I attended a beginning beekeeper summer check-in class in mid-June, and terms like dearth, robbing, and right sizing were explained. At the time, I didn’t realize how quickly I would experience all these things! Today’s post is about dearth, and the importance of feeding a new colony, something I kind of learned the hard way!
CRAZINESS! That’s a good word to describe my bee colonies this September! It’s been very unpredictable, and they are keeping me on my toes!
As you know, California is experiencing the worst drought in over a century. It is dry, VERY DRY out here. It has been for the past three years. This is the hottest summer I remember since I moving here in 1996, we’ve had several over 100 degree days. The drought means nectar flow season is completely messed up.
Fruit trees bloomed 2-3 months early, and although we typically don’t get rain from May – October, we are normally able to water ornamental plants that provide nectar and pollen for honeybees and other pollinators. This year, many people stopped planting or watering their ornamental plants; that caused the flow of nectar to be less than usual and it also stopped earlier in the season, at least two months early. When nectar flow ceases it’s known as dearth, and although dearth happens every year, the drought conditions have made nectar extremely scarce this year and for the past few years.
Last year, my colonies didn’t experience any robbing. My husband made robbing screens to help protect their entrances from yellow jackets and bees from other colonies who might try to steal their honey.
This year is a completely different story! I was going to do one last hive check of the season on September 20th, a 99 degree day! Not a fun time to be in a bee jacket and hood 🙂
When I approached Zinna colony I noticed some weird behavior outside one of the boxes. I quickly realized that other bees were trying to get in and rob the sugar syrup in their feeder and honey inside the colony. Thank goodness I caught it early, otherwise the robbing bees may have overtaken this colony. Here’s pictures of what the early signs of robbing look like: View the pictures →
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