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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hollsopple, pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    64

    Default Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    Could someone please point me into the direction of understanding the mysterious nectar flow? I cannot seem to find any information on the topic. I am wondering what sets it off? Does substantial rain flow equal nectar flow? I live in southwestern PA and the month of august the local Keepers said we were in a derth, however we had alot of plants still in bloom, so does bloom not indicate a nectar flow? Are there other sighns that point to when a flow is going to begin, when its on and when it is going to stop? I know that simply looking into my hives and seeing an increase in honey stores indicates that a flow is on, but im looking for some more external sighns, Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Bolton, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    277

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    I'm with you Durstlight!
    I'd love to understand the external signs outside of the hive too.
    I think I understand some of the internal signs such as No to little pollen being stored or being seen on the bees legs at the entrance, The queen not laying much brood, The hive being angry and down right mean when I open it up. lack of stores, or not much new stores being placed, Lack of new wax being drawn out.....

    Glen

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,531

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    external clues would be things like actually seeing blooms as you drive around, increased coming and going at the entrances, lots of pollen coming in on the bees, and bees coming in 'heavy' with the abdomens fat and extended.

    it does look to me like the foraging picks up a little after a good rain.

    it's hard to know without looking in the hive if enough nectar is coming in for the bees to store and process it into honey. some folks use scales to weigh their hives to see if stores are increasing or not.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,350

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    External signs of a honey flow?

    There could be dozens, or hundreds of flowering plants in full bloom, and thousands of acres of them, all around. There may still not be a flow. The only true indicator of the presence of a flow are the signs indicated by strong honey bee colonies. First, almost external, are the sign of increased activity at hive entrances. Still, that is only going to be a fair indicator of pollen flow, seeing a large percentage of returning foragers bringing back pollen loads. Yet, they may not be bringing in much nectar, so, despite a pollen flow, there may still not be a strong honey flow.

    The only real way to determine a honey flow is by observation of the interior of strong colonies. Status of honey flows has often been monitored by what is called a "scale hive". It is simply a selected colony that is placed on a scale that indicates its weight, from day to day.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,271

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    Many plants produce blooms but do not produce nectar in the amount that would attract honey bees, learn the major nectar producing plants in your area. There are so many things that cause nectar flows to stop/start, rain or lack of rain, rain at the wrong time, sunshine or the lack of sunshine, it would fill a small book.

    You need to listen to established beekeepers in your area and record the nectar bearing plants and the times they bloom, then start observing for yourself when you see these plants put on blooms and when you see bees start working and stop working them. Over 5 or 6 years you will get an average start/stop time of the major plants. The average is what you base plans on, but remember each year is different. Start times can be 2 or 3 weeks early or late.

    In my area the first reliable nectar sources are trees, the Redbud is the most noticeable because of the blooms color. The older beekeeping literature, 1870s American Bee Journal, had a letter from an Arkansas beekeeper in the southwestern part of the state, that listed this as an early nectar source. He gave March 15 as the average bloom date. Here in northcentral Arkansas today the average bloom date is the 3rd week in March. The average length is the same as in the 1870s, 8-10 days. The amount of nectar stored is variable, colony strength and weather plays a big part, I have no way of knowing what each tree produces.

    The Redbud bloom signals swarming will start to occur in 2 week. How do I know? Observation and keeping records for a number of years.

    Clover is one of the main surplus nectar sources in my area. Average bloom date is the first week in May, varies from year to year, but from the time I see the first blooms in my yard until supers start showing much nectar is 2 weeks. Cloudy weather reduces nectar production, as does night time temps.

    Get a note book and record what you see and when you see it, ask experienced beekeepers and record what they say. As with all beekeeping information, remember it but don't believe it until you prove it for yourself. Often beekeepers repeat what they have been told, but the information may not be correct.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,350

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    Okay, I'm going to make a silly analogy:

    If it's raining real hard, and it has been for quite a while. You can guess that the river might be set to flood, and may soon escape its banks, but unless you actually examine the river, you won't really know where all the floodwaters are coming from, except that they started with the rain.

    It might be nice to be able to predict a honeyflow from external clues, but we beekeepers have the "river" right in front of us.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    tacoma, wa. usa
    Posts
    156

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    ....and the real question isn't if there's no flows, since you can't really do anything about that, it's really what are the options to do something about it for your hives to get them through......if they went in to it with pretty good stores, they may draw on them to get through on their own, but if you're looking to get some honey out of the deal, what can the beek do about it to help? (dearth).....start feeding them?.....mix up a batch of protein patty's?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    Around here, when there is a flow on, my bees will leave the hive like being shot out of a cannon...no milling around. And that's all they do, all day long. When there is no flow, they will forage some in the morning, but mill around the rest of the day...not much activity. But, as mentioned earlier, I use a hive scale. I know when they are bringing stores in or consuming them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,350

    Default Re: Yes flow...No flow....When flow??????

    Concerning honey flows:
    One "cool" factor, here in the often single digit humidity and triple digit Fahrenheit temperatures of the Tucson desert, is they can bring in fresh nectar on Monday and by Wednesday, or sooner, have it cured into ripe honey.

    This season, is again, another unique one. It's been 100F or higher, almost every day since early May. We have gotten some fairly decent rain, through the Summer, but since the temperatures have remained so high, the ground hasn't remained moist enough, long enough, to get the wild flowers growing. Though the rains have inspired additional bloom from mesquite and creosote bush, so they're providing continuing moderate pollen and honey flow conditions. But the prickly pear cactus is covered with ripening fruit, which the wasps and birds are tearing into, giving the honey bees access, and they're bringing in some of that, too.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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