How Different Supplements Affect Honey Bee Productivity

Jenn Hoskins
30th May, 2024

How Different Supplements Affect Honey Bee Productivity

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Injibara University evaluated the impact of different supplemental feeds on honey bee colonies during food scarcity
  • Colonies fed with a diet including stinging nettle (T4) showed the highest performance, with superior feed intake, nectar, pollen, honey areas, and honey yield
  • Colonies on the T1 diet, containing roasted barley and spiced pea powder, had the lowest performance indicators and honey yield
The productivity and well-being of honey bee colonies are highly dependent on the nutrients available in their hives. A recent study conducted by Injibara University aimed to evaluate the impact of different supplemental feeds on honey bee performance during periods of food scarcity[1]. This research is crucial as it provides insights for beekeepers on how to enhance the productivity and profitability of their colonies. The study involved thirty honey bee colonies, which were divided into five groups: one control group without supplementation and four treatment groups with different supplemental diets. Each group was further subdivided based on colony strength (weak, strong, and very strong). The treatment diets included combinations of sugar syrup, barley powder, spiced pea powder, sorghum powder, bakery yeast, skimmed milk powder, and an infusion of stinging nettle with kerefa. The performance of these colonies was measured over two phases: the dry season (March to April 2021) and the rainy season (July to October 2021). Key performance indicators included feed intake, space occupied by pollen, nectar, and honey in the comb, and overall honey yield. The findings revealed significant differences in performance among the various treatment groups (p<0.0001). The diet labeled T4, which included an infusion of stinging nettle, showed the highest levels of crude protein (18.15%) and carbohydrates (92.15%). Colonies receiving this diet exhibited superior performance with a feed intake of 98.3%, a nectar area of 54.3 cm², a pollen area of 68.7 cm², a honey area of 311.2 cm², and a honey yield of 7 kg. This resulted in a net profit of 51.54 USD per colony. In contrast, the colonies that received the T1 diet, which contained roasted barley powder and spiced pea powder, showed the lowest performance indicators. Their feed intake was only 54.7%, with a nectar area of 37.6 cm², a pollen area of 48.8 cm², a honey area of 254.3 cm², and a honey yield of 2.8 kg, resulting in a net profit of 18.81 USD per colony. The superior performance of the T4 diet can be attributed to the inclusion of stinging nettle, which is known for its high nutritional and medicinal value[2][3]. Stinging nettle is rich in proteins, fibers, vitamins, and antioxidants, making it a beneficial supplement for honey bee colonies. Previous studies have highlighted the nutritional benefits of stinging nettle in various applications, including its use as a food source and its medicinal properties[2][3]. Moreover, this study aligns with earlier research that emphasizes the importance of protein-rich diets for honey bee colonies. For instance, a study investigating the effect of different pollen sources on colony performance found that pollen from Papaver somniferum (opium poppy) significantly improved colony strength and wintering ability[4]. This underscores the critical role of protein in enhancing bee longevity and overall colony health. In conclusion, the study by Injibara University demonstrates that supplemental feeds, particularly those containing stinging nettle, can significantly enhance the productivity and profitability of honey bee colonies during dearth periods. This research provides valuable insights for beekeepers, enabling them to make informed decisions about supplemental feeding to ensure the well-being and productivity of their colonies.

AgricultureEnvironmentAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Effect of various supplements on productive performance of honey bees, in the south Wollo Zone, Ethiopia.

Published 29th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Comparison of nutritional properties of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) flour with wheat and barley flours.

3) Nutritional and pharmacological importance of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.): A review.

4) The Effect of Supplementary Feeding with Different Pollens in Autumn on Colony Development under Natural Environment and In Vitro Lifespan of Honey Bees.

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