comprehensive information for supplemental feeding in beehives, giving beekeepers a simple approach to the complex and nuanced world of honeybee nutrition, according to a news release.

Honey Bee Health Coalition “Understanding honey bee nutrition is no simple task, given the intricate social structure and diverse needs within a colony,” Priya Basu, an assistant professor of pollinator health and apiculture at Mississippi State University and the principal author of the guide, said in the release. “The Honey Bee Nutrition Guide addresses these challenges head-on, providing practical insights for beekeepers to navigate the seasonal variations and colony requirements effectively.”

Honeybee nutrition is a complex topic that varies based on landscape, time of year, and beekeeping objectives, Ana Heck, apiculture Extension educator at Michigan State University, said in the release. “Bees have changing nutritional needs as they progress through life stages from larval development to foraging workers. This guide serves as a roadmap for beekeepers to understand and meet the colony’s nutritional needs throughout the beekeeping season.”

Foragers, the scouts of the bee world, play a crucial role in sourcing floral resources such as pollen and nectar. In the absence of these natural resources, supplemental feeding becomes essential. The guide delves into the various considerations beekeepers must account for when deciding on supplemental feeding strategies, including the colony’s brood status, seasonal nutritional needs, and food reserves in the hives.

The guide also reviews the history of supplementing colonies with diets other than pollen, which dates back centuries. The guide traces this history, highlighting pivotal moments such as Amos Ives Root’s tests with various supplements in 1875 and the foundational research by Mykola H. Haydak and Elton W. Herbert, Jr. in the United States. The guide also emphasizes the importance of understanding the limitations of artificial supplements compared to the nutritional richness of natural pollen.

Honey Bee Health Coalition“With practical insights, historical context, and a focus on sustainability, the Honey Bee Nutrition Guide aims to empower beekeepers to make informed decisions for the well-being of their colonies,” George Hansen of Foothills Honey Company and member of the guide’s review committee, said in the release. “This essential resource will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of sustainable beekeeping practices.”

The guide also includes a series of interviews with six commercial beekeepers who summarize what works for them when providing supplemental feeding to their honeybee colonies throughout the year, depending on their location and their beekeeping practices.

View the guide and more information at honeybeehealthcoalition.org/nutritionguide.

Based in Denver, Colorado, Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers, brands and other partners to improve the health of honeybees and other pollinators.

The organization’s mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that help achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The coalition focuses on accelerating the collective impact of efforts in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach and education.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a project of the Keystone Policy Center, a nationally recognized nonprofit that brings together diverse stakeholders to find collaborative, actionable solutions to public policy challenges.


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