local-honey-bee-suppliesRJ Honey Farm

Dearth

dearth_vader

The dearth is not exactly Darth Vadar but it can be close!

What is the dearth? It is the time of year when resources, pollen and nectar, become scarce.

Not everything I describe will be seen, after all, these are bees. But what might you see in your hives?

Defensiveness. The wonderful insects who all year long were gentle and generally ignored you while you poked around their house can change into Godzilla. I cracked the top open on one hive and the bees started boiling out of the hole in the inner cover. Red flashing light! Leave them alone. Sometimes smoke won't even calm them down. If you persist, they'll get all over your veil and make the angry "I'm going to sting you" sound. They'll sting your gloves like a pin cushion. If you wear a jacket, your pants will get lit up. If you wear only a veil, I'm sorry for you. If this happens, put the top cover on and walk away. This is not fun beekeeping. My hand's perspiring as I type this!

What made the change? They are trying to protect their stores. Other bees might be trying to rob them out. Hornets, wasps and yellow jackets might be attacking the hive. There might be fewer young bees. The older ones can be cranky.

Not all hive are like this. If you inspect a hive during the dearth you might notice that there's little brood, maybe no eggs. Did your hive go queen less? Probably not. She's cut back her laying in response to the lack of pollen and nectar coming in. When the fall flow starts she'll ramp back up to lay the winter bees.

You may want to reduce your entrance. This gives the bees less area to defend against robbers. Slide the top cover back to close the upper entrance, too.

If you are harvesting honey, don't leave open honey supers in your yard. That will trigger a robbing frenzy. Think of a riot.

Have you treated for mites? Less brood means more mite exposure. Kill those suckers before they kill your hive.

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