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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Whenever we get significant rain here in the Sonoran Desert it is a good day for we local beekeepers to cheer. Last Summer we got some of our seasonal rains, but in my precise location they weren't heavy enough nor frequent enough to make much of a difference in our wildflowers. There were just enough rains to start the wildflowers growing, then they just dried up before they flowered.

Again, this past November we had two days where some rain fell, but it wasn't nearly enough to get the wildflowers from seed to flowering. But finally this week (the last week of January 2010) we received several rain storms, even tornado alerts, and enough precipitation (possibly more than two inches overall) that the wildflowers should now be inspired to grow until they bloom, giving a wide variety of nectar and pollen availability within another month or two.

It's 48F right now at 8:30AM and it's supposed to get up almost to 60F by 2PM, so between 10AM and 2PM I plan to go graft a new set of queen cells. I usually use JZBZs push-in queen cell cups, but I think this batch I'll use beeswax cups. :D
 

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I was also doing rain dances here last week in Blythe , Ca . I'm sure it was the same storm that caught you guys . However , i think i danced too much because a Tornado actually did touch down! Anyway now that its all over the valley is drenched and the wildflowers will be coming up shortly. Gotta love it. Just in time for splits. Come on El Nino year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It rained again, about two inches, it started last night and ended just before noon, today.

The bees are already bringing in pollen from Wild Mustard and Creosote Bush, with this much rain, there should be lots more wildflower forage very soon. I certainly expect a boom year.
 

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Joseph, is your main crop a wildflower mixture, or do you get a predominate type of honey from a particular flower?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In my location, Picture Rocks area of Tucson, I get a huge flow from Mesquite, from April 15 until the end of June or first week of July. This flow is the only one that comes regardless of the weather, unless it is raining during the flow (if it rains, the bees can't get it, and the rain washes the nectar away and that reduces the nectar secretion). It has been reliable, even after several years without any precipitation. When the Mesquite flow comes, it seems like a torrent of nectar.

No matter what time of the year, if we get significant precipitation, we soon after get a flow from wildflowers. The composition and strength of these flows depends on the time of year and where, how much, and duration of rains.

The first time we had strong Winter rains was about ten years ago. The desert was soon transformed into an amazingly thick (chest high) carpet of assorted wildflowers. Most of which I had never seen in the desert, before or since. When it rains in the Summer (which happens much more often than Winter rain), the wildflowers that grow after Summer rains are completely different than those that grow after Winter rains.
 

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Joseph,
Congratulations on the rain. We're still in winter here and expecting snow again this week. All the moisture should get the flowers going here when it warms up.

Just wondering what's the difference in the honey between the wild flowers and mesquite? Is the wildflower honey lighter, sweeter than the mesquite? I don't think I've ever had mesquite honey.

Up here we have a pretty good Dutch white and sweet yellow clover flow in the spring and summer. Honey is pretty light and tasty. In the summer into fall there is a great sunflower flow and the honey is lemon yellow and very sweet. It starts to cream in 3 to 4 weeks. It would probably be good to use in cakes and cookies.
 

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The desert is quite an amazing place, how the plants are designed to live in such a tough environment, and how rain can transform it so quickly that its almost unrecognizeable. What is the character of the mesquite honey, color, viscosity, taste?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Most seasons the Mesquite honey is not mixed with any other significant source. It is very light in color, a very light amber. It begins to crystalize almost immediately, so it is easiest to extract as soon as it is ripe, while it is still warm from the hives. It does not have a strong flavor, its' flavor is subtle. If there are good rains early in the season, such as what's happening now, the Mesquite honey will be mixed with a wide variety of wildflowers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow, another storm is raining on us again, right now (28Feb).

In the post just prior to this one, I had the month wrong, it should be Feb not Mar, I guess I'm too anxious for Spring to arrive.
 

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We got back from Sedona late yesterday. We were going to stay until Monday a.m. but decided not to stick around for the storms. It seemed like it was pretty wet down there. I didn't see anything blooming other than landscaped stuff, but there were bees working some flowering plum. Lots of snow in Flag, and parts west to NM looked like they had nice moisture recently. The desert should be awesome this spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I can't remember a season where we've had this much rain in late Winter/early Spring. I'm already starting to see the start of a wildflower flow; they're bringing in rape (wild mustard), lots of creosote bush, some Orange Fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii. But there are carpets of wildflower seedlings almost everywhere and in a few more weeks there should be a riot of color across the desert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, most of this amazing storm bypassed us, though the little that reached us gave us almost another inch - the storm is now supposed to linger until sometime tomorrow, Tue, 9Mar2010. I hope it brings even more moisture, we've been in a drought (even for the desert that we are), and we've already received more than our usual annual allotment. More will help get us out of drought mode.
 
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