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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Woodland Park, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Dry weather responses by bees

    Well,

    Spring comes late here to begin with. Colorado front-range climate is a very fickle one, and part of what I accept about bees here is that I am in a slightly more challenging environment. The year the weather has been dry, very dry this year, meaning every sunny day is already a fire danger day. The modest rains have been enough to support the dandelions, golden pea - no good to honey bees, and the blossoming of aspens and other shrubs/trees. But the grass crackles underfoot, and I cannot imagine lots of nectar coming out of anything, and the air and wind just sublimate any water.

    Seems to me the bees know they are in a drought, and reduced brood rearing accordingly. Anyone have experience with this? Could they stop rearing brood altogether? One hive is broodless, and one has slowed rearing way, way down. I am addressing the possibility of other problems with my hives here with local beekeepers, but I am wondering out loud specifically here about brought response? I put a frame of eggs and brood in to the broodless hive in case they need to raise a queen, yes. But I felt bad moving it form the other hive because the brood frames are rare commodities these days!

    Of course, there are other explanations such as supersedure, etc, just wondering about weather related issues in this posting, though.

    Any thoughts, thanks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default

    Coldbees,

    It sounds reasonable that they would slow down if there isn't enough pollen to sustain or build up the hives. I found two items that have some reference to it and posted them below. Maybe someone with more experience and lots of years under their belts would know more.

    " Fulton said dry weather across the nation last year probably hurt the quality of pollen produced. Pollen provides the nutrition bees need to survive. Poor nutrition would stress the bees’ bodies, making them susceptible to other factors, such as the cold weather of winter."

    and another one

    "We've had a warm fall, and the balmy temps have had an impact on the hives. Beekeepers depend on a fall 'flow' of nectar from goldenrod and aster to get the hives heavy for winter. Unfortunately, the past two seasons have seen little or no nectar flow from the fall flowering plants."

    http://www.greathoney.com/Hive_Notes/hive_notes.html

    Good luck. BTW you going to the CSBA meeting this June?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    morehead city, nc, usa
    Posts
    378

    Default Keep an eye on them

    Last year we had a severe drought in N.C. which really caught up to the bees late in the summer. Honey production was good up until the end of August but then they started eating their winter stores. Brood production went way down and stopped altogether in our Russian hive.

    Some local keepers thought that because the bees were active, everything was fine.....didn't look in the hives. Several lost colonies even before winter.

    We put the feeders on for a couple of weeks, got some rain, and brood production fired up again. Here the bees are active most of the year.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Gainesville, FL
    Posts
    165

    Default

    Last summer was very dry here. The bees really suffered and didn't produce much honey at all. I think we managed to squeeze only 8 lb from a hive, and that was only because we had people clamoring for it. The bees also shut down brood rearing during the summer. It made for a bad summer but it seemed to wipe out the varroa population so the bees that managed to make it to winter did great without any kind of treatment.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Woodland Park, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by alpha6 View Post
    Coldbees,

    Good luck. BTW you going to the CSBA meeting this June?
    Why not, I forgot to look into it, but I am free that weekend. I'll check to see if anyone else local is traveling to it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Woodland Park, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Good notes

    Thanks for the links and observations. The "Hive Notes" link is especially good, of course, as always, one thing leads to another, they mention that their bees clean out foulbrood scale and other diseases!

    Fascinating creatures, much to learn form them.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by peletier View Post
    Last year we had a severe drought in N.C. which really caught up to the bees late in the summer. Honey production was good up until the end of August but then they started eating their winter stores. Brood production went way down and stopped altogether in our Russian hive.

    Some local keepers thought that because the bees were active, everything was fine.....didn't look in the hives. Several lost colonies even before winter.

    We put the feeders on for a couple of weeks, got some rain, and brood production fired up again. Here the bees are active most of the year.
    Same sort of thing down here in Upstate SC. We got good Honey until late July and then it shut down. Bees overwintered fairly well though in established hives. But those with newer colonies fared the worst. The only thing that saved my youngest hive was that I had it pretty large to the size of the Hive bodies. I had a Deep and two Mediums (8 frame set up). And they got that filled out real well before things shut down. I got only one Shallow of honey off of them and it was only partial (5 frames). The established hive (10 frame stuff) produced three shallows before it shut down. 2 by July 1st and only one later were they able to finish off.

    This year may be worse with this sudden early Heat and Dry spell for us. We have missed most of the rain and things are burning up down here in the upstate. Rain has gone North and South and we have had a week of 95 plus degrees. 100 the last two days. Rain is in sight though if we are lucky.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default

    The carniolans, ferals and russians are quick to shut down in a dearth. Even the Italians do sometimes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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