Getting Ready for Another Winter

Through the years of beekeeping, I have learned a lot! The Bees have taught me!!

What have the Bees taught me in 2023?

  • The Bees are doing FINE!! They do not need any added anything to their hives. The bees know what to do and they know how to do it! I have had a very productive 2023, with 200 pounds of honey harvested and only 1 hive lost. The loss of the one hive was the beekeeper’s fault. Playing with different types of hives. Sometimes the bees do not like what you chose for them.
  • I have always know that bees want to swarm in Spring. This becomes a very important brood break for the hive and the Queen. The Queen does not leave the hive unless she is mating or swarming. This is a very important time for her and I believe extends her life. So many queens were wimpy and have to be replaced through the year. The process of swarming strengthens the hive and the Queen. Beekeeper manipulation of splitting a hive just is not the same as letting them swarm. The Bees do a much better job of splitting the hive!!
  • The Bees pattern of foraging change according to what is blooming. Each year I see some flowers blooming at earlier or later times. Thankfully the true food producers are blooming close to the same time each year, but even those can vary with weather.
  • This year the Tulip Poplar trees had buds on them very early. Like normal, they leafed out around the 1st of April. 21 days later, when the blooms were ready to open, we had a frost. It killed some of the blooms at the very top of the tree, but the tree then pushed out its lower blooms and the bees still brought in a record amount of nectar.
  • Tulip Poplar is my honey producing forage. Other plants, like clover are good nectar plants too, but the Tulip poplar usually wins the honey producing tree of the year.
  • The bees have taught me that they really do not need me. I have been a fairly hands off beekeeper in 2023 and the Bees are doing great. It just shows me that because bees have been around for a Long time -they really do not need me. We the people and beekeepers need the honey bees. Not the other way around.

The Honey Bees gave me a wonderful Honey Harvest in 2023 and I have seen them foraging on plants that I had always heard were a food source, but never saw them visiting. This year I saw them on Yarrow, False Dandilion, Sundrops, Spider Wort, Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena), Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra) and Horehound (Marrubium vulgare).

As my gardens grow and become more established, the bees find the plants that are strong and produce the best nectar. Bees will only go to a larger patch of flowers. If a plant is just planted, only has a few blooms or not into it’s 3rd or 4th year, Honey Bees tend to not go to them because they do not produce enough food sources.

My plans for 2024 is to plant more trees. More Holly and some American Hazelnut.

Here are a few of my Bees foraging on the wonderful flowers of 2023.

The growing season is over. My Bees have done a wonderful job in 2023 and it is my job to now let them rest through winter. Enough food is the key to keeping my bees healthy and ready for 2024.

It also gives me, the beekeeper a break!!


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