Although spring doesn't officially arrive until March 21st we now have 12 hours of sunshine per day. Things will begin warming up and the bees will become more active. Their first task of spring is to gather as much pollen as possible in order to feed the brood they have begun to raise. The first pollen to be available in this area is usually from maples, aspen and willows. The bees will still be dependent on their stored honey until the first nectar bearing flowers appear.
Powdered pollen substitute or pollen can be offered on sunny days in feeding trays. The bees will use this source until natural pollen is available and then the bees will ignore the substitute. Shown here are two simple ways to present the pollen substitute to the bees; in a cardboard box and on a flat board. If presented in small amounts the bees will usually clean it up in one day. If the pollen substitute gets rained upon it turns into a useless hard glop. Sometimes beekeepers use a covered birdfeeder to feed the substitute and thus somewhat protect it from the rain.
The feeding of pollen or pollen substitute stimulates the bees to raise more brood prior to the start of the honey flow. With a stronger hive you theoretically get more honey. Conversely, a stronger hive is more likely to swarm.
NOTE: This is done primarily to help overwintered hives. By the time package bees arrive there should be enough natural pollen already present and feeding of a pollen substitute is usually not necessary.