A few years ago i started feeding pollen and pollen substitute to my bees especially in and around the Queen rearing areas. Over the years i had noticed a differences in the over all performance of the hives and their health. As im not a honey producer and concentrate on queens and bees.
I started feeding pollen and pollen substitute mixed together in a ratio of 85% Ulta Bee pollen substitute and 15% natural pollen collected and dried at different times of the year at random.
The feeding of this mix was left for the bees at all times of the season (including Summer)
Even when there was a constant flow of naturally collected pollen coming into the hives Bees were still taking pollen from the pollen feeders i had placed out for the bees (Approx 10Kg per week in each area)
Studies have shown a 30% decrease in protein levels in pollen since 1960 as shown in the graph in line with rising levels of C02
Credit Graph: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org
Average and variation (±s.e.) with time (1842–1998) in estimated protein concentration (a) and carbon to nitrogen ratio (b) for historical samples from floral (anthers and pollen) tissue for S. canadensis from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Atmospheric CO2 (Ca) for a given set of sample dates were obtained prior to 1960 from ; after 1960 using http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/. Each point is the average of approximately 6–40 samples by year from different biogeographic regions within North America. See Material and methods for additional details.
The benefits i have seen feeding pollen at all times of the year is ( Not Scientific ) in my own observations is stronger healthier bees that perform better for my way of bee keeping! That overwinter well a build up fast in the spring.
Queens & Drones
Healthy Queens are more readily accepted by hives than below par Queens so the more better resources the cell builders have and healthy young bees to feed the developing Queen the better the virgin Queen.
The Drones from a well nourished colony play a very important role. During times of dearth the mature drones are normally the first to be evicted from the hive as they are a drain on the hives resources
So for successful Queen rearing drones are a vital part in ensuring that as many Queens are fully mated as possible and not superseded a few short weeks or months later.
If you Instrumentally Inseminate Queens you know how difficult semen collection can be finding mature drones when you need them to collect semen.
So the more resources the bees have the better the chances of the hives holding on to the mature drones and the better chances of Queens in the area being better mated.
Varroa mites also have their part to play in bee and queen health but that’s another can of worms along with pesticides.
The feeding of extra Pollen to the bees has to be considered carefully depending of a few factors a few being the area you’re in how and why you keep your bees whether it is for bees and queens or honey production.
For me personally the area i’m in with the lack of forage and my main focus being Queens feeding pollen substitute makes perfect sense.