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In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at the protein patties we’re currently using for supplementing the protein intake of our own colonies. In a future blog post we’ll also address the importance of protein, but for now we’re going to focus on the actual recipe.
Please note that the formula was originally conceived by Randy Oliver and published on scientificbeekeeping.com; we made some changes based on our own experience and ended up with the following ingredients:
- Egg yolk powder 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs)
- Soy protein isolate 2 kg (4.4 lbs)
- Brewer’s yeast 22 kg (48.5 lbs)
- Sugar 27 kg (59.5 lbs)
- Citric acid 500g (1.1 lbs)
- Apple cider vinegar 500ml
- Cinnamon 600g (1.32 lbs)
- Corn oil 2l
- Water 12l
Note: please keep in mind that stirring such a dense composition requires a serious workout, so we highly recommend using an electric multipurpose/cement mixer.
In order to prepare the patties, we have to heat the water to a temperature of around 50 degrees Celsius. After that we will add the sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved. We then add the apple cider vinegar and citric acid, along with the corn oil, egg yolk powder, soy protein isolate, cinnamon and finally the brewer’s yeast. The mixture must be continuously stirred until it’s completely uniform. After that we proceed to pack the patties in plastic bags to avoid dehydration.
You can replace the egg yolk powder with 2 kg of whey and egg white protein concentrate (85% protein, sugar-free and unflavoured). We only use 2 kg instead of 2.5 because of the higher protein percentage of the whey concentrate. Also, do not use soy flour instead of soy protein isolate; soy flour contains some compounds that are toxic for bees.
Supplementing with protein patties
This particular recipe has a protein percentage of around 20%; thus, it shouldn’t be used in large quantities at once. As a rule of thumb, we use around 250g of paste for swarms and 500g for the very strong colonies. Depending on the pollen availability, we use around 3 or 4 patties per colony in early spring, in July (during drouth) and in the month of September.
Protein patties are pretty demanding on the bee’s intestines, so in order to avoid any digestive problems you can add tea (infusions) from certain herbs that can help the digestive system. The benefits of protein supplementing are significant, there is a notable difference between a colony that has received additional protein and one that hasn’t.
Below you’ll find a series of pictures taken during the preparation of our protein patties: