Winter 2020 feeding Pollen Substitute

It is only February 5th and I’ve begun feeding protein/pollen substitute (Dadant AP23). I’ve never fed protein this early before, but the extremely mild winter to date has the bees reproducing in volume and they need protein.

I keep bees in Rappahannock County in northern Virginia at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains (zone 6b). I usually start protein in late February or early March. Once plants start producing pollen and the weather moderates I see no need to feed protein barring extended bad weather. This year I feel otherwise as I dread an extended March freeze.  I’m feeding using my penthouse configuration described in this Winterization post.

The feed hole makes placing paper cups filled with prepared feed easy.

Dadant AP23 pollen substitute
Dadant AP23 pollen substitute. Life requires protein and carbohydrates; pollen provides the protein while honey (nectar) provides the carbohydrates. Feeding protein jump starts the breeding season until natural pollen and moderate weather take over.


Preparing the protein feed
The pot on the right contains the pollen substitute mixed 1:1 with sugar. Mix about 1 pint of corn syrup for 2 quarts of dry mix. Using 1:1 sugar syrup instead of corn syrup works, but the result will become rock hard. The small paper cups hold about 3 weight-ounces of prepared feed. The insulated cups hold solid sugar blocks that bees can “chew”.
Bees eating sugar blocks within insulated penthouse
Looking into the top “penthouse” hive body insulated with shredded paper for winter. In the center are bees feeding on solid sugar blocks.
Bees eating sugar blocks (February 5, 2020)
Close-up of bees feeding on solid sugar blocks.
Protein feed added to feed hole
Paper cup filled with protein feed added to feed hole.

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