This depends on your local condition when the various flowers and veggies, etc are blooming.
That is why there is a what is blooming thread on top so we know what is available for the bees.
Because each week or months there are always something blooming. So you as a beekeeper need
to pay attention when you drive around to see what is blooming during that time. Over the years you
will have an idea to track them from year to year as local temperature will tell you. For example, if you
live in an area with acres of clover then you will know when the flowers bloom and put up supers for that
flow. Over here my bees will bring in whatever is available from the local fields and gardens in the surrounding
area. I would think about 2-3 miles radius they will forage. Because plant's blooming time is very temperature
sensitive with in a range you have to look for that in your area locally. That is why we have the 4 seasons for
all the available flora for the bees to feed in. So look around to see what is blooming in your area. Beekeeping is
local anyways. Right now boxwood? is blooming and bees went crazy over them as I saw it today in a mild sunny day.
Just last month my bees carried lots of pollen in to cover up to 6 frames all packed. This month they switched gear to
bring in more nectar with very few pollen collecting bees. So my guess would be either they have enough pollen and
switched to nectar collecting or the nectar plants started to bloom here. Or maybe the pollen plants already done with
the time. Either way it doesn't matter because I will do succession planting of the nectar and pollen plants and veggies
for them all year long until winter time.
Look for increased activity at the hive ,more bees coming and going,you will see a great deal of activity.also look for new white wax on the comb and some on the frames,this is a good indication of a nectar flow.I hope you have a great one.
Knowing what your main flow comes from is very important that will tell you when the flow is going on. Each area is a little different. I have always been interested in plants so watching them grow and knowing when they will bloom now is even more fun. But, even if you don't like that kind of thing just knowing what the main flow comes from will be beneficial. Take the time to stop and see how far along the plant is and you will have an idea of when your flow should start.
Another way to know is to know when swarm season starts. Your flow will normally start shortly after swarm season gets going. I'm on several swarm list so when the phone starts ringing I know its starting. But, I also know what's going on in my own hives and I stay in touch with other beeks in the area. Swarm season would be a good time to make splits.
As far as being able to tell by looking in the hive, you will start to see new white wax being made, you can also see the new nectar in the cells it will be clear and shiny, you can also take the frame and shake it over the hive to see how much nectar will shake out. New nectar will shake out after its been in the hive for about 24hrs they will have it dehydrated enough not to shake out.
Find out what the major nectar sources are in your area. Mine are:
Maple - Rapid increase in brood production – Begins in late Feb/early March and lasts several weeks as different varieties bloom at slightly different times. Weather is often fair enough for inspections during the maple bloom, and hive conditions may indicate that it is time to reverse brood chambers.
Dandelion - time to begin adding supers, reversing brood boxes, and other swarming counter-measures– mid/late March. Main Swarm issue usually begins about 3 weeks later.
Apple/fruit trees - Start of swarms issuing – April
Poplar, Black Locust - Main nectar flows in mid TN – May
Goldenrod - Begin getting colonies ready for winter – September
There are minor ones too of course, but in my area those are the important ones. Yours will surely be different.
Watch for those flowers to appear, and when you see nectar coming into your hives - that is really the main thing. There could be a main bloom going - poplar for example makes or breaks my honey crop - but if the weather doesn't allow the bees to go out and get it, or if excessive rain washes it out of the flowers (that happens) then it won't really be a flow. Nectar in the hives is all that counts.
Try a scale hive, that would be the quickest and least invasive. An increase in pollen coming in could be an indication. A few bees seem to find a little polen almost all the time. But, if all of a sudden a lot of bees start bringing baskets full of pollen may indicate the start of a flow.
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