Feeding pollen in mid spring cold weather

I picked up my nuc a week ago and set the bees up in their permanent hive. Due to the unusually cold weather and not wanting to get the brood chilled, I haven’t opened the hive and checked on them yet. I’ve been waiting for a warmer day. I’ve watched the outer hive activity and I’ve seen some pollen going in, but I don’t actually know what their reserves are inside the hive (if any). I’m getting anxious about that with all this prolonged cold weather, rain and wind I’m wondering if it would be wise to feed the bees a little pollen? It’s raining today so they can’t forage.

They will probably need 1:1 white sugar syrup more than pollen. that is what I would feed them

Ok, thanks Dawn. They have 1:1 white sugar syrup, but they’re not drinking it very fast. At least according to all the times I’ve read “the bees will drink a quart a day, or a gallon a day…”, they haven’t drank that much, but there are bees in the top feeder.

The hive front entrance looks like a busy airport landing…lots of bees flying around and going in and out. I’ve watched a lot to try to determine if it’s my bees or robber bees trying to force their way in. I have the reducer on since it’s been cool and windy (rainy today). There aren’t bees attached to or walking all over the hive trying to find a way in, like I read robbers do that aren’t oriented to the hive entrance, And then there’s orientation flights…so much to decipher. I don’t know, I wish I could see some actual daily hive activity to know what is normal or not.

Hi Carol, your nuc will have two solid frames of food plus the arcs on the brood frames, so I’m sure they’ll be okay. If they aren’t taking much syrup that probably means they’re finding decent nectar sources around. Or, as Dawn mentioned in your other post, it might be too cold for sugar syrup and it’s best to switch to granulated sugar.


Where are you, more precisely? Probably a lot of different microclimates in your county.

The advice might be more accurate if we can get better weather information!


@chau06 location is N/W rural Vacaville, Solano County, California (95688)
Today’s weather is partly cloudy, and 66F at about 2pm with 9-10 mph wind

I was hoping to do a quick hive inspection about 2pm.

Not sure what the weather has been like the last few days but looks like you have some good weather coming up.

The bees will definitely fly in the 50’s and even 40’s for a good nectar flow, 60’s and 70’s are ideal as far as overall colony energy requirements and higher than that, the colony needs to assign more resources to hive cooling.

I’m sure that you have a lot of stuff blooming in the Central Valley, although you might be past the peak flow for the orchards.

The Californians might be able to provide more specific advice.

We have had a bumper spring down here in SoCal. The desert has had a “superbloom” event, and the bees are all over the agave flowers in our neighborhood. I am in a crowded suburban area, so I don’t know about crops etc.


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Thanks for that info. Yes, the orchards have pretty much bloomed already. I’m trying to learn about the nectar flows for my area. I think we have vetch and clover coming up and star thistle later in the summer and eucalyptus towards November. Still trying to find info on all of that. We get tons of star thistle around here and we have lots of eucalyptus too.

Here in SoCal, the eucalypts are incredibly unreliable. They don’t flower every year, and they don’t tell me what makes them flower profusely, compared with what makes them mediocre. About 5 years ago, we had a superb flow in November/December, but I haven’t seen anything like that since.

The citrus is just about over, and so is the avocado. However, rosemary, lavender, ice plant and african blue basil are all going great guns right now! :blush:

There is a pretty good book on California nectar plants, sorted by season. Let me see if I can find a link…

Here it is. Very good book:

I know that you are north of the target area of the book, and inland, but I bet that you would still find it useful. I don’t like his ideas on drone culling for varroa management, but otherwise it is very good


Lol, the slightly older version, 2014, is on Amazon for only $1,599.97 :laughing:

Does anyone know what this low ground cover type plant/weed is? It’s everywhere out here. At first I thought it was a clover, but this has fluffy blooms like little cotton balls.

Thanks for all that info Dawn!!

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You could probably call tomorrow and see what price it is direct from the author. He never sold it on Amazon to my knowledge - perhaps self-published? Obviously the audience is limited for such a book, even though the San Diego Beekeeping Society has over 1,000 members…!

e-mail: :jeremy@calbeebook.com

Phone: 805-540-4502 (Text Messaging Preferred)

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Regarding the flower that looks like cotton, i have an app called Seek. You take a picture of the plant or animal and it classifies it, and it is free.


Google image search is pretty good too. It gave me this:



Wooly clover, how adorable! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thanks so much for the help with the plant! I thought it was some type of clover, but the ‘wooliness’ of the bloom was throwing me. Bees don’t seem to care for this type of clover.

After a week, (yesterday) I inspected the new nuc hive for the first time and I saw a good amount of capped brood, but not a lot of honey and nothing where there should be an arc of pollen/bee bread between the honey and the brood. It was raining and windy again this morning. Very overcast now. I went with my gut and got them some pollen patties. The feed store said they were selling out of pollen patties this week, so hope I’m doing the right thing.

Also, only one of the new foundationless frames I added (out of 5) had a half moon of nicely drawn comb in the middle with a small amount of larva in some of the cells. Haven’t seen the queen yet, but she must be in there. We are due for some sun Wednesday, so I’ll take another look at things then when it’s warmer and I have better light.


Well done. Nice report, I think you did well. The pollen patty sounds like a good idea, based on what you saw. I would be tempted to leave them for another week before checking again. They will probably take that long to eat the patty. I don’t know if you have small hive beetles in your region, but if you do, I would consider just giving them half of a patty, otherwise the SHB will infest it very fast! :astonished:

Thanks @Dawn_SD. Glad you said that because I was thinking to start with half a patty. It sure helps to get confirmation from someone with experience! Although I’ve actually taken the Flow course, and watched several state university beekeeping videos online, countless youtube videos and devoured Randy Oliver’s website, I feel like I’m just fumbling along trying to learn in real time with real bees. I just pray my hive family makes it through to next Spring!


If you bought a lot of patties, you can freeze them indefinitely for the next time you need them.

The fact that you are worrying and reading a lot is very reassuring to me. It means that you care deeply and you will be a great beekeeper in due course, just like @Eva has become. Have confidence, don’t meddle too much, but care and intervene when you see something worrying.


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The store only had 2 single packs of patties, so I put the rest in the refrigerator until I see how much and fast they go through the half patty I gave them today. It’ll go in the freezer if it’s not needed :+1:

You’re so kind and helpful! What would I do without this awesome forum!?
I spent many months trying to learn about bees and beekeeping before I got a hive. Now I see why so many experienced beekeepers say, if you can, spend about a year hanging out with a beekeeper and watch and learn. That’s such good advice. No matter how many videos you watch or how many books you read and courses you take, it doesn’t prepare you to be a fully capable beekeeper. I don’t ever want to cause harm to the bees because of my ignorance. I still spend all my free time learning because I do care deeply for the bees and I have so much respect for these marvelous little creatures. My colony is very sweet too…they’re very calm when I open the hive :slight_smile: