I’m sure we’ve all noticed how hot and dry it’s been this summer. I thought I’d update you on how this is affecting the bees and flowers.
My bees are looking great right now, with no signs of any significant diseases. They have huge populations and I made plenty of new baby hives, or nucs, a few weeks ago. I breed my own queens and this was the first year I feel like I really nailed it. My new queens are big and beautiful, and it didn’t rain during the week they were getting mated. I’m hoping the dry weather allowed them to mate with enough drones that they’ll have long and productive lives.
The flowers though… the heat and lack of rain has been taking it’s toll on the plants. I just took off and jarred the first wildflower honey of the season. It’s got the same taste as other years, but it’s more intense. I think the lack of moisture must have concentrated the flavour compounds in the nectar.
The dandelion and clover haven’t been producing much nectar. You can tell when a plant species isn’t producing because there are just a few bees quickly passing from blossom to blossom, checking things out but not stopping for long. During a nectar flow, there are usually lots of bees spending quite a bit of time sucking down the nectar from every blossom. So it’s been too dry for those two species it seems.
The alfalfa hasn’t produced anything either. This worries me a bit: we cut some of our hayfields a couple weeks ago and got very few bales. The fields are yellow they’re so dry and if we don’t get inches and inches of rain, I don’t know how well the alfalfa will come back. My late-season Fall Honey is mostly thistle and alfalfa so we’ll see what happens with that honey this year.
The native plants seem to be doing better. There’s fireweed blooming right now, which is way earlier than usual but my bees are all over it.
With the rain yesterday and forecasted for this week, the nectar flows might improve. I’m not too concerned because even with the meagre flows I have been seeing, the bees are so strong that they’re managing to bring in a fair amount of honey right now. If there’s nectar out there, they’ll find it!