We are located in the southerly edge of the 7a arc that swoops northeastward to coastal PA. We are almost down to the Alabama state line. From here, the zone drifts more southerly to the base of the Texas panhandle. All the way, it squiggles north and south with variations in altitude and local micro climates. IMO the zones are mostly an effect of the distance from the source of cold blasts of arctic air coming down out of western Canada. That cold air moves in the quadrant from east to south with some guideance from the jet stream that moves from west to east across the northern tier of states. When the jet stream dips down into Texas, we get colder weather. (Would welcome an input from someone who knows that stuff.)
We open this thread to note two things. 1. Late season in the middle of the country and 2. the start of main flow is not a function of field forage. In turn:
In January, the winter was milder than normal here. The bees were foraging accasionally through both Dec and Jan. Thought we were headed for a repeat of the previous season where spring was early by 3 weeks. Checkerboarded in early Feb and things were clocking along, looking good for a couple weeks. Then, an abrupt change from milder than normal to colder than normal with rain between the colder periods. The early trees bloomed about on schedule, but the later-blooming trees were delayed. This left a period in early March (Broodnest explosion period) where field forage, or access to it, did not support expansion. There was almost no cluster growth through Mar.
April brought some relief - warmer temps with sunshine. And reproductive swarm cut off came in on time with a normal season timing of the first week in April. We saw the normal tempoary new wax purging of a few days at that time. Since that time, we have monitored every few days for the All-up appearence of new wax heralding "main flow." Today, main flow is on. Had a clue when the cover was lifted. A number of bees gathered around the vent port in the inner cover - nectar dryers taking advantage of the warm updraft of air to dry necter. They are capping cured honey in the CBed supers. That honey has been curing by broodnest heat rise.
We have reported in other places that repro c/o starts a 3 week period of limited overhead nectar storage. We call that period the "lull" (in nectar gain). That 3 week period ends with the start of main flow. It is interesting that this season the lull was stretched to 5 weeks. Don't ask me why. Another item of interest is that the colony has gained some strength since repro c/o. Normally, broodnest decrease starts at repro c/o. Does not seem to be the case in this wacko season.
Will come back to this after my village mail run.