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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here in VA, we had a 3-week drought starting in late June, with temps in the 90's. All the flowers vanished. Honey production stopped abruptly. Dearth time. I started feeding a little 1:1 here and there.

Last year, dearth lasted from July until the first week of September. But for the last 10 days, we have gotten afternoon showers/thunderstorms almost daily. Today, I see TONS of pollen coming into the hives. White pollen and dark yellow pollen.

Could a rainy summer cause the flow to begin again? I don't like to open hives at this time of year, but should I check for fresh comb and honey, if this keeps up? MIght I need to put supers back on? Is this possible?

And has anyone else noticed this happening in their area?
 

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Yes, with that much rain spread out over that many days, the flows could be back on now. We are 5 weeks past summer solstice so you might be getting some of the earlier fall flow flowers coming out. There are late summer flowers also when there's enough rains or moisture. Each location is a little different.

Whether or not you need to add space is determined by inspections to see just what's up. Keep in mind it's passed summer solstice so bees are changing from expansion mode to condensation mode, storing honey to the sides and over the somewhat shrinking brood nest area this time of year. The shrinking broodnest is just starting here.
 

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I would expect that much rain to get flowers and plants going.

Around here I only have one flow. It starts in the spring and runs to the summer or fall depending on the weather. I would inspect and consider adding supers.
 

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I'm a good bit West of you but on approximately the same longitude- the bees are working indeterminate soybeans pretty hard right now. Do you have any beans in the neighborhood?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, there are a couple of soy fields around, the closest is about 3 miles away. I hope my girls can find it. What color is soy pollen?

We have some white pollen coming in, but most of it is dark yellow/orange. And suddenly I am noticing flax, mini-daisies, buttercups, black eye Susan, queen Ann's Lace (yuck!) and other flowers along the roadsides. Not sure how much flow they can produce, but it's nice seeing any kind of flowers. It was completely barren 10 days ago.

Hopefully, things will continue on this trend.
 

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Here in Illinois this can happen. July is normally hot and dry and can be a hard dearth some years. Other years it depends on the soybeans, as Litsinger says. This year we have gotten great rains in July after a poor spring and the bees are putting in a lot of nectar. I don't know what plants.

I'd say take a quick peek to see if there is much nectar present and decide then. If you are worried about robbing, smoke ALL the hives before opening the first hive, and have entrance reducers or robbing screens handy.
 

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What color is soy pollen?
Soybean pollen is a very light yellow- almost white. Here's an interesting video showing hand cross pollination of soybeans:


And here's a nice write-up about soybean foraging by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture:


Around here the bees are working partridge pea, soybeans, sneezeweed and crepe myrtle. The sumac and devil's walkingstick are getting close.

Orange pollens (particularly late in the season) tend to come from the aster family.
 

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Could a rainy summer cause the flow to begin again? I don't like to open hives at this time of year, but should I check for fresh comb and honey, if this keeps up? MIght I need to put supers back on? Is this possible?
#1 question - is there a local forage base that is to bloom at the timeframe under the question?
As long there is - sure.

But if there is no forage - you can water your lawn and corn fields all you want, they will produce nothing.

For example, in all of my locations rain means some guarantied flow at all times.

But just yesterday I scouted out a new location (someone offered).
Green desert.
Too bad, but I am not excited for that location even if it is convenient (not that I am under pressure for more locations).
Rain at that place will only water corn/soy fields and not much else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Greg,
Soybean is the one I'm told can be the big flow at this time. Unfortunately, the closest field of it I know of is about 4 miles away. Misc. wildflowers make up the rest, IF we get regular rain. If they are still bringing in stuff next week, I'll probably pop some lids and see what's in there. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Litsinger,
Thanks for that info and video. I'm guessing the almost-white pollen is either that or white clover. They are bringing in about 70% orange and 30% of the almost white pollen.
Whatever it is, I'm glad to see it.
 

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Greg,
Soybean is the one I'm told can be the big flow at this time. Unfortunately, the closest field of it I know of is about 4 miles away. Misc. wildflowers make up the rest, IF we get regular rain. If they are still bringing in stuff next week, I'll probably pop some lids and see what's in there. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
................
It maybe differences in the soybean cultivars, etc.

For example I am aware of some sunflower cultivars (some self-pollination has been bred into them) - they are lousy forage plants that I read about, unlike the conventional cross-pollinated sunflower varieties.

I imagine the soybeans are along the same line; in my locations the soybeans are not considered a good forage.
But also this has to do how the soybean bloom overlaps over the other forage plants - bees can be choosy when given options (or otherwise with little options available).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@thill- at least around here, white clover pollen tends to be a light brown 'putty' color.
Interesting. I have seen that color, but not lately.

It maybe differences in the soybean cultivars, etc... I imagine the soybeans are along the same line; in my locations the soybeans are not considered a good forage.

But also this has to do how the soybean bloom overlaps over the other forage plants - bees can be choosy when given options (or otherwise with little options available).
I don't know much about the soybeans they cultivate here, but I know it looks almost unnaturally weed-free. Probably swimming in RoundUp.

Go, native plants, GO!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Had to run some errands today and noticed a TON of goldenrod just getting started. Definitely the source of the dark yellow/orange pollen.

This is early, compared to average, and it begs a question.... If the goldenrod starts up now, will it still be around to push the fall flow, or will it be gone a month from now?
 

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Had to run some errands today and noticed a TON of goldenrod just getting started. Definitely the source of the dark yellow/orange pollen.

This is early, compared to average, and it begs a question.... If the goldenrod starts up now, will it still be around to push the fall flow, or will it be gone a month from now?
depends on how many varieties you have in your local area, ours is starting and some will still be going late into sept.
 

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Greg, you must have a manicured all grass lawn. We are in a drought, but if we get a sprinkle, the bees are all over the clover and creeping charlie and other "weeds" that they ignored before it rained. J
My neighbors do and wish I did the same.
They hate me for my "lawn" because it tends to spill over!

Regardless, my 1/4 acre property (minus the house) has near-zero value to my bees - does not matter what I do on it.
It is too small to bother with.

Creeping Charly is my backyard - remember it is long since done blooming to even talk about.

White clover/bird trefoil is all over in the parks here - yes, a good rain can reboot them but only for a short-time - 2-3 days max.
The shallow rooted grasses are very sensitive to moisture (which quickly evaporates in July/August heat).

They quickly run out of nectar - you need the good rain repeating every 2-3 days for them to produce much.
OR the area must be moist from the under.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Your neighbors hate you... My WIFE is starting to hate me! I planted clover in our grass last year, and it did little, but this year it's thick. The bees love it, and that's the prolem. My wife keeps getting bees between her toes when she walks to the garden. (Ouch!) She put up with if for awhile, but finally demanded that I cut it or she would. I finally agreed, but as I started cutting, I watched bee after bee go under the blades. So we made a compromise. I cut trails to the garden, chicken coop, her shed and so on and left the rest. Looks terrible, but the bees were happy. Now, the clover is about over, so I plan to cut it all tomorrow.

We have afternoon showers forecast for the next 7 days, so maybe it will come back. But with all the rain, it may not matter. I think the fall flow will be starting early. The bees are so busy that I thought it was robbing later this afternoon. I went out to take a look, and bee after bee after bee came back with full pollen baskets. Even the little nucs are bringing in lots of pollen. Not sure if there is nectar to go with it but at least the bees look happy.
 
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