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A yard of Meijers' Styrofroam Hives.

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Thursday October 1st, 2009
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September is gone and we are now just three months away from New Years Day 2010.

I see on my hi/lo thermometer that last night we dropped to minus 2.9 degrees C.  I also noticed in the past few days that the remaining alfalfa in the area was looking finished -- no flowers anymore, so I guess an earlier frost in recent days did the damage.  There was still a little clover blooming in the ditches here and there, though.

I have bookwork this AM -- I have expenses to figure out -- and am headed to Edmonton this afternoon.  I did some figuring and see that I will have covered just a little under 6,000 Km during the last few weeks, inspecting, and that was economizing on travel as much as I could.


I drove to Edmonton and got my car back.  Although I like Dodge vans, I must say that even a 17-year old luxury car- my Mercury Grand Marquis -- is far quieter and smoother riding.  The fuel economy is about the same, with the Grand Marquis using just a little less. It carries about the same passenger load, and although the trunk is huge, the van may carry more, especially with the seats out.

I have always figured a ten-year-old luxury car, fully loaded was a better decision price-wise than a new economy car. It is also a far better ride, and the maintenance is often the same or less.  Although occasional spikes in gasoline prices cause one to question the decision, those occasions are also the best times to acquire so-called  'gas hogs', since they go for peanuts when gas prices rise.

As for the 'ecological footprint', I doubt there is a huge difference between them and the eco cars, since the luxury cars last longer and when the energy and materials that go into manufacture, then recycling are considered, luxury cars come out about the same per mile of travel, year of usage, and passengers carried.  Compared to the hybrids, there is no huge and exotic battery to replace and/or dispose of, either, and that is a huge consideration that IMO, removes hybrids from real contention.

Today the news was that one of Maggie Thatcher's former minions (Climate fears based on lies, Calgary told) has announced that Anthropogenic Global Warming has been a hoax.  That is significant since Maggie Thatcher was the one who originally brought the question front and centre in her showdown with the Welsh coal miners. More... , and Will Global Warming Alarmism Disappear Like the Hula-Hoop?

I had supper in Edmonton, then spent the night with my daughter and her family.

Friday October 2nd, 2009
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I am increasingly convinced that we have been experiencing a slow but steady decrease in the quality of pollen available to our bees over recent decades.  I see fewer colours than in the past, and I think it would be very useful to analyse samples of typical pollen found in hives going into winter for amino acid balance and overall protein content.  I'll bet the results would be surprising.

At the same time as the pollen sources have become fewer, the nutritional requirements of our bees have increased due to predation from two exotic mites, and also the burdens imposed by pesticides which subtly affect nerves and metabolism.

I am increasingly impressed by the performance of my splits which consumed Global's 15% pollen patties at rate of a pound a week all summer and went from walk-away splits (split twice without being given queens or cells since May) and are now as high as six boxes.  The four I weighed put on around 90 pounds in the last month of summer.

Here is a good article: Supplemental Feeding of Honey Bee Colonies

I think my observations justify a controlled experiment in future.

I decided that the scale lacks the sensitivity it should have and pulled it out again.  I disassembled it and discovered that it is binding a bit and also may be a bit warped.  I'm not sure exactly, since it is a series of levers and knife-edges.  Apparently the scale works fine until the weight gets up to a certain point, at which it begins to bind a bit.  Apparently with the gains of the last week, I hit that point, and the binding made accurate readings difficult.

I started this job at 5 PM and the breeze made things chilly.  I'm stopped for the night and pondering...

Before I broke it down, though, I noticed a three-pound loss for the four hives, or 3/4 lb per hive loss over 24 hours.

We got down to minus 4.7 last night.  Here is the scale hive chart.  I've taken the liberty of extrapolating the current trend and will correct when I get a new trend if it is different.  The thing about weight loss is that one would think that it should be linear and relatively constant, while gains can be episodic and unpredictable due to sudden flows and weather events.  Nonetheless, that is just an assumption, and it is possible that there could be unique events on specific non-flow days in fall, like on cold days or unusually warm days.

Our measured gain was 87 lbs from August 24th to September 28th. Now, after 4 days we are down to 83 lbs +/-.  If we continued to lose weight at this rate, the bees would use up that entire crop in three months -- by New Years Day.  I know this won't happen.   We used to put hives into winter at as little as 55 kg (121 lbs) including floor and lid, and they came through fine to May with feed to spare.

