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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Monday, May 07, 2012

Signs of the diminshing Nectar Flow

In Atlanta our nectar flow is tied to the bloom of the tulip poplar.  When the tulip poplar is done, the nectar flow is pretty much over.  We will continue to have nectar sources and we always have a little bump in the availability of nectar when the sumac and catalpa bloom in late June/early July, but for now, it's over.

This has been a funny spring.  Everything is two weeks earlier than last year.  The privet hedge bloomed in coincidence with everything else, and it will be interesting to see how that flavors the honey.

If I couldn't look up in the tulip poplars above my backyard and see that the bloom is done, I could tell that the nectar flow is over by the behavior of the bees.  They are still primed to collect nectar and disappointed that it has almost suddenly stopped.

They indicate that it is over by collecting honey wherever they can.

I had the two frames below sitting under my deck since January when I discovered that my hives in my backyard had died.  These frames had been somewhat slimed by the small hive beetle and the bees ignored them…….that is, until today.  Today there are bees robbing out these two frames like crazy.




Also I have lots of wax under my house cut out of frames and waiting for Jeff to build us a bigger solar wax melter.    Some of that had remnants of honey in it and you can see bees all over the comb in the foreground.



Another way to tell that the nectar flow has ended is that the bees have slowed down in building comb.  Whether you use foundation or not, when the nectar stops, the bees stop drawing wax.  They have to have resources to build wax and without nectar, they have no fuel.

When you have foundationless frames, it's quite obvious as you can see in the empty hive box below from Morningside.  If you use foundation, there's an illusion that something is going on because each frame is full (of plastic foundation, that is) but in those boxes as well as my foundationless boxes, NOTHING is happening in Atlanta today.


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5 comments:

  1. It has been a strange Spring. I would be interested to know how the honey tastes too. I am sure you will let us know!

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  2. How long is your total nectar season? I live and the West and we are still picking up swarms. We have much more nectar flow time to go.
    Brad Drake, NV Bee Guy
    http://bradleydrake.wordpress.com/

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  3. It's about six weeks in Georgia. There's a small some time nectar flow in the fall of aster and goldenrod, but we can't count on that.

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  4. Linda,
    We are not that far north of you in Durham, NC. The lawns and meadows right now look like snow, with so much white clover in bloom. Blackberry is done and still seeing Tulip Poplar blooms that have fallen from Saturdays storm. My biggest hive had a huge swarm Sunday, think my swarm trap reeled them in.

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  5. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Thank you posting this, Linda. I cannot get any good information about this year's nectar flow on the internet. I'm in Charlotte, NC. We still have white clover everywhere too, but I saw a lot of tulip poplar petals on the ground after the storms of the past week. Everything bloomed at once here. My guess is that we are done too. My bees did the same thing with a dead hive I took apart last week. They wouldn't touch it and then two days ago, they were all over it.

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