Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    After a facebook poster on my AG page mentioned Solar Minimums for the potential cause of the cool weather, I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself.

    Rather than assuming the weather patterns have just been 'bad luck' I'd like to try to figure out possible reasons for it so I can plan future season's with a realistic outlook.

    While my weather is a lot better than a lot of the rest of the country, it's been challenging to say the least to get a start on the season. Like last year I'm at least 3 weeks behind in nuc and queen production. Very few foraging days, too cool for syrup take up, hive growth at a crawl ( I am not migratory and stay in a Northern location), grafted queen cells ready soon I may have to throw away, etc.

    Trying to make sense of the cool rainy weather and predict the challenges of future seasons.

    As of now, for next years orders, I'm planning to change my availability dates a full month later than what I've been able to achieve in past years. Last year was the same as this year. Winter just wouldn't let go, everything including blooming and flow dates were a month late.

    Sucks in an already short season area.

    Any thoughts?

    ******************
    From the internet:

    WHEN IS THE SOLAR MINIMUM?

    The minimum for this 11-year sunspot cycle is expected in 2019 to 2020. It doesn’t meant the Sun goes dormant; the solar activity just changes form.

    During solar minimum, sunspots and solar flares subside. The Sun’s ultraviolet output will dramatically decrease and the upper atmosphere of the planet may cool, among other noticeable shifts.

    Also, we can see the development of longtime coronal holes—vast regions in the Sun’s atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar streams to escape the Sun; this can cause space weather effects such as auroras as well as disruptions to communications and navigation systems.
    The Sun’s record-breaking sleep ended in 2010. Sunspots started increasing slowly through 2011.

    In February of 2012, sunspots peaked at 66.9, and then had a lull in activity until late 2013, when numbers began to slowly climb.

    April of 2014 gave us a second peak at 81.9. Many cycles are double peaked, however, this is the first time the second peak was larger than the first peak (in February, 2012).

    During 2015, monthly sunspots declined steady to their 50’s. During 2016, monthly sunspot numbers dropped to their 30’s and they just kept going down.

    In 2017, monthly sunspot numbers declined to their 20’s.

    In 2018, sunspot numbers are expected to drop further into the teens.
    Sunspot counts have reached their lowest level in over 5 years.



    https://www.almanac.com/content/spac...solar-activity


    solar-earth_full_width.jpg

    solar-flare-sept-6_full_width.jpg

    I like the science behind this theory. No use kicking a dead horse if weather the next few years is likely to be poor for early production. Schedule adjustments may be imminent, short term goals readjusted to incorporate the reality of the (possible) situation.
    Last edited by Lauri; 04-11-2018 at 02:08 PM.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
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    1,703

    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    I went through the last solar minimum then I still had cows. A lot of frozen pipes and drinking cups in the barn. I watched the solar sunspot web site and it was a long time that the sun didn't have any spots. And the last solar maximum was a weak one. Maunder Minimum is it a start of another only time will tell.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Plumas County, California, USA
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    237

    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Interesting. That certainly explains the cool and strange spring weather. Here in the Sierra Nevada the weather is changing unpredictably and making it difficult to manage the bees. It's reassuring, I suppose (though it doesn't sound nice to say that), that others are having their challenges as well--I thought it was mainly just my inexperience. So now, it's both, which is actually an improvement.
    Year 3
    Zone 7b 3500 ft.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    195

    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    I remember several years ago (pardon my exact memory) all the nuc vendors in the area had to postpone delivery 6 weeks or so beyond normal delivery dates.

    The pecan trees and mesquite trees have always been reliable signals of Spring in this area.

  6. #5
    Join Date
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    Roy, Wa
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Wow, just unreal. Long range Forecast for mid April. "Major snowstorm to evolve into blizzard"

    No transition into summer this year. Going to go from a refrigerator to 80 overnight.
    I feel sorry for people across the country who ordered bees from Ca. producers and have to take them on schedule. (And the warm climate producers who are ready with bees and northern customers not ready to take them) Lots of cold weather installs. I wouldn't want to do it.

    https://www.aol.com/article/weather/...l-us/23409520/
    Last edited by Lauri; 04-12-2018 at 12:42 PM.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

  7. #6
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    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
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    Default

    My business law professor that was trying to indoctrinate us graduate students assured us that the climate in PA would be the same as Georgia in 10 years! That was 2009. He was horrified when most of the class welcomed the change.

