Understanding the flow - Upstate NY
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    34

    Default Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Hi All, third year beekeeper here in the Hudson Valley of NY. Let me get this out of the way... I know that all beekeeping is local and that generalizations are very hard to make. So, now I'm going to ask for generalizations

    One of the toughest parts of beekeeping seems to be anticipating what next week will bring and being ahead of the curve. I'm trying to really understand my local nectar flow and get ahead of what my bees need. I'm in the mid-Hudson Valley of NY (Columbia County) and am wondering if anyone can help me understand what the nectar flow has been like this spring (again knowing it could be different 5 miles from my house!) I certainly know how my hives have done, but still don't feel I have enough experience to really know how this spring has stacked up to other springs. Is the flow just about over? What was particularly good? With the flow over or ending, but some hives still seeming to be threatening to swarm, what is to be done? Is it smart to continue to give them room? I know robbing becomes a concern when the flow ends.

    Again, I realize that these are very broad questions, but appreciate hearing anyone who would like to muse on the subject of late spring management. I'm guessing I'll pull the honey supers in the first part of July and do mite checks and treatments then... but would like to understand this spring's flow as best I can so that I continue to build my knowledge base. I've been watching the weight of my hive using a broodminder scale, which has been a great tool for a fairly new beekeeper (HUGE FAN!) I certainly can see that they have been putting on weight both by opening the hive and reading the scale, but again, in the spirit of anticipation, would love to hear other's thoughts. Here's the terrific info my scale has provided:

    File_000 (2).jpg

    Thank you all so much!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Local beekeeping groups are an excellent source of such information, other local beekeeprers and observation. If you go onto honeybeenet there's a chart that lists major blooms based on your area. The flow is already over for us, we have tulip poplar and black locust here. Places in Georgia have sourwood, just depends on where you leave. Talk to locals, they would know.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Thanks so much. I was hoping some folks in my area might be on here and chime in...

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,404

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    even with all the rain, it has been so far about average nectar flows, there is a way to use the sticky thread about bloom on beesource to find out what has happened in your area in previous years. when dandelions bloom, drop on two drawn supers, when you start to see white wax on the top one, and feel some weight, drop on another, biggest flows are usually black locust, sumac, basswood, then a slight slow down, followed by napp weed, and then golden rod, depending on the weather none or all will produce, check your hives every 7-14 days and super ahead of the flows, on a good year top super, and if they don't need it they wont fill it. good luck
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    I'm north of you, in northern Rensselaer County. Up until yesterday my bees were slurping down the black locust nectar in a year with a particularly good flow. The warm temps put a stop to that and this morning when I went out to the hives before breakfast my bees were pestering each other at their entrances, so I slapped their robbing screens on immediately.

    And I admonished them to go out and work for a living, which they grumpily went off to do and discovered the blooming wild roses and celandine poppies and clover, which should hold them until the basswood pops in about 10-12 days. And there's sumac in the offing, too. And blackberry and elderberry, as well. I may get some action with yellow sweet clover I seeded over the fields that burned in March - I put in white clover, too so that will come in next year. And then there's Joe Pye, Traveler's Joy and all the mid to late summer plants (I think they will have all survived the fire.)

    This spring here has been off and on with all the rain and the bizarre early February weeks that ended in a frigid March, so I don't think much of the season, so far. I was holding my breath about the black locust because not far from me down in the river valley it bloomed two weeks ahead of mine and got substantially washed out by the heavy rains in late May. I am in a cooler area and it escaped nearly intact, except for being foreshortened by the 90 F temps on Sunday and yesterday.

