Yesterday we were moving some hives to the raspberry farm for the pending raspberry bloom. On the way we saw the first thimbleberry blooms along the road near our home. If one looks at the year over year data from the hive on the scale, the similarities between this year and last year are striking. We had a nice run of 20lb during the early part of April with warm weather and the Maples in bloom, followed by 10 days of cool and damp weather during which the bees consumed a big chunk of those stores brought in during that period. Today is shaping up to be a nice sunny day, and the salmon berries are open, I saw grey pollen at the entrances yesterday. The forecast is mostly sunny and warm for the next two weeks. The ducks are now all lined up.
This is it folks, the spring honey flow is upon us. Hive populations are a reasonable size, well positioned to start storing nectar, berries are opening, and warm weather in the forecast, it’s looking just like last year at this time. If you look at the year over year graphs from the hive scale, when the weather turned sunny in May, the hives started to store nectar in a hurry, and the runup over the month of May was on the order of 65lb.
For those of us in the valley that dont move the hives into higher ground for the fireweed bloom, the time to make honey is now, and the crop will come in over the next 4 to 5 weeks of valley blooms. For those that focus on producing honey from the higher level fireweed blooms, the time to build populations in spring splits is now.
But with the good, comes the difficult as well. Two weeks of warm weather with berries in bloom means we are now headed into the prime swarm season, and now is also the time to be on the top of your game trying to discourage swarming. We will be going thru all the hives opening up space in brood nests this week, and getting another super onto most of them. It is also the time of year to get more comb drawn out, and we are still in the mode of trying to expand the inventory of drawn comb, so all of the supers will go on with 8 drawn frames, and 2 fresh new frames interspersed between them. This is a strategy that works well for us to get more drawn comb during the heavy nectar flow, the bees have enough space to store what is coming in, and draw some comb during the process. Without the drawn frames in each box, the nectar comes in much faster than they can draw the comb to store it, and the hives will start into swarm preparations as they start storing nectar into the brood nest.
It’s going to be a busy month, but, we keep bees to take advantage of the pending flow. Our job now is to make sure they dont run out of space to raise brood and store nectar, we leave the rest to the bees themselves.