Sustainable Forages as an Alternative to Supplemental Feeding

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $9,798.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Ryan Higgs
Blue Ridge Apiaries

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: rapeseed
  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: feed rations, stocking rate
  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study

    Proposal summary:

    Supplemental feed can be one of the most financially significant inputs for honey producers in the South.  Feeding bees is not only expensive, but also time-consuming.  Yet, the consequences of not supplying colonies with adequate nutrition can lead to a decline in overall hive health and even starvation, resulting in colony mortality.  Given this significance, this project seeks to study two contrasting strategies for providing supplemental nutrition for managed honeybee populations.  The first is the conventional approach of providing carbohydrates in the form of sucrose and protein in the form of pollen substitutes.  Alternatively, the second approach involves planting sustainable, bee-friendly forages in an effort to supplement available nectar and pollen in times of dearth.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective of this project is to provide empirically derived data that compares and contrasts these two different feeding strategies.  This data will be expressed both in terms of honeybee nutrition and in terms of feasibility.  The practical question that this project seeks to answer is: "how does a beekeeper, in this part of the country, get the most bang for his/her feeding buck."

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.