Honey Bee Health Coalition Helps Beekeepers Unlock The Secrets Of Hive Nutrition With New Honey Bee Nutrition Guide

by | Feb 1, 2024


Beekeepers now have a valuable resource at their fingertips with the release of the latest comprehensive Honey Bee Nutrition Guide from the Honey Bee Health Coalition. The guide is a review and manual for supplemental feeding in bee hives, giving beekeepers a simple approach to the complex and nuanced world of honey bee nutrition.

“Understanding honey bee nutrition is no simple task, given the intricate social structure and diverse needs within a colony,” said Dr. Priya Basu, Assistant Professor of Pollinator Health and Apiculture at Mississippi State University and the principal author of the Guide. “The Honey Bee Nutrition Guide addresses these challenges head-on, providing practical insights for beekeepers to navigate the seasonal variations and colony requirements effectively.”

“Honey bee nutrition is a complex topic that varies based on landscape, time of year, and beekeeping objectives,” said Ana Heck, Apiculture Extension Educator at Michigan State University. “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.”

Honey bee gathering pollen.

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.

“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,” said George Hansen of Foothills Honey Company and member of the guide’s review committee. “This essential resource will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of sustainable beekeeping practices.”

Two bee keepers examining interior of a hive.

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

For a copy of the Honey Bee Nutrition Guide and more information, please visit https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/nutritionguide/.

About the Honey Bee Health Coalition

Honey Bee Health Coalition logo.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers, brands and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Its 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.