    As far as the overall, so far that absurd early beginning in Feb. seems to have gotten things off to a herky-jerky start that my bees haven't really recovered from. Maples were mixed, as were the pussy willows, perhaps because of the intermittent starts and stops. The apples were good with it being both a good summer last year for them to set buds and a mild winter, and they were smart enough to sit out the February thaw. This was one of the two out three good years in the locust cycle, and from the number of buds looks to be a good year for basswood, too. (Last year was a complete basswood bust and the year before the best one I had seen in 30 years on the farm.) Sumac will be only fair as the power company did a lot of clearing of the right of ways around here and mowed that down. I have been barking the town highway dept. down about mowing the wild roses off before they have finished flowering. My neighboring dairy farmers have moved on from their clover cover crops and drilled down corn in those fields this year, alas, but my bees got a pretty good lift off the mustard while the fields were too wet to plow.

    I used to fret all the time, but that never seemed to bring on a good flow. Now I rejoice when I see the bees zooming out, and figure if they don't make enough before winter, my membership at BJ's means I can buy cheap sugar for them.

    BTW, did you know there is a Columbia County beekeepers' assoc. these days? It has very informal meetings. I believe they have a website, too. And you'd always be welcome to come to the Southern Adirondack Beekeepers' Association meeting on the third Monday of the month (next Monday June 19th is our next meeting) at 7 pm in Ballston Spa at the Cooperative Extension building on Rt 50. And Betterbee has their field day on June 24th, with Tom Seeley as the featured speaker - it's free, too!

    Enj.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Enjambres, THANK YOU so much for your thoughtful and thorough response. All of that is very helpful as I try and dissect what my local conditions have been. I hadn't really thought about the fact that you could just have a short break in the flow. I have seen that there is a Columbia County group, but somehow it is about 45 minutes from me (I'm on the south western boarder). I also really appreciate the invitation to your meeting and just make take you up on it.

    Can I quickly ask you when you pull your honey supers? Will you remove your robber screens when the basswood blooms? I seem to have a lot of the wild roses around, I hope they make for a good nectar source. Again, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to write all of that down – thank you!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    I never pull honey supers as I am not interested in honey. My bees' main job has so far been making combs and teaching their beekeeper.

    I will remove the robbing screens if things pick up, but I usually install them for the rest of the season in early July anyway. Robbing screens are not at all a barrier to nectar collection. This year I particularly don't want robbing in any of my hives because I have a nasty little case EFB in some of them and I don't want it to spread.

    There are tons of blooming wild roses right now, and while I don't think of it particularly as a honey plant it seems to be a pretty decent maintenance resource in between the locust and basswood/sumac flows.

    Are you near the river? I was on the west side of the river down in your area in late summer last year and the amount of bee-forage there was astounding to me, despite the drought-ish conditions. More honey bees than mosquitoes!

    With your electronic gizmo in place you should be able to pinpoint very precisely when your bees are pulling in a net surplus and match that very closely with what's blooming. I envy that! Keep in mind that nectar weighs a lot more than honey so you'll see increases, then drops, as it is evaporated down. They aren't necessarily eating it up (or feeding their babies) just turning it into liquid gold.

    One of the biggest pleasures for me in beekeeping is that despite being a life-long plantswoman and professional horticulturist the bees have sharpened and changed how I see flowers, both cultivated and wild.

    There are some fairly good books on bees and the flowering plants they use.

    Enj.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Enj, so do you take any honey from your hives? I have just selectively pulled some frames over the last couple of years, which has been plenty for me. Thanks for the tip on the robbing screens, I've always been slightly confused on the timing of those.

    I'm on the east side of river, only about a quarter of a mile away. I like the idea of more bees than mosquitoes, I'll have to remind the mosquitoes

    I also appreciate the insight into the weight and nectar vs. honey. Obviously, that makes great sense! I will say, beekeeping has made me a worse driver, as now I'm constantly paying attention to what's blooming as I drive and not quite as much to what else is on the road - oops.

