ADVERTORIAL: ECROTEK BEEKEEPING SUPPLIES
Want faster and more consistent build-up of honey bee colonies in spring? What about, continued hive strength through autumn and into winter? The evolution of pollen substitute products is constant and now, with the recent introduction of Ultra Bee to the New Zealand market, Ecrotek Beekeeping Supplies has a product that is proving to be superior in assisting hive strength.
“This product supersedes others I have used by a long, long way, in terms of helping produce royal jelly and getting brood going,” says Don Tweeddale, managing director of Tweeddale’s Honey and a beekeeper of more than 60 years’ experience.
Ultra Bee has been assisting North American beekeepers build up hive strength for decades by providing the protein, beneficial vitamins, lipids and minerals honey bees need to thrive and raise brood when natural pollen is not available in sufficient quantities. Of course, that is largely in early spring and autumn, but also when hives are in areas where mānuka dominates. Tweeddale’s Honey have been quick to trial the new product through Ecrotek at those times of year, and in “mānuka hives”. Ultra Bee is far from the first pollen substitute Don Tweeddale has trialled in his long career, but it is by far the best.
“For us it is critical because, for so many years before getting this protein into them, we would end up with a strong hive in the winter, but come early September you think ‘where did the bees go?’. A massive decline with only two or three frames of brood and struggle, struggle, struggle all the way through,” Tweeddale says.
“We fed in August and it extended the life of the bee out at least another couple of weeks. Those bees were able to look after the new cycle of bees coming through which meant we were able to avoid the massive drop in bee numbers in September which we had seen in comparison to other years, using other pollen substitutes.”
Ultra Bee comes in 5kg and 15kg boxes of pre-mixed patties, with the recommendation to feed ½ - 1 patty to each hive. Patties are simply and quickly placed on the top bars of hives, or between brood boxes when two or more such boxes are present.
“It is very attractive to the bees. They consumed it all rapidly. Other products they can leave the outer-edges to dry out after only consuming the centre,” Tweeddale says.
Initially the Taihape-based business trialled Ultra Bee in 3000 of their 19,000 hives two seasons ago.
“By mid to late October they were wanting to swarm all over the place, whereas at the other sites we were struggling to get enough brood to build up the weak hives and make them strong,” the managing director explains.
With the improvement in those 3000 hives so obvious, last season Tweeddale’s Honey used Ultra Bee right across their extensive operation, and not just in spring.
“Autumn has even more beneficial results, particularly hives that have been on mānuka. We tried it on 1000 hives on mānuka sites and those hives never went back in strength. We fed in January as the brood was coming back to five frames a hive, then by the time they were in their winter quarters in February and March the brood production was back to a normal seven frames.”
Maintaining hive strength heading into winter is critical to set a business up for the following season and relying on natural pollen sources at that time of year can be risky, especially for hives on mānuka, the veteran beekeeper explains.
“Anyone who moves onto mānuka, if they don’t get them back to clover or another pollen source in autumn, will have a huge decline in their bee production.”
The benefit of getting quality protein, vitamins, lipids and minerals into honey bee colonies is all about aiding royal jelly production Tweeddale explains, and Ultra Bee is the best natural pollen substitute he has used in his long career.
“This product supersedes others I have used by a long, long way, in terms of helping produce royal jelly and getting that brood going. The bees consume it, and it is so nutritious that the young bees secrete royal jelly and get the larvae growing. That encourages the queen to lay more eggs. If your pollen is deficient, the queen will lay the eggs, but the bees will remove the eggs because there isn’t the royal jelly to feed them. If you have nutritious pollen though, be it gorse or Ultra Bee, they secrete royal jelly and the hive goes forward in leaps and bounds,” he says, adding “Whatever you are focusing on, that extra hive strength is a big plus.”
Ultra Bee can be ordered through www.ecrotek.co.nz or lager commercial orders can be discussed by contacting Tom, ph 027 305 1222.