Considering that the empty hive, c/w brick and bees weigh 65 lbs or so (20+20+8+8+7+4), the entire fall and winter consumption has to be less than 60 lbs.


I am increasingly convinced that we have been experiencing a slow but steady
decrease in the quality of pollen available to our bees over recent decades.

I see fewer colours than in the past, and I think it would be very useful to
analyze samples of typical pollen found in hives going into winter for amino
acid balance and overall protein content. I'll bet the results would be
surprising.

At the same time as the pollen sources have become fewer, the nutritional
requirements of our bees have increased due to predation from two exotic
mites, and also the burdens imposed by pesticides which subtly affect nerves
and metabolism.

As the season ended, I became increasingly impressed by the performance of
my splits which consumed Global's 15% pollen patties at rate of about a
pound a week all summer and went from walk-away splits (twice since May) and
are now as high as six boxes.

The four hives I weighed put on around 90 pounds in the last month of
summer. I had great wintering last year, and wonder how this winter's
success will be. I have varroa at 5% and 2%, 2% and 2% levels in the hives
I checked so far, and figure some oxalic syrup may be in order.

I'm wondering how much feeding protein compensates for other factors like
mite predation.

I'm also wondering if the reason that protein feeding has seemed to be
beneficial against nosema according to some reports could be that the
digestion of the protein supplements (especially for bees with
nosema-damaged guts) is easier than the digestion of pollen, which is known
to have a tough covering.


> At the current price for global patties I wonder about global being able
> to sell the patties at the current pricing using fresh Canada pollen which
> sells on the internet for health food for at least $20 (cheap) to over 30+
> in certain locations.

I think we covered this here before, but the Canadian patties, made in
Canada contain the same pollen which commercial beekeepers in Western Canada
use for various purposes, and my understanding is that it is imported. All
such imported pollen is irradiated. Canadian pollen, if and when it is
available must be irradiated, too. Global makes custom batches with
customers' pollen if requested, but as a matter of policy, will not have
non-irradiated pollen on the premises since it can be considered a disease
risk.

On the other hand, all US Global production containing pollen, which is
produced and sold in the US (by a US company) is made with *US-produced
pollen* and this is confirmed in consultation with the USDA and FDA, both of
which are interested in such matters, along with state authorities in some
cases, I understand.

> I think all commercial U.S. beeks reading know when patties were sold in
> the U.S. with pollen added the pollen was Chinese irradiated.

Goes to show that 'all commercial U.S. beeks reading' seem to know things
that are untrue. We've noticed that here before, and more than once.

> Is irradiated china pollen being sold into Canada?

As far as I know it is available, as is pollen from many other countries, if
requested.

> The question is not that I suspect global of using china pollen but asking
> if i was a Canada resident if I could order china irradiated pollen.

I should imagine you could and would. Many do. Canada is a relatively free
country.

> food for thought?

In what sense? The point being made was that bees being fed a supplement
seemed to perform far better than I might have expected from experience with
unfed bees.

The type of patty fed is a detail possibly immaterial, since there are many
good bee supplements on the market. I felt I should specify, however, since
it could be material to the results, people usually want to know what was
used when things like that are reported.

I also do not know how well bees eat other supplements during a honey flow
and I wonder if the pollen content is a factor or not. I fed what I could
get and that happened to be the 15% ones, but usually prefer to feed patties
with no pollen.

I have never fed this much though, and during a flow. Maybe I'll change my
mind and prefer pollen from now on.

Food for thought.

YMMV.


> There are chilean companies selling pollen to Canada. Non of it is irradiated.

In Chile, perhaps, but my understanding is that if it is for bee feed, the importer must have it irradiated once it is landed here in Canada in a known facility at recognised and accepted Canadian radiation doses.

No sensible Canadian beekeeper would feed un-radiated pollen from any source, including oftentimes even pollen produced in one's own outfit. Although not too long ago, people would feed un-radiated pollen without thinking, in recent years, people have come to recognise that -- no matter how good the source-- the possibility of spreading one bee disease or another amounts to a virtual certainty.

We are assured, however, that after electron-beam radiation treatment in a certified facility and according to recommendation, that the pollen is still as nutritious as before, but that the possibility of disease transmission is eliminated.

Saturday October 3rd, 2009
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The overnight low was plus two, but I see the temperature dropping and it is now, at 7AM, zero point eight.

Getting the scale repaired is Job One for today, but as it often happens, I may have to do some cleanup in the shop before I can bring it in.  I left a mess after doing the previous scale repairs.  Working outside may be too unpleasant today.

