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Unbleached White Flour to suplement pollen


I recently put a cup of unbleached white flour on a couple of sheets of newspaper placed on the top frames of the supers of 4 of my hives as an experiment after seeing it being used on YouTube when there was a dearth of pollen added to YouTube by notable bee keeper is the U.S…
My location doesn’t have a dearth of nectar or pollen at any time of the year so I was surprised to see that after 3 weeks all that was left was the paper, I found the flour among the stores of the pollen in the frames.
There are other hives in my apiary as a control test. so far as I am concerned it confirmed what I was told 40 plus years ago by a commercial bee keeper who used it as a booster for the colonies at the end of winter.


I think @Michael_Bush has posted in the past that bees will even gather fine sand or dirt in a pollen dearth. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Flour is only 8-11% protein. Not very nutritious. Not sure if bees have the amylase needed to break down the starches in it either. Anyway, this argument could go on for a long time… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Skim milk, yeast, soy flour, vitamin c powder, powdered egg. Look hard enough and you’ll find almost anything.
As Pete says pollen patties are only recommended to boost numbers not as a winter treat. Feed sugar water to build up stores for winter
If I ever did need to suppliment for some reason I would make a pattie mix not just one component.
Like Dawn says bees will take almost anything in times of need even if it is not nutritious.


I do suspect that he was tongue in cheek with that statement, I haven’t seen or heard of bees collecting sand or dirt and storing it. I have heard and seen bees licking the moisture from dirt I I think probably for the mineral content. Sand has 0% protein but if you don’t wish to feed them protein when needed that is your choice, we are all free to do what we believe is best for our bees.
There is no argument from me, I said that I would put it to the test and now have given my results for those who need to feed their colonies.

@Skeggley Spot on mate, my mentor 40+ years ago made up his own mix as does his son now where there is a shortage of pollen and nectar over winter. It is mainly unbleached white flour. His son tells me he paid a lot of cash to have commercial ‘bee food’ tested to find even copious amounts of salt so he continues with his Dads formula.
Thanks for reading with an open mind, that is how we learn how to best care for our bees.


A. Queen bee breeder here on Kangaroo Island makes up his own patties with many ingredients and soya bean flour that has the oil taken out, he then puts it in a thermo mix and feeds it to his bees…his brood frames looked fantastic


Soy Flour (soy beans are a legume, the others are grains) has significantly more protein than wheat flour, rice flour etc. So I can believe it might make decent protein patties for bees. :blush:

Can you tell that I might have a gut problem and be obsessed about certain foods? :blush: :wink:


It is funny how many of the Ole Boys won’t use the commercially made stuff, probably because they can’t even find out what is in it or they know their bees do well on their ‘secret’ blends.
Cheers Snapper


Maybe there is also more to it than just the protein content, I don’t know. BTW the flour is for the bees so no worries about your diet.:grin: :grinning::grinning:


I also mix wheat flour with brewers yeast, powdered milk, pea or lentle flour, sugar and whey protein. Anything high protein low fat that I can mill into powder that they will take. It cost the same as commercially bought patties so when then the fun of experimenting fades I will go that route. They also get some fresh fruit.


At least making your own mix you know the quality and what is in it and that is important. I don’t know the U.S. scene but here in Australia we are being offered more often products made in China that is often found to be a copy of ‘original’ makers but is also found to be sub-standard. A local beekeeper supplier buys most of his stock from China because it is cheaper but his bee wax foundation for example has a very pale yellow color to it and if you feel it it seems slippery to touch. It doesn’t have the smell of bees wax and there is claims that it has paraffin wax in the mix. I guess it is a case of buyer beware when profit comes into it.
Cheers Bubba


Wow, very interesting: Do you live in a desert/tundra? I’ve never seen a pollen dearth; even through the N.E. USA winter there is pollen coming in on the warm days.


Sub tropical coastal Queensland in Australia Ed. So there is a flow on most of the year from our natural bush but I don’t mind giving a helping hand to a new hive. We have not really got a Winter or Summer as both seasons are bee friendly but we do cop a wet season and a dry season. If I have to put on jeans to work my hives it is ‘Winter’ otherwise it is shorts and T shirt for 11 months of the year.


The only reason Beekeepers in coastal Australia needed to feed protein/pollen would be to strengthen the bees for the early spring almond pollination. Or other pollination, not too sure about it in detail. The pollination contracts require strong colonies.
Apart from that, almond pollinator bees get weakened and need good pollen after the event.
My bees get by just fine without any supplements. I do feed some syrup to new nucs, but usually just for a week over winter, or after a robbing event.

On the recent Australian Bee Congress I saw several beekeepers buy and carry away large bags of bee food with Chinese pollen as major ingredient.
Glad my bees don’t need that stuff. Chinese pollen, no way!


With big farms growing one or two crops it is easy to have pollen and nectar dearths.


So very true Bubba, the larger the specialized the farms become in crops the more the bees will get bounced about with heavy flows and dearths and even struggle to survive.
Cheers mate.


I hope you don’t take this as a debate or criticism but coastal Australia is a huge area with each area having its own climates. You are lucky in Byron Bay to have a diverse flora that some areas don’t have. Although Almond pollination is extremely well known to knock hives about just about any specialty crop pollination will leave a hive wanting after the job is done.

Hives in a general and varied Flora will ‘self adjust’ to what is available but some of our coastal areas still have its up and downs as you would know. Down in the Hawkesbury for example it was imperative to give supplements to boost the hives for the Cape Weed and Paterson’s Curse in the Mudgee area, or for pollination in the peach and Orange orchards.

I guess the beekeepers at the congress are easily swayed by a slick talking salesman. I would think of Chinese bee food the same as Chinese honey and prefer to mix my own then am at least aware of what I am feeding my bees.
Bees robbing other hives is usually a sign of a dearth and feeding a supplement is a sound option to help reduce the bees having to go down that path.


I need to add that a dearth is usually nectar related, rarely pollen. Like others there’s always plenty of pollen here year round which can be seen on the bees. Unlike nectar. I couldn’t see the point of feeding anything other than sugar syrup during a nectar dearth.


I agree 100% with you for a nectar dearth, syrup or honey is the answer then.

My hives were bringing in pollen when I did my test recently and they still consumed the flour I put in the hives for them which was a bit of a surprise, even when Wattle was in full bloom. I was wanting to do that test in our mid winter but got caught up with other things. Maybe the bees saw it as ‘easy pickings’ for the start of Spring here.
Cheers Skegs