Dearth?

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Jacobs
Guard bee
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Location: Greensboro, NC

Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

I have a swarm lure hive with some drawn comb, a little capped honey, and a piece of cloth with lemon grass oil stapled to the back of a frame. This is about 40 feet from my hives. Yesterday afternoon I noticed about 50-70 bees hovering around the front and going in the hive. It is the first interest any bees had shown. When they did take off they went in a different direction from my hives and from other hives I am aware of. They were gone by dark. My bees have not shown much interest in the box. I'm wondering if these are just opportunistic bees, an indication of a local dearth (tho I think my bees would be at the box more if it was) or an indicator of something else.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

I put out cappings wax and a couple of extracted frames early this week. It looked like I had 1 bee per cell on the frames and a carpet of bees on the wax. When I did this about a month ago after extracting the honey, the bees took some notice, but took their time cleaning the wax and frames. It looks like summer is cooking the nectar out of the plants that are blooming. I'm going to start keeping a closer eye on some of my lighter hives and be prepared to feed if necessary.
Wally
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Wally »

You have had some rain. I haven't. I have been feeding some hives for 2 weeks.
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

I wouldn't call it a full blown dearth around here, but the flow is definitely not what it was. My bees are working the white clover in the yard now, and had not been showing interest before. They are also showing interest in scraps of comb with honey on it that I left out after cleaning some frames in a hive. Two weeks ago they were ignoring it.

I guess robbing may not be too far down the road.

Also, a heads up to new beekeepers. Your sweet, docile bees may be less so once the flow is over. Use your veils and your smokers.
Doug Shaw
Nursebee
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Location: Millington Tennessee

Re: Dearth?

Post by Doug Shaw »

Hate to brag but I have already harvested four supers from one hive that I moved from Greensboro last winter, all frames were capped corner to corner. Guess it helps that I live in Shelby Forest in western Tennessee that has thousands of tulip populars and soybeans and cotton still coming. Do worry about the chemicals the farmers might be using.
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

Forget the crops and give me the tulip poplars. We have a number of them in my neighborhood. Even though our tulip poplars have pretty well played out, I don't think we are in a complete dearth now. David and I extracted honey yesterday, and today I placed an extracted frame in my yard to see how the bees would react. There were no more than 50-60 bees on the frame at any given time, and I think they managed to clean the one frame over the course of a long, warm day.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

Today is a different day. The bees are all over the extracted frames. They are doing a good job of cleaning them up.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

The "Jacobs Nectarometer" indicates a dearth at the house. Bees are investigating potential food sources they have not been showing interest in before. If this keeps up, I will move hive manipulations to much closer to dark so that if I trigger strong probing/robbing, there will be much less time for chaos and a better chance of getting it controlled.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

I reduced the honey content in my "nectarometer" from 3 oz./pint to 2 0z./pint about 10 days ago. The bees are emptying the jar in a couple of hours. I am now putting a veil on to check my bees since they are likely to be more defensive when little nectar is available. I am also paying attention when I open hives to make sure that any strong probing does not develop into full blown robbing.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

I reduced the nectarometer content to 1 oz./pint a couple of days ago. The bees emptied half of it and then ignored it. Yesterday, I upped the content to 2 oz./pint and the bees emptied it. Wet honey supers definitely spark chaos. The bees must be finding something, but not much. I'm going to take wet supers off the hives (above the inner covers and below the outer covers) and put them out for bees to finish emptying about 45 minutes before sunset, weather permitting. It will spark some chaos and probing but will leave less time for full blown robbing to develop.
reedyfork
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Re: Dearth?

Post by reedyfork »

The one plant I know my bees are still working hard is mountain mint. I've had it in my landscape for two years now, and the bees love it! Blooms from July 1 to around Sept 1, so the timing seems perfect when other nectar sources have "dried up".

I'm in urban Greensboro, near UNCG.
Jacobs
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

Bees in my yard have been working white clover in my yard regularly. Stadiem suggested I put out the nectarometer to gauge the status of the dearth. Despite a heavy dose of honey with water in the 1 pint jar, bees showed absolutely no interest in this food source. Reedyfork, I was really impressed with mountain mint at the Arboretum last year. I planted plugs late last season, and the plants are now about a foot high. I hope they will mature enough to bloom this season so that I can enjoy honey bees and other pollinators getting nectar during the dearth.
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

One or two bees have been to the nectarometer today, but bees are all over partial honey frames I had out to replace capped frames I took out of the hives today. I am letting them clean out the left over frames, and despite their enthusiasm, it has not triggered a robbing frenzy.
reedyfork
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Re: Dearth?

Post by reedyfork »

Agree - I just harvested some frames of honey in the middle of the day today, and there was zero interest or robbing behavior from any of my other hives. Not sure what's out there right now (clover, privet?), but it must be sufficient.
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

Still zero interest in the nectarometer with a honey water mix of 2 oz. honey in a 1 pint jar.
frank
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Re: Dearth?

Post by frank »

Thanks for the update. Hopefully, I can harvest some spring honey this weekend without having any robbing issues.
Jacobs
Guard bee
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:36 pm
Location: Greensboro, NC

Re: Dearth?

Post by Jacobs »

Yesterday afternoon, 2-3 bees checked out the nectarometer, but did not stop for a drink. The bees reached near chaos on some post extracting frames I had outside. These had been out for awhile and were mostly cleaned out before. Until yesterday, the clean out was at a slow, calm pace. I think the flow is winding down in my area.
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