I see now what may be the root cause: the platform was cracked at one time and welded.  The alignment is not perfect.  I trust that can be fixed -- somehow.  Maybe a shim in the right place will do the trick.

Actually, right now would be a good time to see if the bees are down out of the top boxes and perhaps pull a few.

Well, the bees are not all down yet  There is still a stovepipe of bees up the centre in most hives.  I may need my Quebec escape boards.  Where are they, I wonder?

Another successful day of procrastinating.  I did nothing with the scale.  I cleaned up the basement a bit and updated one of my machines to Ubuntu 9.10 Beta.

Ubuntu is a great O/S.  I've played with and used many O/Ss and I can say this one is ready for prime time.  I like it.  Using Synergy II, and QuickSynergy I run a Vista machine and a Ubuntu machine with the same keyboard and mouse.  Both are good.

One caveat, though, 9.10 is still a Beta and I notice a few wrinkles such as failure to recover from a suspended state (Reminds me of Vista), and a message during boot about not supporting my BIOS.  Ubuntu 9.10 Beta runs just fine, though, and is faster than my Vista machine sitting beside it and sharing a keyboard and mouse.

The Ubuntu bug tracker noticed the failure to recover from suspend, just now, and just asked me if the system may report it to the developers for fixing.  Cool!


> BetterBee sells bulk pollen for $6.00 pound. Oh, and 15% of a pound is
> not one ounce

And if BetterBee sells it for $6, you can bet they are paying about half
that.


Haven't bought or used OTC for years now -- my bees just don't seem to need
it -- but a friend was asking, so I looked around.

It seems that Mann Lake, Brushy Mountain, Kelly, etc. are all only offering
pre-mixes and the mixes all feature a soy or similar flour content. Mann
Lake still offers OTC grease patties (IMO, the best way to apply OTC).

In my experience, bees don't take mixes containing flour nearly as well as
the tried-and-true OTC/powdered sugar mixes. In my recent travels, I often
saw Tylosin on the top bars in a lump because it was mixed with flour, not
sugar.

We used to be able to buy OTC straight. I think we still can in Canada, no
problem, but what about the US? Sources?


> Allen, see my upcoming article in ABJ. As atmospheric CO2 levels
> increase, the protein content of plant matter decreases.

Well, I am a doubter when it comes to any CO2 story, but would be interested
to know what percentage changes are observed and how they are observed.
Much of the 'research' related to global warming is being found to be more
political than scientific.

Perhaps that effect is significant. I don't know, but I don't need a CO2
explanation when I look around and see all the farmland groomed fence to
fence and fallow no longer in evidence. Fallow used to be 50% of farmland
around here, and now there is zero, except for the occasional chemically
fallowed field. Where the farmland ends, urban areas begin, with chemical
sprays much in evidence. There are still the valleys and pasture, but many
years, they are overgrazed, and when they are not, the plants are
recovering.

> This is a common observation now among commercial beeks. Colonies really
> respond to major pollen supplement feeding.

Beekeepers usually assume that feeding should only be done when a shortage
is in evidence.

What amazed me was that these bees were on a great flow. They produced
almost 90 lbs in a month and during that time still ate the supplement at a
good rate.

I'm thinking that all our summer pollen is deficient, since there is no tree
pollen after June. Coincidentally, that is usually when our build-up tapers
off, and late splits usually do not winter well. I guess I'm going to find
out when I winter these.

> I hit a yard of hungry bees a few weeks ago--they ate the first 3 lb
> patty in a week! I'm currently building up a yard of 72 singles for a
> winter trial, by supplemental feeding. Virtually no natural feed around
> for the past two months. The broodnests look like colonies in early
> spring--lots of young larvae
> "swimmin' in jelly." This is in dry Calif, where we have no rain, and no
> fall asters or goldenrod.

Exactly. One thing I keep telling people who think that patty feeding
stimulates brood rearing is that maybe, sometimes, it does, BUT the big
effect they see is that the bees don't tear out or give up on what they
already have overnight or during windy or rainy spells. The result (Duh) is
more sealed brood, but the conclusion that it is primarily due to
stimulation -- in my mind -- is questionable. People see what they want to
see, and they have stimulation on their mind, not the effects of good
development, sound health and continuous and complete nutrition.

> I'm not sure whether the tough covering of pollen (the exine) is an issue,
> since bees don't try to digest it--they apparently gain access to the
> protein via the germination pore, so the digestion may be more enzymatic
> than via physical rupturing.

