BeeGeorge Honey, LLC
Honey = 100%
Anything Else = 0%
Honeybee update for spring of 2018:
Winter just didn’t want to quit this year and carried on its hijinks well into April. My bees took advantage of any acceptable weather that was offered and weren’t as negatively impacted as I feared.
Actually, the bees took advantage of downright unacceptable weather too! It’s a long established fact that honeybees don’t fly at temperatures under 55 degrees. Well, this spring, I saw bee foraging flight in the low 40s and lots and lots of foraging flights at temperatures of 46 degrees and higher. What were they thinking? Don’t they read the beekeeping books?
Now that temperatures are back to normal, the bees are reacting as expected. We had a nice mini honey flow in late April and the first week of May were most of my hives were packing in nectar as fast as they could. Black Locus and Tulip Poplar are blooming well although it remains to be seen what the bees will get this year. With the rains in mid-May, the clover is ready to take off too.
I don’t know what the bees were gathering in late April /early May. All I really saw was lots of olive variants which are normally not large honey producers. I’m not complaining, mind you. This flow did cause some unusual hive management challenges though. About 15% to 20% of my colonies were filling up the brood nest with nectar, not leaving the queen very much room to lay eggs. All the hives had lots of available room in the honey supers though.
This is typically either a sign of a queen-less hive or of a hive getting ready to swarm. I was able to find eggs in all the hives so I knew everyone was queen rite. I was concerned about swarming. This didn’t materialize however as only 3 hives swarmed (0.015%).
My theory is that the house bees were just so overwhelmed by incoming nectar from the field force that 1) nurse bees were recruited to help and 2) they were just putting nectar in the first place they could find. It looks like much of the nectar is being moved up to the supers as it ripens into honey. As the weather is plenty warm at this point, I also did some drastic surgery on a dozen hives by introducing an deep box with drawn comb right in the middle of the brood nest. I moved frames around, giving the queen tons and tons of space to lay eggs. This kind of radical change also disrupts aswarming instincts. I don’t know the success of the experiment yet (whether she will fill the new area with eggs) but it shouldn’t hurt anything. We’ll see.
Most of the bees are looking very good with lots of brood and low mite counts. I’ve high hopes but time will tell. Type your paragraph here.
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.