    Now I am thinking that the Georgia climate is more resembling PA climate 10 years ago.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Lauri, we are coming out of a double-header La Nina. Northern tier states had below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/product...-fcsts-web.pdf
    The ENSO blog from NOAA has some hopeful news that this may end.
    https://www.climate.gov/news-feature...-lurks-beneath
    We're at -2C with flurries expected tonight and tomorrow, still have a foot of snow on the ground, coldest April here since 2002.
    Brian

  9. #8
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    1,682

    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Ya Lauri didn't Al Gore say that one day we would not have a summer or something?
    Johno

  10. #9
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    What was the name of that movie where the north half of the US was uninahbitable because of a deep freeze and everyone froze in an instant? Yeah, that's what's happening.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,418

    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Wasn't that a superstorm that supposedly sucked the cold air out of the troposphere, stratosphere, or something? Let's just say I put a lot more faith in sunspots for climate change than I do in the other more widely touted reasons.

    As an added note, those that believe Mr. " I created the internet" might be astonished to learn that the earth is actually round and revolves around the sun.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    May 2015
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    Hillsboro, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Had snow in the rain this morning on the way into work. 35f.

    Personally if I'd like to give Al Gore a punch in the snout.

    But then again the maples are starting to bloom. When the bees can get out there are lots of food options for them. If it's anything like last year the Blackberry flow should be fantastic.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Quote Originally Posted by zonedar View Post

    But then again the maples are starting to bloom. When the bees can get out there are lots of food options for them. If it's anything like last year the Blackberry flow should be fantastic.
    Indeed, a month late, but fantastic.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

  14. #13
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    Rib Lake WI
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    And then we in Wisconsin are going to have a blizzard this weekend go figure.

  15. #14
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    Mar 2017
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    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    check out https://www.usanpn.org/data/spring

    Very detailed analysis of spring patterns throughout the country and comparing to previous years. I understand that this year spring progression is greatly different depending on where you live.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  16. #15
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    I like the science behind this theory. No use kicking a dead horse if weather the next few years is likely to be poor for early production. Schedule adjustments may be imminent, short term goals readjusted to incorporate the reality of the (possible) situation.
    It's a good thing that you 'like' the 'science' behind the 'theory', that makes it much easier to believe.
    A crisis is much more creditable than a aberration.

  17. #16
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    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    My bees are refusing to build up and many are dwindling. I did some hopeful padgening Tuesday one of the only near normal temp days we have had. Eight inches of fresh snow a new record for the date right now. It won't last but it's pretty obvious the snow and cold are not done. Normally I would have been equalizing hives by now.

    This is just part of natural variability we have to deal with. It may just be a normal solar minimum but its looking more ominous and may be on the order of the aforementioned Maunder Minimum that produced the fine violins but killed the orchards and vinyards and probably some northern honey production of the day.
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 04-16-2018 at 01:50 PM.

  18. #17
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    Indeed, a month late, but fantastic.
    Last winter we were complaining endlessly about long cold winter, snow, etc. I was at the Nanaimo and one of the old timers that's been keeping bees full time since the early 80's piped up. It was what he calls a 'normal' winter, back to what was considered normal in the 80's and 90's.

    This year, everybody is complaining about 'everything is a month late'. I have records of bloom dates for most of the important spring blooms since we moved into this area 5 years ago. It's interesting to note, most of them are within a week one way or the other of the average date of bloom for these plants. Maples as an example, wife and I have been commenting how late it is as we watch the tree out back waiting, and finally we marked it down as 'April 10'. So now looking at the dates over the last 5 years for that particular tree:

    2014: April 7
    2015: March 22
    2016: March 27
    2017: April 14
    2018: April 10

    5 does not make a good statistical sample, but the trend is April 3 with a deviation of +- 10 days roughly, and this year is a week behind based on average.

    Another one we watch carefully as it's one of the early things the bees attack with a vengeance is the skunk cabbage in the stream behind the house.

    2014: April 5
    2015: April 2
    2016: March 25
    2017: April 1
    2018: March 25

    Trend here is March 31 plus or minus 6 or so days. This year was ahead of the average by a few days.

    One thing we've learned by keeping these records, our memory on such thing is very bad, and highly biased toward 'those best years'. When we actually track it, and crunch the numbers is when we realize how bad the memory is. For this year, some things are early, some later, but in general it works out to 'average plus or minus a week on individual blooms'.