Understood, but in the case of severe gut damage from nosema, does that
mechanism function?


BTW, I was talking to Hack at the EAS and he sent me his recipe and
permission to share it.
---

Protein Patty Recipe

1. 125 lbs. Sugar (Add water and keep wet. Should be a little thicker
than pancake batter.)

2. Add either 3 cups citric acid or 4 quarts of lemon juice, (this is to put
the ph at 4 to 5)
3. Add 1 cup Honey Bee Healthy (optional , but we prefer)

4. Add bag Vitamins & Electrolytes (we use Russell's) (2 oz. worth)

5. Add 10 lbs. pollen (optional)

(keep the mix wet)
6. Mix in 25 lbs. of Inedible Dries eggs

7. Add 3 cups Canola Oil

8. Mix in 24 lbs. (2 gallons) Honey

9. Finish by adding 50 lbs. Brewtech Brewers Yeast. Water until it has the
consistency you desire.

---

Thanks, Dave.

I trust it is OK with you if I share this with others and mention it on the
web?

---

> Yes
> david


> I have this recipe posted to my website on the pollen supplement page

And now it is on BEE-L for those who don't have the time or inclination to
visit your pages -- or mine.

> with an estimated protein content.

I sure get tired of all the hubbub about protein content. Protein content
does not tell anything very much IMO. What is more important is amino acid
balance and digestibility, toxicity -- and actual field results.

Protein content is a distraction in cases where the levels are within a wide
range, and is used by scoundrels to create artificial distinctions where few
can be easily made. We know better, I hope. Protein content is just a very
rough guide.

I had a guy write me that he is feeding cat food and that it has a good
protein content. I'm waiting for the long-term results.

Maybe I'll try it though. After all, it has a superior protein content and
a million cats cannot be wrong. (So goes the logic).

> I might suggest that the inedible egg solids be replaced with food-grade
> dried egg yolk, as the bees appear to prefer it.

What about cats?

> Hack's formula contains a far higher percentage of total sugars than the
> formula than most of us use out in Calif. I'm not sure why.

Because bees will eat anything if you add enough sugar. Sorta like kids.

I don't know about cats.


> I didn't mention global warming at all--please don't confuse the issues.

The issues are intertwined, and not by me.

I'm interested to know how much change in plants has been documented and how
robust the research was. A lot of the GW 'research' has been debunked.

> Kleinschmidt documented that overall protein content in bees' bodies
> tended to drop during major honey flows.

We know that to be the case where pollen is deficient. Do we know about
flows where high quality pollen is present. After all, beekeepers usually
say that nothing makes a hive look better than a good honey flow.

>>Understood, but in the case of severe gut damage from nosema, does that
>>mechanism function?

> The gut damage by nosema is to the epithelium. Digestion takes place
> within the peritrophic membrane. Absorption takes place in the
> epithelium. So the two functions take place in separate areas.

OK, thanks, but that does not answer he question.

Something is happening...


> California beeks had the most reported CCD and were the users of most of
> the Chinese pollen... Now we find Canada is using mass amounts and
> reporting substantial losses ( winter kill of course)

Actually, I think you need to check your facts. Canadians are not using
mass amounts, and the winter kills are well documented as relating to the
failure of ]varroa controls. We'll see what happens this year since the
levels are well under control with Apivar, and nosema levels appear low.

What we do know about California beekeepers -- and I have heard them talk
about it in person -- is that some are using massive doses of farm chemicals
in off-label treatments. These chemicals are very toxic to bees and it is
not surprising that they are seeing bee loss. As for CCD, my understanding
is that there is much, much less verified CCD than there are reports
claiming CCD.

> China bee feed pollen sold for less than $2 a pound in bulk. Plenty cheap
> for patties... I sell pollen I collect for $14 a pound. It would be
> impossible for U.S. or Canada beeks to compete with China dumping bee
> pollen.

Canadian beekeepers want very high prices, but some US beekeepers are
selling in an affordable price range, I understand -- cheap enough for
patties, and last I heard, U.S. pollen is all that can be used in the U.S.
What Medhat said is news to me.

> Global patty sells for less than $2 a pound patty with 15% pollen.

That is true. Much less than $2. $1.36, apparently.
http://globalpatties.com/orders/order_us.htm

> Maybe a Canada beek will provide a source as I am interested in buying a
> large amount of U.S. bee feed pollen a price low enough I could add 15% to
> a pound patty and sell for less than $2 a pound patty.

