2 Apr 2013

This is a season to forget

This is a continuation of the last subject - the current abysmal foraging conditions.  I am getting confirmation from all directions that this season is exceptionally bad.  This would be the time for many eucalyptus trees to flower, but very few do.  On the farm I have a large grey box just outside the window.  Normally, at this time of the year, it would be covered in flowers.  This year it developed no buds but instead now it shoots heaps of new growth.  New growth is fine, but it is of no use to my "girls".  Hives keep weight steady or slowly creep backwards. 

Today I came across an interesting short piece on Radio National Bush Telegraph program.  You can find it here:


It is an interview with a commercial beekeeper from SA.  He describes the conditions, very much the same as here.  He already started feeding sugar - much, much earlier than in normal years.  He tells about gum trees that survived the 10 years drought but this year are dying - the same story I have heard from a friend.  When I mentioned the miserable foraging conditions to a neighbour on the farm, he commented that indeed at that time of the year in the past trees were full of noisy cockies but there are all silent this year.  Birds have no reason to frequent the trees if no flowers are there.

Your bees have it tough new.  I advise no hive opening and no harvesting.  I do not recommend feeding sugar except as a matter of absolute necessity.  It is not true that bees like it or that it does them much good.  But it surely can prevent them dying of starvation if no honey is available.  I very much advise against any harvesting - your bees need THEIR honey to survive till spring.  Harvesting is fine when new nectar is coming, but not in a situation as it is now.  I would advise no harvesting regardless of how much honey there is in the hive.  Over the next few months bees will eat what they have to eat but what they do not need, they will leave for you to be harvested when the spring flowers come.

The sooner we can forget this season the better.


sarah said...

And the same is being reported out of NSW by Tim Malfoy - http://milkwood.net/2013/03/15/checking-the-bees-and-hoping-for-honeyflows/

I suppose it is now time to cross our fingers and wish our girls luck!!

doug said...

We have had stop start flows in Sydney Urban hives as well but have harvested well and as usual will leave 28kg or so of honey on each hive for winter..it will candy but will loosen over time.

photohodge said...

Some context from the world outside of Aussie . . .

. . . where a good year is when your bees make it through winter and spring without a mass die off. And a normal year is that 30-50% of colonies don't survive.

Many people haven't had any honey at all from their hives in years. Choosing to not treat your bees for varroa will likely mean they will die.

If varroa ever arrives in Aussie something like that scenario will be likely. Mind you - at least you have weather that is generally more conducive to the bees' needs. Strange weather in Europe (6 bad summers in UK) has been a contributory factor.