BeeGeorge Honey, LLC
Honey = 100%
Anything Else = 0%
Spring 2017 Summary
Ok, this is just odd
I can’t remember the last “typical” year but this sure isn’t one of them! The bees started gaining serious strength toward the end of February and into March. I had many hives with almost full supers of honey in March. What? That’s crazy.
April continued the trend with hives at maximum strength and filling up box after box. I was running seriously low of supers and ordered a ton of new stuff to try to make up with foundation for my deficient in drawn comb.
Black locust came on schedule followed shortly by the tulip poplar. “Typically” that is the start of the main honey flow with the bees going nuts bringing in gallons and gallons of nectar. Rubbing my pine needle tar stained hands, I waited for the bounty. But no, the flowers were open but nothing was happening. It is like someone turned off the faucet, yes, OFF. What is that about? Any flower people have an answer for that? Sure there are some the dregs of dandelions, a nice crop of blackberries, and a rather poor start to clover but where is the main nectar flow?
On the positive side, the bees are drawing out foundation well which means they are getting something.
Hopefully, I’m just being premature and the clover will kick in full gear.
Fall / Winter 2017
2017 turned out to be a pretty good year for honey production while being pretty rough on the honeybees; both good and bad.
Our unusually warm spring started in February and really didn’t quit. I had supers full of honey in mid-April (many hives had 50 or more pounds of honey by then). This was good.
In a normal year (whatever that means anymore) the honey flow STARTS at the end of April and runs through early June. This year, I didn’t see an increase in honey during the flow which was very odd. As normal, hives had plenty of excellent quality honey by extraction time in late July and through August. The harvest went well without any real hiccups and production was significantly up from 2016 (which had a smaller than average harvest).
In too many instances, the early honey actually tamped the queens down into the bottom brood box, restricting her egg laying. Subsequently I had more swarming that normal (which is normally perhaps 2%). If I see this again, I’ll have to perform more frame manipulations to ensure she has amble room for eggs and brood. Just more work!
I worked hard keeping Varroa mites (the plague of beekeeping today) in check in the spring and early summer. Unfortunately, I was too busy handling the honey crop to give some of my apiaries the attention they needed and the bees suffered from mites/virus plagues. My hive losses were about average despite paying greater attention I paid to the issue. I’ve heard from the scientists that the viruses are becoming increasingly lethal to bees, which fits with my experience.
Several yards also had severe issues with small hive beetles. Since it was apiary specific to new yards, either it was a fluke or the soils around those yards are too conducive. I guess I’ll find out in 2018.
Hives headed into the winter with lots of food, low mite counts and solid populations. We'll have to see what the weather brings but I've high hopes for coming into spring with strong hives and low losses.
I have to say, that I love keeping bees. Every day working bees is a good day. Type your paragraph here.