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Can I reuse old pollen frames for new colonies?

There is no reason to toss out those old pollen frames or remove stored pollen for new colonies.

It has been said many times to throw the frames out “they won’t use old pollen.”

We should ask ourselves a few questions about this practice before wasting a perfectly good frame of pollen. Here are some observations I’ve made and a few studies that influence what I do with “stored pollen frames.”

  1. Beekeepers regularly supplement colonies with “fake pollen substitute patties” made from corn, wheat, and soy scraps. Yummo. What is more appealing about this than stored bee bread/pollen?
  2. When you buy a nucleus colony or a “start” from a beekeeper they typically give you a frame of “stored” bee pollen, which may or may not be old pollen (so – how do you know? you don’t) and that pollen is likely from the early spring or contains stores from the previous winter if it was an “overwintered” nucleus colony. So why do they tell me to throw the frame out from a dead-out but supply me one from a living colony?
  3. What is chemically different one frame to the other based on age? Do honeybees actually have a way to “expiry date” pollen stores?

So – here are some links to review the science behind pollen stores, please review them and let them help you make an informed decision about whether you can use those old frames or not. Based on my evaluation – that is some very valuable resource – and a great benefit to a colony that will need as much help as it can get when starting over fresh/new.

The Benefits of Pollen to Honey Bees

Hive-stored pollen of honey bees: many lines of evidence are consistent with pollen preservation, not nutrient conversion

Honey bees preferentially consume freshly-stored pollen

How do you introduce a virgin queen?

Introducing virgin queens can be tricky, but we have been very successful using an introduction method developed by Cory Stevens from Stevens Bee Company.  (Special thanks for compiling this FAQ by Matthew Kobe at Kobe Apiaries)

1. Remove the queen from the hive which you want to requeen.

2. Return to the colony in 8-9 days and remove all queen cells that the colony has started. This will make the colony hopelessly queenless as they do not have any young larva to develop a queen from. Be sure to shake or brush the bees off of the frames to ensure you do not miss any queen cells. If you miss even one cell, it is likely that the bees will kill the virgin queen you are trying to introduce to them. 

3. Add the virgin queen in a candy cage. You can choose to tape over the candy plug to extend the amount of time it takes for the bees to release the virgin queen. 

4. Check back in 3-5 days to ensure that the queen was released from the candy cage. If she has not been released, manually release her into the colony. 

5. Check back in 2-3 weeks for a mated queen. Do not check back too early as this can trigger the colony to kill the young queen.

Why do you charge for memberships?

The simple answer is, members who are committed to the mission and willing to invest are our biggest asset as an organization. Funds are used to develop beekeeper education, invite monthly speakers, and subsidize the financial expense for our media presence. Future programs include nuc exchange programs, mentorship, a developing forum, and earn-a-nuc program for mentees are also subsidized by these funds.

The SBGMI is not-for-profit but is listed in Michigan as Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan, LLC. Therefore we are tax liable.

Is the SBGMI a treatment-free beekeeping club?

Short Answer: No. The guild will focus on education, fostering, and support of hobbyists and sideliners to propagate local sustainable survivor honeybee genetics and improved drone breeding populations that complement chemical-free and survival queen rearing practices.

But – Treatment-Free beekeeping is 100% accepted in the SBGMI scope of practice and welcome you and your bees – as you join us on our mission, to see an alternative to the permeation of prophylactic and systemic chemical treatment education and practice for mites in modern beekeeping. The simple objective is to equip beekeepers with knowledge to reduce the dependence on these toxic interventions and facilitate sustainable beekeeping that trends toward better bred bees.

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