Beekeeping Blog

Honey Flow Potential: June 2020

June is almost always a time of great hope for an impressive honey flow in Iowa. As the image above shows, we’ve been running around getting boxes on everything in hopes of catching some early surplus honey. Andrew has enjoyed climbing around the trucks and making “steps” of the boxes so that he can get them loose and relay them to the bee team on the back of the trucks!

Right now the clovers are especially opening, and there are a lot of them. Dutch clover, sweet clover, red clover, and some trefoil are all popping enough blossoms to give a hopeful beekeeper plenty of anxious butterflies. We’ve experienced a cooldown of a few days that included a heavy rain of around 2″. This is probably good for setting up ideal conditions, provided that we get the warmup into the mid 80s that is forecast. The cool spell and moisture allows the plants to develop vegetatively as they enter their bloom, and it also sets up the later flowers for subsequent blooms. The key for actually getting honey will be heat without too much rain, though periodic showers with high humidity will be just fine in our environment. It doesn’t look like the late May locust flow went into surplus boxes, but at least the bees in those areas were well fed….there are some heavy brood boxes out there among the trees.

Since we had late May heat that can result in surplus honey to collect, I prioritized getting supers on all the hives over getting every hive in the exact location where I want it to spend the summer. As a result we are moving around some supered hives to finish the 2020 distribution. Then there are another several dozen baby hives that I’m putting together for maturation and holding up our hive count through the summer, but they don’t really need to be out in a honey yard for a couple more weeks. That’s all to say most of the hives are supered and placed.

Here are pics from one of our recent outings bringing bees back to the Iowa fields and timber lands:

Bees bearding in transit on an extra steamy Iowa morning….at least we know the hives are strong going into the summer bloom!
These are the hives from above supered on the same day that we placed them. This is how we accelerate our work in late May and June.

As I always mention, our hopes for June are usually high with quite moderate returns in reality. Late June and July tend to be the bigger flows, but this is a situation of being prepared for the best, which somehow seems happier than just being prepared for the worst (which is also part of our business plan)! I have seen a few hives working two surplus boxes, but most of them have not gone above the excluders. May the next few weeks prove kind for the bees!

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