Why would a Canadian beekeeper want to buy U.S. pollen when we can by from
anywhere in the world at reasonable prices?

> I have been sitting here with a calculator and the only way I can see is
> with a imported irradiated pollen... I think Allen pointing out all
> Global patties sold into the U.S. has to be made with U.S. pollen says the
> ban is still in effect.

Last I heard, it was.

> However Aphis does no checking. Makes rules with no enforcement.

Careful. Even occasional statements like that destroy your credibility with
those who actually do know about these things.


>> I'm interested to know how much change in plants has been documented...

> You can read the papers yourself and make up your own mind...

I was hoping you would point us in that direction, but even more so, I was
hoping to get the Cole's Notes version.

All I really was wondering was how much of a change they are claiming -- 1%,
10%, 100% or???

>> After all, beekeepers usually say that nothing makes a hive look better
>> than a good honey flow.

> How many beekeepers look carefully at the brood nest immediately after a
> very strong honey flow? I

Actually, I said, "good". I remember one very distinct case where I had a
whole yard of bees die over winter after a really strong late fall flow
that -- I assume was without any accompanying pollen flow (alfalfa?), so I
am not equating, "good" with, "very strong". To me a "good" flow is one
which continues for a period of time in the normal season and is accompanied
with a good pollen supply.

> Sorry. It appears that bees starve as the result of a severe nosema
> infection. It makes them more hungry (as judged by the proboscis
> extension reflex), as Chris Mayak's recent paper found. Makes me wonder
> if that is why Bob and others observe nosema infected bees drowning in
> feeders.

Could be. What I was wondering was if supplements are somehow easier to
digest and hold off the bees' demise a little longer. Or maybe the benefit
is just the fact that there is lots of it right there and they don't have to
go and get it?

Or maybe none of the above.


>> >I sure get tired of all the hubbub about protein content. Protein
>> >content does not tell anything very much IMO.

> ... in animal feeds in general, the number one denominator of cost and
> value is generally protein content. ...Of course, as you state, the
> protein must be "complete" for the species in question. deGroot's
> research indicates that a complete protein for bees matches that for
> mammals ... For other factors, bees
> are very different from humans. For bees, ascorbic acid is not a vitamin,
> but cholesterol is. Salt (sodium chloride) is also toxic to them at
> levels
> that humans would find tasty.

That bears repeating. What some people decide to feed their bees makes me
wince. We know that some things benefit the bees with no discernable ill
effects.

Additionally, who cares what the "exact" protein level is, give or take a
few percentage points, especially when there is a natural variation in
ingredients like pollen? As long as it is within a band of acceptability,
that is not an issue. Studies have apparently determined there is a fairly
wide band of protein concentrations within which results are OK and outside
of which results taper off.

What really counts is results per dollar, and protein content is only a
very, very rough guide in that regard, and only when considered in
conjunction with cost and consumption rates. For that matter, we are not
sure that there is any linear relationship between consumption and results,
whatever they might be expected to be, and we also know that there are some
protein feeds which, if you believed the label protein levels, are not very
effective.

I really wonder what people are thinking. Seems to me that at some point, a
diet must be good enough. There has to be a point at which the diet cannot
be improved-- especially when we do not know what the other half -- the
natural portion -- is. Once the bees are properly nourished, how can they
be fed any better. Are we to put superchargers on them?

There is a huge difference between caged bees in experiments and the
free-foraging bees we manage. In the former case, researchers must give
bees a complete diet if we want them to survive, but in the real world, the
bees are getting lots of things we cannot predict with any accuracy, so we
are merely backstopping the natural diet on cold and windy days and
augmenting inferior pollens with a more complete amino acid profile.

When I read the numerous articles of the sort that can be found here:
http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/supplemental-feeding-of-honey-bee-colonies/ ,
I'm not sure that we did not reach that point of "close enough" years ago,
and that the problems today and confusion about feeding results are not
simply those of ingredient quality and freshness. Freshness is
particularly where beekeepers are making up their own diets of material they
are able to source reasonably close and at reasonable cost and may have to
compromise, often without knowing.

It has been demonstrated beyond a doubt that stale ingredients can -- beyond
being ineffective in promoting growth and health -- actually be harmful, and
that ingredients deteriorate within months under some potentially normal
conditions of storage, especially in the south.