    I'm hoping there might be another upstate keeper willing to chime in on this spring's flow, but your thoughts and info have been terrific. Thanks again for your time.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
    Posts
    2,037

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Hello 22bones, enjambres has a wealth of knowledge! You seem to be near her, and beekeeping is very local, more than I have realized every year. I was told by Michael Palmer to super early and I do, and reap early honey on the tree flows. Here we have been getting nectar constantly; I think the rain helped with that. Watch your bee's at the entrance; there is an excellent free download named At the Hive Entrance by H. Storch, an oldie but goodie to add to your library.
    I, too am still learning what the flora is around me and what the bee's like most, that is key in learning when the flows are on. Nancy has a good idea regarding robbing screens. Get them on early you will eventually need them. I bought 3 pollen/nectar charts from Eversweet Apiaries that rates what plants produce the most nectar and pollen for each season. It is excellent. I have been to many Seminars that SABA puts on, very informational. Also look into NY Bee Wellness, they are having a weekend of learning at Morrisville College. Deb
    Proverbs 16:24

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Cloverdale, thanks so much. I'll be sure to look up your suggested readings. I've got my fingers crossed that this next week of iffy weather doesn't mess with the basswood!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Quincy, Mass USA
    Posts
    813

    Default Re: Understanding the flow - Upstate NY

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I'm north of you, in northern Rensselaer County. Up until yesterday my bees were slurping down the black locust nectar in a year with a particularly good flow. The warm temps put a stop to that and this morning when I went out to the hives before breakfast my bees were pestering each other at their entrances, so I slapped their robbing screens on immediately.

    And I admonished them to go out and work for a living, which they grumpily went off to do and discovered the blooming wild roses and celandine poppies and clover, which should hold them until the basswood pops in about 10-12 days. And there's sumac in the offing, too. And blackberry and elderberry, as well. I may get some action with yellow sweet clover I seeded over the fields that burned in March - I put in white clover, too so that will come in next year. And then there's Joe Pye, Traveler's Joy and all the mid to late summer plants (I think they will have all survived the fire.)

    This spring here has been off and on with all the rain and the bizarre early February weeks that ended in a frigid March, so I don't think much of the season, so far. I was holding my breath about the black locust because not far from me down in the river valley it bloomed two weeks ahead of mine and got substantially washed out by the heavy rains in late May. I am in a cooler area and it escaped nearly intact, except for being foreshortened by the 90 F temps on Sunday and yesterday.

    As far as the overall, so far that absurd early beginning in Feb. seems to have gotten things off to a herky-jerky start that my bees haven't really recovered from. Maples were mixed, as were the pussy willows, perhaps because of the intermittent starts and stops. The apples were good with it being both a good summer last year for them to set buds and a mild winter, and they were smart enough to sit out the February thaw. This was one of the two out three good years in the locust cycle, and from the number of buds looks to be a good year for basswood, too. (Last year was a complete basswood bust and the year before the best one I had seen in 30 years on the farm.) Sumac will be only fair as the power company did a lot of clearing of the right of ways around here and mowed that down. I have been barking the town highway dept. down about mowing the wild roses off before they have finished flowering. My neighboring dairy farmers have moved on from their clover cover crops and drilled down corn in those fields this year, alas, but my bees got a pretty good lift off the mustard while the fields were too wet to plow.

    I used to fret all the time, but that never seemed to bring on a good flow. Now I rejoice when I see the bees zooming out, and figure if they don't make enough before winter, my membership at BJ's means I can buy cheap sugar for them.

    BTW, did you know there is a Columbia County beekeepers' assoc. these days? It has very informal meetings. I believe they have a website, too. And you'd always be welcome to come to the Southern Adirondack Beekeepers' Association meeting on the third Monday of the month (next Monday June 19th is our next meeting) at 7 pm in Ballston Spa at the Cooperative Extension building on Rt 50. And Betterbee has their field day on June 24th, with Tom Seeley as the featured speaker - it's free, too!

    Enj.
    Simply awesome summary!
    Since '12 Zone 7a 42.25N 71.00W 17H OAV Amitraz
    Seaside Apiaries

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