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Thread: Dearth

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    91

    Default Dearth

    I've heard the word often times but I don't know when I am in it. If there is a drought I can understand, but well...I don't know. Do people look at their frames and say "oh, we are in dearth" or do they walk around the woods/fields for awhile, take note of the flowers available and compare them to their old notes and say "oh, we are in dearth" or is there a secret beekeeper meeting of minds when they all have a beer together and rant about their bees not doing as well.

    Seriously though, I feel like this is under explained and although I am not aware of any dearth issues since I started keeping last year...its supposed to be important...I think. I feed new packages/swarms, but I haven't seen any of my colonies running out of nectar/pollen since I started.
    2nd year - 7 hives - TF

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,062

    Default Re: Dearth

    It simply means that nothing is blooming or if blooming is not putting out nectar, usually due to heat or lack of moisture. Usually in my locations, the fruit and dandelions and a shrub called caragana bloom pretty close to the same time. Then there is some years nothing at all blooming for two or three weeks until the sweet clover and alfalfa start blooming. That interval with nothing blooming is a dearth. Bees can build up hugely on the spring flow and feed everything coming in to larvae and starve to death while waiting for the main flow. After the killing frost in the fall, usually September, my main dearth lasts until mid APRIL.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,688

    Default Re: Dearth

    If you keep bees long enough there are two things that are bound to happen. You will have to build a barn or shed for storage and you will become a part time Botanist.LOL But, seriously most plants bloom in cycles, they will either bloom first thing in the spring when they first leaf out for the year or they will bloom in the fall right before winter. There are very few nectar producing plants that bloom all summer long. Each area is a little different but, as a general rule most nectar producing plants don't bloom during the dog days of summer. Generally the spring and fall are better for honey production. We have a pretty long dearth here from middle June-October.

    All of the things you mentioned are ways to figure out what's going on in your particular area, I do walk through the woods looking to see what's blooming, and I do look in the hive to make sure what I see blooming is in fact producing nectar. If you can shake out new nectar from a frame there is a flow on. Once you know what the primary nectar plants are in your area you can cut down on the time it takes to walk around the woods. Hope this helps

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lizard Creek, Louisiana
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Dearth

    Hummmm Ok when "typically" month/month dates that the death occur here in South East Louisiana?

    I never paid attention to when things bloom or not before so I have NO CLUE:}

    Thanks in advance for your advice

    Happy Fathers's Day

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lizard Creek, Louisiana
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Dearth

    Hummmm Ok when "typically" month/month dates that the death occur here in South East Louisiana?

    I never paid attention to when things bloom or not before so I have NO CLUE:}

    Thanks in advance for your advice

    Happy Fathers's Day

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Dearth

    Watch your bees -- when they are only flying occasionally and there is more "washboarding" than bees entering and leaving, you are in a dearth. You will also see robber bees looking for a way into the hive.

    Don't know when things happen that far south, but we are at the tail end of the spring flow here, depending on whether sweet clover is available to the bees or not (a couple weeks more for that if so, if not pretty much done). There are scattered things from now til goldenrod, if it makes and it's close enough, so I've put reducers on the entrances, had robbing problems last year.

    You'll figure it out in coming years. This year, with new hives, check to make sure they are adding stores, at least every couple weeks, and when they are not, time to feed.

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,688

    Default Re: Dearth

    That's where becoming a part time botanist will come into play. From now on you probably will start paying attention to what's blooming and when. Somethings just take some time to figure out. One of the first things to figure out is what is your main flow coming from. I've never been to LA. but, just from looking at pictures I can see you guys have Tupelo, Tallow, probably some Gallberry and Palmetto. I would imagine Southern LA. is somewhat like Florida and you are probably on the tail end of your honey flow. Tallow is a big time honey producing tree but, they are all but finished here in North Florida. Our next big flow will come from Cabbage Palm in a few weeks but, they are not everywhere here in Florida they are mainly along the coast or a long the edge of rivers or wet lands. I'm sure its the same way in LA.

