We are within several days of the most diverse collection of quality honey flowers that we will see in 2019. The windup has been fairly slow with very moist and relatively cool weather the past three weeks. Trefoil and yellow sweet clover are still near their prime, Dutch clover is strong, and white sweet clover started opening over the past couple of days. Red clover isn’t always the best honeybee forage, but it has had some visitors in the past ten days as well. Most of the first cutting of alfalfa is still standing in the fields due to the recurrent rains, but I don’t think the bees are heading there compared to the clover opportunities. It is the prettiest time of year for those of us watching for honey-yielding blossoms, and the bees are making some progress.
As usual over the past several years, a burst in June activity has brought down a few rounds of June rains that limit foraging opportunity. We often have to wait a few days for the bees to resume meaningful flight after significant rain, but this afternoon they bounced back well after another +1″ drenching in the past twelve hours. Here is a yellow sweet clover shot–it’s a high potential plant that often yields very little compared to white sweet clover (which is later blooming) due to the environmental conditions in Iowa. I usually blame some combination of excessive rain and temperatures below 80F for non-performance during the yellow sweet clover bloom.
The odds of rain are going down over the next several days, so there is a good chance that we will make a positive step in crop production in the next couple of weeks. Then again, almost every 20% chance of rain has generally come true in 2019, so we won’t get too excited about our prospects until the honey is in the boxes. July is usually the best honey month in Iowa, and basswood is going to open very soon in several locations. The moment is upon us! Good luck bees!