I have been saying to many clients and students who started beekeeping in the Spring of 2016 that they started in a very rough season. The Ironbarks in the Great Brisbane Area really didn’t perform, which left bees with poor stores and worse brood patterns leading up to Christmas. The new year brought little forage, but some students in coastal areas managed to pick up a bit of the Melaleuca which put their hives in good shape for Winter.
Many clients who made early Spring splits were instead asking me for advice on how to feed their bees – something that is very expensive, time consuming and ultimately not an ideal diet for the honey bee.
Now, twelve months later I have clients contacting me in distress as their hives swarm again and again.
“They’re congested!” I say.
“But I only took honey off two weeks ago,” They reply.
“Well, this is what it’s like in a good season! Get out there!” I exclaim.
So beekeepers have gone from spending all season feeding their bees and watching them limp along to spending the whole season run off their feet harvesting and extracting honey in a hope to stop them from swarming every other week.
This is the nature of beekeeping in Australia. Erratic seasons mixed with erratic honey flows. Every other year the Christmas/New Year break has seen hives really slow down. Some queens even stop laying for a week or so as nothing really flowers in the Redland City area.
This year, I return after two weeks without tending to my apiaries to find them building honeycomb all through the lid. What a delightful mess! Have a look at the photo above to see how strong the hives are – bubbling over.
Allan always says to me “Every season is different, don’t think that next season will be the same as this one.”
So, in the end, during the tough times we can hope that next season is better (and make preparations for it) and in the good season make sure we are grateful for the bounty of a honey flow we’ve been gifted!
(Here’s hoping that the honey flow continues right through our Level 2 Workshop that starts this Saturday.)