    Having records going back a few years helps tremendously when trying to plan out our schedules for the upcoming year. Another one I look at is temperatures. I have a data logger that logs outside temperature every 5 minutes and has done so for 5 years here. From that I know with certainty, prior to May 15 there are going to be cold overnight temperatures such that if I make up a weak nuc, it's more than likely to end up with chilled brood at some point in the next week. It's interesting to look at annual graphs because right around May 15 it's like a huge switch gets thrown by mother nature. Prior to that date, occaisional dips to near freezing overnight are quite regular. After that date, the lowest we see is 7C, and this is very consistent year over year. For this reason, it comes as absolutely no surprise to me, right around May 15 is when we start seeing bees get into swarm mode.

    Having records like this has completely changed the way we plan for upcoming bee season. It has also shown us, when folks complain about 'everything is a month late', it's only a month late if you use the earliest historical bloom dates as the 'normal' against which you are comparing. If you compare against the actual averages, not so much.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Digital photos work great for me for timeline records. They are all time date marked and easy to refer to. The images are sometimes shocking and show a lot of detail I would forget with written notes.

    Looking at the details of the sun spot activity, the last few years sure make sense with the 20/20 hindsight.

    In 2014, around Christmas time I had near 70 F weather, crazy early brood rearing. It was a nightmare of bee activity, frantic foraging when there was nothing to collect. That also included shortened life of winter bees and stimulated early mite growth along with the brood. It continued all winter with warm and dry conditions so bad I had mature trees, especially the cedars take huge hits of not die completely.

    Here is a photo of Dry Bee pro open feeding at the end of Dec, when I should have had snow on the ground and temps in the 20-30's.
    I've lived in this house for almost 40 years & never seen anything quite like it.

    P1250081.jpg

    P1250083.jpg

    I had been interested the last couple years in the solar Maximum and sun spot activity, ( EMP threats, increased radiation on my skin as I worked out in the sun day in and day out, etc) but didn't take into account it's potential effect on weather and didn't realize it had dropped off so quickly! The history and records of solar phases are quite fascinating if you do some research.

    Each fall/early winter I do research NOAA info and ocean temps to try to forecast winter and spring conditions. (El-Nino, La-Nina projections) But as factual as the ocean temps and jet stream projections can be, What is driving those? The solar influence is certainly a factor, possibly a huge factor.

    I had based my schedule for spring sales on what I had been able to achieve in last few years. But I agree, the current weather is more like the old norm as I grew up, recent years have been particularly mild. That's where I realize my mistake in scheduling. I thought I was totally realistic when it was an illusion based on a few years of unusually mild weather.

    While I don't promise sale nucs or queens early and make it clear my Northern climate makes them very weather dependent. I tell them they can get imported nucs earlier and for less money than my overwintered Northern nucs, some customers are still slightly disappointing when they are not ready as soon the sun finally makes a showing.

    What I mean when I say ' Schedule adjustments may be imminent, short term goals readjusted to incorporate the reality of the (possible) situation' is:
    Perhaps if due to the lack of (projected )sunspot activity, I will plan to produce fewer nucs, schedule them for later in spring and do more honey production, since the late flow seems to coincide with the late build up. With the additional moisture, makes the flow pretty darn productive. ( As long as weather cooperates at that time, of course) Those are the adjustments I want to be able to plan, not just blindly hoping for a good spring and take more deposits than I will be able to ultimately fill in a timely manner.

    Forecasting weather is a crap shoot. We all know that. But as I said, in hindsight, the sunspot activity coincided almost perfectly with the resulting weather.

    I always felt I was pretty diversified and flexible with what I do here. This is a good example of that. I don't rely on any one thing as my product so I can adjust to conditions. I have plenty of demand for bees and queens, but if weather restricts production, I can turn to honey production without missing a beat.. Or offer other services so I at least cover my overhead in lean years.

    But I have to be smart enough to recognize significant weather anomalies are a reality and use all the information I can find to address them/ predict them before they cause me to go down the wrong road for too long.

    I don't like to be a day late and a dollar short..so I try to plan as best I can. Also helping educate my customers/facebook followers so they also have realistic expectations and no surprises, no matter who they get their bees from.
    Last edited by Lauri; 04-13-2018 at 02:39 PM.
    Lauri Miller.
    Carniolan Hybrids. Glenn, Latshaw & Wild lines.

  20. #19
    Join Date
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    Discussing the weather in this thread is fine.

    Don't make the mistake of assuming that turning this thread into a political rant on climate connected issues is going to happen.

    Further posts that don't respect that line will get "visibly" deleted.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Solar minimum phase the reason for the cold spring weather 2017 & 2018?

    So...sunspots or not, it appears that spring has actually arrived here in Virginia. Meanwhile, family members in Wisconson are digging out from a blizzard. Go figure.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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