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Protein is the main ingredient in pollen supplements for honey bees, and proteins are made up of amino acids.

Although honey provides energy for flight and for warming the hive, proteins and other minor constituents in pollen provide the essential nutrients for continued good health in older bees, for reproduction, and the necessary building blocks for development of young bees.

Researchers have determined the essential amino acids for bee health and also the proportions of each which are ideal in a bee diet.

Proteins from different sources may contain greater or lesser amounts of each amino acid and some proteins may be entirely unsuitable for bee feed.  Unless all the essential amino acids are present and in approximately the correct proportions, the bees will be unable to use the feed efficiently.

The exact ideal proportion of amino acids required by a hive of bees probably varies with the season and the activities of the bees, and with variations in what they are able to bring in from the fields.  Therefore, going to great expense in attempting to match the needs with high precision is probably unnecessary.  Coming close -- within +/- 50% is probably the best one can hope for.  Surprisingly, some brands of two common and inexpensive feeds, soy flour and brewers yeast, come much closer than that.  Moreover, these two items contain well over 40% protein and are well accepted by bees.  These two components, together with sufficient sugar and water to make a thick paste or patty make a very successful and inexpensive diet.

Is higher protein necessarily better in a bee diet?  Not necessarily, what matters is what you pay for what protein you get. What may be more important is knowing what else is in the diet and whether those other ingredients are actually good for bees. Keep Reading...

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