How to Make Pollen Patties

We feed our bees pollen in the form of pollen patties for two reasons: 1) To get the queen laying in late winter, around mid-February, so that the colony’s population is at a healthy level when spring arrives. 2) To give a nuc colony the boost it needs throughout the summer so that it can go into winter, again, with a healthy population of bees. (We also feed our nucs sugar syrup throughout our cool, short summers.) We wouldn’t feed our bees pollen or sugar if Mother Nature could provide for them all year round. But Mother Nature is a cruel mistress in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Spring often doesn’t make an appearance until the end of June. So it’s a no-brainer: We feed them. (July 11/13 addendum: But don’t overfed them.)

Do an online search for “How to make pollen patties,” and you’ll find more than a few methods and recipes for pollen patties. The following is our method, not necessarily the best method, but probably one of the easiest, which is why I like it. We fed our bees with these pollen patties last year and everything was okay. (But feel free to let me know if I’m doing something I shouldn’t.) Here’s a video that shows exactly how it’s done:

Mix thick sugar syrup with pollen supplement powder (we use Bee Pro Pollen Supplement that we get from Bee Maid) until it’s like Play-Doh, dry but doughy. Spread it out flat on wax paper, cut it into patties and lay it over the top bars in your hive with the wax paper. Sometimes I add real pollen in the form of pellets to the mix, but I forgot to do it during the video.

P.S.: Another title for this post could be How to Make Sugar Syrup. The first part of the video demonstrates the process. But for those who came in late, here’s a summary: In the spring, the sugar syrup mixture is a light 1:1 mixture (1 part sugar, 1 part sugar). For feeding nucs and topping off the hives before winter, it’s 2:1 (2 parts sugar, 1 part water, or even thicker). Add a small amount of anise extract to give the syrup that extra jolt that compels the bees dig into it. See Don’t Feed Your Bees Grocery Store Honey for a little more info.

Pollen patties wrapped in plastic. (Jan. 27, 2012.)

Pollen patties wrapped in plastic. (Jan. 27, 2012.)

P.S. (Feb. 16/12): Check out Dry Sugar Check Up and Pollen Patties to see how I added the pollen patties.

ADDENDUM (Nov. 12/13): Read Pollen patties: when and why? from Honey Bee Suite for more info on why the bees need pollen, when and if to provide pollen patties, etc.

NOV. 30/15: I’ve learned that it’s not a bad idea to wrap the pollen patties in wax paper, top and bottom. It helps to prevent the patty from drying out. A few slits in the wax paper will give the bees access. I also spray down my dry patties with sugar syrup to moisten them. The extra moisture isn’t a problem for hives that have moisture quilts or quilt boxes installed.

7 thoughts on “How to Make Pollen Patties

  1. hi I’m in N.S. and i am wondering if you still use the same patties recipe as in the video
    another question i got for you is have you tried feeding patties from fall to a week hive ?
    my main problem i keep seeing repeating is the lack of bee’s to produce lots of wax so that they can multiply into a large colony

  2. Dan, I suppose you could say I still use the same recipe for my pollen patties. I mix powdered pollen supplement with sugar syrup and a bit of anise extract, nothing too complicated. I used to throw in some real pollen when I had it, but I can’t be bothered anymore. My bees never seem to be short on real pollen, anyway. There’s always pollen somewhere in the hive, but placing the patties right above the brood nest — above the top bars — makes it easier for the bees to get at it while the weather is still cold.

    I don’t precisely understand the rest of your comment, but to reiterate what I said in this post, I add pollen patties in the late winter (even though I’m not convinced it’s necessary). I also give pollen patties to nucs if the bees will take it. They don’t always take it. I don’t think that’s a common practice, but I’ve done many times times and, at least in my neck of the woods, it seems to give small colonies a boost so they’re strong going into winter.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the bees not producing wax so they can multiply. I could be wrong, and I often am, but I’ve never heard of pollen, or pollen patties, having anything to do with wax production. Feeding the bees sugar syrup can trigger wax production, not pollen patties. You can feed the bees sugar syrup which gives them the resources to build wax comb and subsequently more room for the queen to lay and thus multiply.

    I’m not sure I answered your questions, but there go. Good luck.

  3. lol ty i believe you have answered my questions even if they ware poorly done as questions
    the second one if i am correct is you don’t believe in feeding pollen patties from fall to spring but i could be mistaken

    the last question was it seems like i keep getting poor genetics or something cause i feed theme sugar water all summer and it still seems like they don’t build enough wax comb for the queen to lay a lot

  4. Correct, Dan, I don’t feed pollen patties from the fall to the spring. The earliest I feed pollen is in the late winter. But I know some beekeepers who add what some call “Candy Boards” to their hives just as winter sets in, and pollen is often mixed in with the candy. It would take me a while to explain why I don’t do that, but the bottom line is I don’t think it’s necessary, and it may even be bad for the bees to give them solid food (pollen) when it’s too cold for them to perform cleansing flights.

  5. sounds good to me its what i was thinking glad to see I’m on the right page
    I’m glad i found you lol its pretty hard to find info on honey bee’s in our part of the world i just need to find some really good stock
    keep up the good work i love your video’s

  6. I was wondering if you would provide the measurements of the ingredients used to make your pollen patties. Their consistency is better than some I’ve seen. Thank you.

  7. Hi Linda — I don’t have the exact measurements. I add sugar syrup to the powdered pollen supplement until it’s a consistency that seems right. Somewhere in the video I provide approximate measurements, but again, I’m working without a net most of the time, though I’d aim for wet patties over dry if I could.

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