    Further North they get big flows from Clover but, here in the South the clover doesn't normally do good enough to be a significant surplus honey plant. Like Peter said you will figure it out with a little time, you can speed up the process by looking into your hives, walking the area around your hives, and talking to some of the older beekeepers in your area. Once you know where the flow comes from all you have to do is go look at the plants as the season is progressing and you will have any idea of when to expect things to start happening.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,836

    Default Re: Dearth

    Right now is a good time to check for a dearth in this early Summer time here.
    The fields are being plowed in so no nectar or pollen for my bees. No rain either for 3 months already. No rain means
    nothing is blooming out there for my bees either. Right now, I don't see many plants blooming out there that are good for my bees. So no nectar or pollen from outside also.
    Now I checked my hives to see what have they bring in??? No nectar but some borage and pumpkin pollen
    stored that I planted for them. Not a significant amount so I know there is a dearth on compared to this early Spring when they stored up to 6 frames of pollen.
    So the scarcity of both nectar and pollen signal that a dearth is on now in this hot summer months. If I don't feed them now they will not raise some good broods for the Fall build up. Going into the cold winter here they are doomed for sure.
    I'm hoping for a good Fall harvest so will help them as much as I can. Yep, the dearth is definitely on now in our area. Does this helps?
    I luv bee source!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    593

    Default Re: Dearth

    The symptom of a dearth is when during warm weather, usually late summer, the amount of stored nectar starts to shrink. I had a hive last year that in early summer had a bottom box with frames full of nectar and/or pollen. By late summer this box had frames with fully drawn comb, but fully empty. There simply was little or no nectar available for the bees to collect, so they survived by consuming the nectar they had stored.

    Phil

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Reddick, FL (Ocala)
    Posts
    127

    Default Re: Dearth

    Take notes. What pollen coming in and when. As you go through the years, you will see the weather effects on hive strength etc. This year the rain shut off just in time for end of gallberry and beginning of saw palm. Little nectar produced but lots of flowers. Cool nights and lack of rain wiped the better part of saw palm flow, and then the love bugs showed.

    Now with afternoon rains returning, cabbage palm, summer sustanance, has been sending shoots out ready for its slow blooms. With that, better fall hives and pepper flow are distinctly better. Fall splits increase their wintering chances with help from feed buckets/trenches during the "dearth" months of summer.

    These observations and adjustments are some of the biggest reasons for beek failures of years 2-4. Timing your splits before blackberry starts and when to feed goes with managing mites etc. your getting closer to long term sucess!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: Dearth

    Quote Originally Posted by crazylocha View Post
    Take notes. What pollen coming in and when. As you go through the years, you will see the weather effects on hive strength etc. This year the rain shut off just in time for end of gallberry and beginning of saw palm. Little nectar produced but lots of flowers. Cool nights and lack of rain wiped the better part of saw palm flow, and then the love bugs showed.

    Now with afternoon rains returning, cabbage palm, summer sustanance, has been sending shoots out ready for its slow blooms. With that, better fall hives and pepper flow are distinctly better. Fall splits increase their wintering chances with help from feed buckets/trenches during the "dearth" months of summer.

    These observations and adjustments are some of the biggest reasons for beek failures of years 2-4. Timing your splits before blackberry starts and when to feed goes with managing mites etc. your getting closer to long term sucess!
    You are 3 hours north of me, and this spring is the worst nectar flow my bees have seen in the 4 years since I started beekeeping. I had a bad orange blossom flow, though not sure why. Cooler than average March, and I think my bees have more competition this year with the commercial apiaries. Maybe citrus greening played in, not sure. All I know is that I got about a quarter of what I thought I was going to with orange blossom. Then the Saw Palmetto, very poor flow there too. Low humidity, cooler than usual. My bee area even less rain than some other local areas. There's a lot of open nectar and supers partially filled in my strong hives. I leave them plenty to get them through til fall flow, but so disappointed with spring harvest. I'm almost out of honey for sales already.
    Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prvb 16:24
    March 2010; +/- 30 hives, TF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ashe, N.C. USA
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: Dearth

    I LIKE your post, esp. the first sentence....SO true!!!! The rest is helpful for me as well for this is my third year, and we are having an early dearth!!!! Praying for rain....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lincoln, RI
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Dearth

    Quote Originally Posted by Gus979 View Post
    Do people look at their frames and say "oh, we are in dearth" or do they walk around the woods/fields for awhile, take note of the flowers available and compare them to their old notes and say "oh, we are in dearth" or is there a secret beekeeper meeting of minds when they all have a beer together and rant about their bees not doing as well.
    Too funny, but probably closer to the truth than you realize. I can see a lot of stuff blooming, but that does not necessarily mean the bees are attracted to that particular plant. So I don't find looking at whats blooming terribly insightful - half of the stuff I could not identify anyhow.

    New beekeeper myself, but I have learned by watching the bees. When things appear to be drying up I observe a notable decline in bees coming back with pollen. I also notice a lot less comb building by %, and more bees just appearing to be hanging around. When I inspect, I see more capped honey rather than frames of wet nectar that has not dried - lending to the idea that there may not be as much coming in as before. I have also seen a decline in brood production (in one hive) as if the bees are sensing lack of food and tapering off building new populations.

    I suppose all of those, when added together, are signs of a dearth onset.

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