I wonder how much beekeepers think they can save when they have to buy
supplies in partial loads from suppliers who are unimpressed by the small
amount of business they bring, and then find they have too much of this and
too little of that and the mix is too stiff or too slack... It seems to me
that the large volume supplement/substitute outfits produce a superior
product and it is as fresh as fresh can be -- assuming the beekeeper is
sharp and ensures the product he buys has not sat in a warehouse for a year
or more. (it happens).

People talk as if there is no limit to how far we can push bees. If someone
feeds a diet that results in demonstrable great health and wintering as well
as increased sealed brood, it seems that someone else immediately claims
that he can beat that, and comes up with some interesting story.

Actually proving anything, especially more than once, as you know, is very
difficult.

> Ditto with your "friend's" cat food. Protein is higher than dog food,
> which is why it costs more. But not sure about the high sodium, low
> potassium, and ground corn.

That is why I am sceptical.

>>Because bees will eat anything if you add enough sugar I don't know about
>>cats.

> Since you "asked," cats don't have taste buds for sugar. Dogs do. That's
> why cats don't beg for sweets.

I was trying to be funny.


Sunday October 4th, 2009
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The overnight low was one degree Celsius.  Yesterday was breezy and dull.  Today looks the same.

My shop cleanup will continue and the scale repair, hopefully.  I have books to do and expenses to submit.


> ...lima bean plants grown in an atmosphere of 900ppm CO2, as compared to
> the current ambient of 385ppm (about half again higher than the 285ppm at
> the beginning of the Industrial Revolution), the leaf protein content
> decreased by 28%.
 


That is an interesting observation. Has much work has been done along this
line?

As previously mentioned here, 'protein' is a general designation for some
significant nutrients. I wonder, does the amino acid profile change? And,
as you posed, the question is whether -- assuming that this work is valid,
which I still doubt -- this might apply to pollens.

> This caused caterpillars to eat 20% more leaf area in order to obtain
> enough protein.

100 x 0.72 = 72
72 x 1.2 = 86.4

86.4 is not equal to 100

Curious

BTW, I understand work continues on Cold Fusion -- FWIW.

> Please forgive me if I'm a little curt tonight--an oak fell across our
> power line outside my bedroom last night, and the utility company was
> working on it until dawn, so I didn't get much sleep.

Glad it did not fall across the bedroom.


> As you say, Allen, it boils down to cost vs. benefit. This is why MegaBee
> has such a high hurdle to clear--since it is more costly, beekeepers
> expect more benefit.

Much of the work on MegaBee and the additional expense is related to
producing a liquid protein diet that did not settle out or spoil. As far
as I know, few actually use it as a liquid. I would be interested in
knowing if any here do so, and to what extent.

I suspect any superiority lies in its use as a liquid and as a dry feed or
patty, MegaBee has little, if anything, to offer that other feeds do not and
it is expensive.

As I say often, the decision for most beekeepers comes down to cost,
availability and freshness. Freight can be a huge cost for those buying
small quantities.

The question of what is really in some of these proprietary feeds is also
something to think about.


>> I sure get tired of all the hubbub about protein content.

> I'm a bit puzzled by this comment. I agree that protein content is just one part of the nutritional story, but the Fat Bee/Skinny Bee book has some definite opinions about minimum protein content, and too much protein seems to have some adverse effects.

I thought I clarified that in subsequent posts, but perhaps the point was lost in verbiage.

I'll recap. Succinctly.

IMO, as long as the protein content is not too high, or too low, the *exact* level, specified to decimals of a percent, is not an issue and is mostly a distraction from the real questions.

The important questions IMO have to do with amino acid balance, palatability, digestibility, availability, efficacy, texture, freshness, and actual cost for satisfactory results.

The proportion of other constituents in the mix may be more important, since an excess of lipids, for example, or inclusion of salts or other components -- even possibly sugars -- may be a problem. Seems to me that in mixes, the bees are forced to eat the whole concoction -- good and bad --and may have limited capabilities to separate and sort the constituents out. In order to get what they need they may be forced to eat thngs they do not need, or which may actually be -- worst case -- deleterious.

By focussing on protein content, some purveyors of supplements successfully distract prospects from noticing they are including ingredients which are not proven to be beneficial, especially in the amounts that are used.


> Not sure whether you are saying here that Megabee has little 'proven benefit' over other feeds - we have noted that it contains about twice the protein of many of the competing diets.

I wasn't aware of that. I trust that this number as been verified? Such a difference would seem to be significant and should predict superior results if protein content is an indicator.

From what I have heard, though, MegaBee has not, caught on well with commercial beekeepers who have tried it, and I know people who have pallets of it sitting unwanted due partly to price.

