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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been keeping bees for a long time, and in many different climates throughout these United States. I rarely kept more than six individual colonies, usually less than four. I was never much interested in harvesting honey, but I liked to work my management in favor of each colony harvesting the maximum amount.

In my present location, Tucson, Arizona, regardless of rainfall, I usually have an extremely strong flow from local Mesquite that starts 15 April and usually lasts until the end of June or first week of July (Summer rains can interfere with this - if it rains during the flow the rain will wash nectar from the flowers and delay the return of nectar secretion, but if the rains are strong near the end of the flow they can extend it or even inspire a small but later flow to return, after seed drop.) I have observed the behavior of the Mesquite trees during bloom and I believe they have this extended blooming time because they do not all bloom simultaneously, but stagger their flowering throughout the time of the Mesquite honey flow.

Here in the desert I only ever harvest a small amount of honey from my bees, just enough to supply family and friends. My focus is to grow bees and raise queens, besides honey is heavy, sticky, and messy.

It seems that if I manage my colonies so that they reach a strong population with a growing brood nest, just as the Mesquite flow begins, and then super them up, that I don't ever seem to have enough supers ready and available to contain the honey from the Mesquite flow. At the end of each season I always make a resolution to prepare more supers to use for the next seasons honey flow. Hopefully I will get busy and build a few hundred more supers for use this season.

Depending on seasonal rains, we can have wildflower flows anytime there is enough moisture, but no flows have ever even came close to the strength and duration of the Mesquite flow.
 

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Thats an interesting climate you're in John. Where I live something is blooming 12 months a year. It may not amount to much this time a year but the bees work it all the same.
Our bees are raising brood, although I haven't been seeing drones yet.
 

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More news from my piece of the Tucson desert:
Today the forecast says we have a 40% chance of rain. It is raining, but radar shows that it is within fifteen-twenty miles of my location, but none of it has actually arrived at my location or the foraging range of my bees.

The only rain that actually reached my location was back in early November. It was a good rain and got many wildflowers to germinate and start growing. Most of those wildflower seedlings have since perished, though some persist - scattered around in protected areas. If we get good rain from the storms that are passing over us now, those seedlings will mature and blossom, more seedlings may even grow to join them later in the Spring (possibly around the time of the Mesquite bloom). Whenever we get good rains, Summer or Winter, we have a nice growth of wildflowers that provide forage for the bees. Different wildflowers grow after the Winter rains than those that grow after the Summer rains.

This morning I checked on a group of queen cells, now post-emergent, that I had placed into mating nucs earlier last week. I check the cell to verify emergence, then locate the virgin to see how she looks. If she is homozygous for the Cordovan trait I mark the nuc with a white and a purple thumbtack, if she shows normal coloration, then I mark the nuc with a white and a red thumbtack. The white thumbtack to indicate a virgin, and the purple and red indicate Cordovan (purple), normal coloration (red), respectively. At future inspections, once the queens are laying and their brood is capped as worker, I remove the white thumbtack.

Today I grafted a bar of six queen cells, but to make room for them in the cell-builder, I first had to place one more ripe cell that I did not yet have a mating nuc ready for. I first checked a mating nuc containing a normal colored virgin to see if she had yet mated and began laying. If she had I would have caged her and placed her in my queen bank colony. She was not yet laying, so I next checked a mating nuc headed by a virgin Cordovan queen. She had already started laying and the centers of the middle three frames had nice areas of brood on both sides of each frame with the central portions capped as workers, bingo. I caged her, added five young workers as attendants and replaced her with the final ripe cell after placing it into a cell protector. I plan to keep her inside overnight, then I will decide which full-size colony to place her in as a replacement for an older and less-prolific queen.

Hopefully the rains will come and the bees will continue to thrive.
 
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