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2nd Year Beekeeping

Welcome to the NEW 2nd Year Beekeeping Blog. For those who have sucessfully kept a hive going through the winter we will be here to help you keep your hive thriving through it's second year.

The warm weather experienced in some regions have prompted plants to bloom outside of their typical season. Plants are blooming weeks, if not months, ahead of schedule and this has impacted their nectar flow. These flowering plants produce the food supply needed for bees to survive. Heat, drought and many other factors play into effect with flowers producing nectar and pollen.

Here is a great resource to find the region in which bees are foraging for specific flowering plants:

http://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Honeybees/Forage.htm

As you can see in the map, nectar flows exhibit a broad regional trend but there can be substantial differences within a region. Beekeepers are always interested in what blooms are in their region and will often find themselves searching for flowering plants along the roadside as they are traveling. You may also find yourself intently watching your hive entrance to see the pollen being brought into the hive. This is good practice as you may be able to notice signs of a summer dearth.

There are many challenges associated with the summer dearth. The obvious effect is starvation but the lack of resources will have an impact on brood production, nutrition, and can lead to robbing. Beekeepers must always be cautious of a dearth

3 things to do when the nectar flow begins to wane:

  • Honey bees will store an excessive amount of honey, ranging between 100-150 lbs. Beekeepers reap the benefits of excess nectar stores that have cured into honey but they must be aware of the hive’s food stores before harvesting. Depending upon your region and the harshness of winter, they will need 60 – 80 lbs. of honey to survive winter. Know when the dearth begins and ensure your hive has enough honey for the winter months.

  • The summer dearth is when the nectar is scarce or non-existent. Bees will forage for pollen and nectar as long as there are flowering plants producing. When small amounts of nectar are being brought into the hive, the queen will slow production and the colony will not grow. Beekeepers need to provide the next best thing to nectar; sugar water mixture or corn syrup. Help stimulate and maintain the colony’s growth by feeding your bees. Use a hive top feeder rather than an entrance feeder to help prevent robbing during a dearth.

  • Honey bees will fly the shortest distance to acquire the resources they need. Weak colonies are primary targets for robbing. A weak colony with its honey stores robbed out can quickly starve. Help the weaker colonies guard their hives by reducing the entrance. If robbing becomes a problematic issue, our Moving and Robbing Screen will help deter those robbing bees. Weak colonies are also prone to pests and diseases. Monitor and treat as needed.

Provide the nutrition needed to maintain a healthy colony and continued growth for winter survival.