Maybe you have heard different?

I think Randy did some tests with it, too. Can't recall.

Maybe Bob can say what he is hearing, too.


>> Has much work has been done along this line? ...assuming that this work is valid, which I still doubt -- this might apply to pollens.

> Obviously wasting my time here....better ways to spend it.

Me too. I think I'll go clean up the shop.

Thanks.


> Would help if the formula was made public. Allen, you said "MegaBee has little, if anything, to offer that other feeds do not." Does that mean that you know the formula?

Nope. I am just going by what my friends tell me. They make up many custom formulas for beekeepers and MegaBee is not the hit we had expected.

> There is also the issue of particle size. Dr Wardell found that it was critical for bee digestion. MegaBee is specially milled to get to that size. So even if it contained exactly the same ingredients as another formula, those ingredients might be more nutritionally available to bees by virtue of the smaller particle size.

Well, maybe this is the story today, but at the time, the issue was getting it to suspend in a liquid and that was where the bulk of the time, effort and expense went. As far as the value (relative cost effectiveness) as a diet, I don't really know.

To repeat, MegaBee was designed as a* liquid* feed, and perhaps secondarily a dust, but because I kept insisting that the market for liquid feeds is very limited and that the handling of liquids is problematic compared to solids, the product was finally made into patties. There is much more to the story.

What are we talking about here? MegaBee as a liquid, or MegaBee as a patty?

In my opinion, the particle size is not particularly important in patties. I could be proven wrong, but I doubt it.
---

Changing the subject away from MegaBee for moment and speaking more generally...

Patty sales have become an attractive business and many people are trying to make a buck off the beekeeper by promoting secret formulas and special processes. Aspirants to the business find they cannot compete producing a generic patty following the traditional formulas -- that niche is occupied by a very efficient low-cost producer -- so they try to find a niche by saying that the tried and true formula is not as good as whatever they dream up.

I know because I can number three proprietary commercial products that came about as a direct result of my enquiries and discussions a decade or so back and the efforts made by the Southern Alberta Beekeepers. Our philosophy in approaching academics and others regarding improving the feed recipes of the time was that the work should be 'open source' and financed by beekeepers, with the results of the work being freely promulgated. This approach did not suit the people we talked to, and they went off and developed recipes they figured they could keep secret and make money with.

The problem for beekeepers for each of these feeds is to discover which claims are are valid and _whether the magical qualities claimed by some will actually manifest themselves in the real world and return the cost to the beekeeper with a bonus for the risk and effort_.

My personal opinion -- not confirmed by actual tests -- is that little has been accomplished in the past decade except to add cost to a basic formula that works and confuse beekeepers with hype.


> ... I do not buy into the hypothesis presented by Allen the main causes for hive loss in California

Did I say that? I don't think so, but I do think it might be a significant contributing factor.

> ...off label prudent use of miticides registered for bees has been going on since commercial beeks were first taught to use such treatments... With my contacts one would think I would posses a vast knowledge of off label use of miticides registered for honey bees.

People are normally quite secretive about these things and are careful what they say, especially in front of anyone who might be indiscreet. Personally, I have been quite surprised to learn what people are actually found to be doing compared to what they earnestly say they are doing.

Back to what I said before, I recall hearing people in an impromptu and informal but open meeting in the US, say freely that they were using as much as eight or ten times the 'approved' dose of farm chemicals and mixing the products.

That is all I have to say on the topic.

A word to the wise is sufficient.

Randy is right. I really must go and clean up my shop.


> Actually, I try to keep my friends out of things, and no, I haven't talked to Gordy for quite a while.

> Price is still an issue with MegaBee as still priced as the Cadillac of pollen subs

That is actually a problem of perception for competitors, even if the products are comparable. People really want to believe that because a product is more expensive, it must be better. Although this perception is sometimes true, often as not, it is not, but people have the idea framed that if they pay more, they will get more.

Another frame is the idea that more ingredients means better sub.

> I believe the above was what Allen was asking me to post. An honest discussion on megabee from a beekeeper.

Yes, I was noticing that it doesn't sell in Canada after the initial sales and was wondering if it sells in any great amount down your way.


>>In my opinion, the particle size is not particularly important in patties. I could be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

 > Allen, do you have any information to back up that statement? I've found that when patties are made from materials with larger particle size, that the bees simply lick the sugar off the particles, and then dispose (of at least some) of them.

