Back to the Roots of Nutrition: Our New Formula
Here at Healthy Bees we strive to make a product that is not only good for honey bees but also the environment which is in turn good for us. Our main protein source spirulina is the embodiment of that ideal. With a complete amino acid profile and teeming with nutrients it is one of the earths most perfect foods. Environmentally it also holds this accolade. It needs no pesticides, arable land, and requires few nutrients. It is sustainable agriculture and nutrition. We consider micro-algae cultivation to be the best route to a better future.
Thanks to Dr. Ricigliano and his work on spirulina in bee health we also know that spirulina has another function. It feeds gut microbes. His research has shown its effects are on par and sometimes possibly better than a naturally foraged pollen diet. It is a powerful prebiotic. However, another aspect to our formula I have thought for some time may be at odds to it. That is the essential oils. These provide wonderful functions. They can stimulate immune systems, suppress pathogens, and keep small hive beetles at bay. However, what we do not know is that if they interfere with the prebiotic effect of the patty. They are natural antibiotics. This can be a great thing, but everything is a tradeoff.
Is an essential oil suppressing Nosema better than a robust gut microbiome can?
Does a robust microbiome also stimulate the immune system in bees as it does in humans?
The research is still being done but so now in the literature that answer is unclear and will take some time. Personally I firmly believe in the power of the microbiome. Microbes power the world around us.
Field testing of our product without essential oils began around a year ago with commercial beekeepers. So far, the feedback has been great. Even greater royal jelly production than the original, better consumption and "fluffier bees". Which I normally correlate to good individual physiology due to nutrition.
So now we are proud to offer a strictly nutritional version of our product, formulated to provide superior gut health along with nutrition.
In the words of Hippocrates*
“Let the food be thy medicine and the medicine be thy food”.
For our original formula, research and customer feedback has shown excellent results with the essential oil patty over the years. Now the question is posed, which one do I get?
Here is the updated guidance on knowing which formula to feed (Use in conjunction with my Post on when to feed pollen sub).
If it is a cold dearth (ie winter) feed the Spirulina patty without essential oils if needed.
If you have hive beetles severe enough that they infect pollen substitutes, feed the essential oil patty.
For disease do not think any product can help. Yes, it may, but first you need to identify all the conditions surrounding and influencing the disease. I’m working on a document to understand that.
For the rest of the year if your goal is a strong gut microbiome and excellent nutrition and you do not have hoards of SHB either will work, but I recommend no essential oils.
Final Note on the Essential Oil patty
The only time we have received negative feedback (unwilling to consume) on the essential oil patty is when fed during a cold dearth or when mixed with many other essential oils. My thoughts behind this are it is just too much medicine. In a cold dearth with minimal to no pollen coming and the only protein source has essential oils it is a little too strong. The main time this would be an issue is pre almond pollination build up. Most non-commercial beekeepers do not feed during this time. But what about summer deaths? One of our largest queen breeding customers has been using the product for 2 years and always reports an increase in royal jelly production using it. I have fed it in my research hives for 4 years from March til October with wonderful results. I generally double my hives yearly with a 10% overwinter mortality.
Essential Oils are expensive so wit the new simplified formula we are able to pass the savings on to you!
*Hippocrates may or may not have actually said this though it is often attributed to him.