2008 Pollen Supplement Study


     I did some research on pollen supplements on the internet, and came across the FeedBee pollen supplement website in late 2007 / early 2008. I was intrigued by the claims put forth: that it’s an excellent pollen supplement and therefore, I inquired at our local bee supply depot to see if they have a supply of FeedBee. The answer was that they don’t carry a great amount of FeedBee because in their opinion, it’s not as good as the other pollen supplements on the market (namely, Global patties, and BeePro patties). They also said that any of the FeedBee that they would have on hand is quite old. After hearing that they don’t feel that FeedBee is as good as the other products on the market, I decided to do an intensive study with brood measurements to see if FeedBee really is as ineffective as was claimed.

     Knowing that the FeedBee supply at the beekeeping supply outlet was dated, I inquired about the expiry date from Mr. Saffari, the formulator of FeedBee. Mr. Saffari graciously informed me that he would send me a fresh bag of FeedBee for the tests. I also informed Mr. Saffari that I would be doing the study and would be taking weekly measurements on the size of the brood area in regular hives and nucs. After the first measurement, I found that weekly measurements would be impractical due to the uncooperative nature of the weather during the spring in Manitoba, therefore, measurements were made weather-permitting. I did not include any nucs in the study, instead, I only included full single-story over wintered hives. Please note that the hives were over wintered outside, according to the wintering method outlined on our wintering page.

    The BeePro and Global patties with 4% pollen were purchased from the bee supply outlet.


     As per previous intentions I completed the evaluation of the FeedBee pollen supplement in comparison with BeePro and Global pollen supplements. The schedule for the evaluation of the pollen supplements was as such:

    March 17 – First Measurement of capped brood.

    March 18 – Placement of first pollen supplement patties (BeePro, FeedBee and Global).

    April 8 – Second Measurement of capped brood.

    April 19 – Third Measurement of capped brood.

    April 27 – Fourth Measurement of capped brood.

    Last measurement was taken on April 27 due to making splits, where I broke up some of the test hives. Any measurements after this point would not have served the purpose of the study.

     Pollen supplement patties were replaced throughout the measurement period whenever the previous patties had been consumed.

   For each measurement, the capped brood in all the hives in the study was measured according to the horizontal expansion of the brood nest. This parameter was then used to determine the diameter of the circle of capped brood. Using the formula for area of a circle, I could get a rough estimate of the area encompassed by the capped brood. The brood areas of all the hives being fed a particular pollen supplement were then used to calculate the average brood area for that particular supplement. Measurements were taken in inches.


    As you can see from the graph below, the first measurement showed that none of the hives had any capped brood. By the second measurement, 21 days after placing the initial patties the hives being fed the Global patties averaged slightly higher than the other two supplements, with FeedBee being the lowest of the three. The third measurement showed that BeePro had jumped to the top spot, with  FeedBee in the middle, and then Global at the bottom. For the final measurement, FeedBee had the greatest amount of capped brood, BeePro had the second most amount, and Global was at the bottom. The hives being fed the Global supplement showed a gradual, constant increase in brood area, while the hives being fed FeedBee and BeePro showed greater growth near the end of the study. This allowed these two supplements to overtake the Global supplement in average brood area.


    For the first couple of batches, I had a hard time keeping the FeedBee soft enough so that the bees could easily consume it. The BeePro and Global patties stayed consistently soft, so I didn’t have  a problem with them hardening. Eventually, I came up with a way to keep the  FeedBee patties relatively soft, and this allowed for greater ease in bee consumption. I think this might explain the slower start the the FeedBee hives had in relation to the other two pollen supplements. It is imperative to mix the FeedBee into a slushy mixture, and then allow it to stand overnight before forming the patties. This allows greater absorption, penetration and retention of the moisture in the FeedBee patties.


    This study was done at a small scale, using hives headed by queens from three different lines. I strongly caution against taking this study as a complete authority on an evaluation of the three aforementioned pollen supplements. As much as I tried to minimize variables, there were still some, as previously mentioned: the different queens and their ages.


    I would recommend to the makers of FeedBee that they try and incorporate their pollen substitute into patty form. This would give them greater control in delivering a consistent product that is easily taken by the bees.


    On a primitive basis, this study demonstrated that FeedBee is at least as competitive in increasing brood production as the commonly available pollen supplements BeePro and Global; however, before making concrete changes to the pollen supplement I use in the Apiary, I intend to complete this study again on a larger scale next spring.

    I thank Mr. Abdolreza Saffari, and Mr. Lance Waldner for their cooperation, contribution and collaboration in doing this study. Special thanks to Mr. Saffari for his contribution in providing the FeedBee supplement for this study.

   Thank-You for your visit!