I guess I should have been more specific. In as much as I selected my ingredients well and get my patties from a source which uses proven products, i see no such activity. Of course, you are right and I have seen that in earlier days when we didn't know what we were doing. One time, long ago, we even fed a substitute that proved to be a good super clearer -- based on its ideal-looking protein profile, I should add.

> My guess would be that particle size is likely important

Sorry I should have stated my assumptions (above). Again, like "good enough", there is "small enough", IMO, anyhow.

> I am in total agreement with you, Allen. I'm not sure how the ARS can use taxpayer money to develop a product, and then to license it for production without patenting it--which would place the formula in the public domain. I'm truly surprised that no one has pursued freedom of information access for some products developed on the taxpayer dime.

You could be the first, or maybe one of our our resident investigative reporters (say someone from Missouri) could initiate such an action.

Information just wants to be free.


> I'm not sure how the ARS can use taxpayer money to develop a product, and
> then to license it for production without patenting it--which would place
> the formula in the public domain.

For sake of accuracy, my understanding is that the project was financed
through a small business grant and capital outside of the ARS, and that lab
facilities were rented by SAFE, Gordy's company.

I assume that all previous ARS research, paid for by the public purse, and
current ARS expertise was brought to bear, but my understanding is that the
specific work on MegaBee was supposed to be private.

Beyond that, I do not know if the ARS contributed more than what was hired
and if there was a 'Chinese Wall' or if things intermingled, or if they
obtained rights to new findings, if any.

It seems that the Tucson lab is publically taking credit for the project,
though, so I am not sure how arms length things are -- and were.


> the ABF made a resolution to push for a way to feed a pollen sub in syrup.

Actually, IMO, anyone who expects to deliver any significant amount of
protein in a liquid to bees is out of touch with reality unless the
laws of physics and chemistry as I know then have been repealed.

When we stop and think about it, what are patties but a suspension of
proteinaceous material in sugar syrup? Actually some patties can be
poured. Ooops!

Any syrup delivery method, and there were some on the market before
MegaBee, is going to necessarily deliver much less protein per litre,
unless somehow the non-protein components can be eliminated and
extracts used. Even then, I don't know. Also, extracts are very
expensive, relative to yeast and soy.

I recall asking Gordy about the state (liquid, solid) of amino acids
and their miscibility with water when I was standing in the Tucson lab
with him early on in the project because exactly those thoughts were
running thru my mind. I was wondering how they could eliminate the
solids and achieve an solution. (Apparently they have not).

The answers were much as I expected and I could not and cannot
understand how one could get a sufficient concentration without
suspending the material in a murky mess, and that is what has been
done. Back to patties.

Liquid feeds require a whole lot of equipment to use efficiently and
then there is a lot of clean-up. Who needs it? Maybe queen
producers, but frankly, I think it was a dumb idea from the get-go.
I'd never use it.

But, then what do I know? The researcher made money, the distributor
made money, the lab made money, and three out of four ain't bad.

Monday October 5th, 2009
October past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

It is my birthday today.  I spent the day in cleanup and we had some friends over for supper.

Tuesday October 6th, 2009
October past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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We had big winds today.  The mailbox blew over again.  It's on a stack of empty supers held together with lath inside and rocks for ballast.  The days have been bleak and by the looks of things, we are in for more of the same.  It is a shock after the beautiful weather I had during my weeks of inspecting .

Wednesday October 7th, 2009
October past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Tomorrow looks like winter. 

I have been doing tidying and have not gotten back to the scale repairs or pulling the honey.  I'm thinking I should find the supers free of bees in the next few days when it get cold.

Mostly, I have been tidying, sorting, and playing with operating systems on my computers.

There were questions about Apilife VAR on BEE-L. 

Here is some info (Two pages at right)

Thursday October 8th, 2009
October past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

I was writing about AGW a while back.  I have never believed the story, although I have listened carefully and read a bit.  My opinion is that CO2 is not and never was an issue but that the pollutants we produce are a problem, as is the damage we are doing to our water in the lakes and oceans.   Doug Casey sums up my take on the whole thing here.  Of course, he goes a bit over the top.

I drove to Calgary and picked Mom up.  The roads were OK, but visibility was poor due to blowing snow.

Friday October 9th, 2009
October past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World Forum HoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

We went grocery shopping in Drum this morning, loading up for Thanksgiving.

For those wondering about my scale hives, I regret to state that I missed my chance to get it repaired and when I went out to start the forklift to resume the job, I found the shift cable must have gotten water in it and frozen.  I cannot move the forklift and must wait until warmer weather.

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