Well, I am fully committed to keep the posts fresh for this site. The first of which will be a little of a recap of the end of the 2013 season. First off, it was a very different season than last year. Last year was a boom of a honey crop for us, yet it seems the mid-west was really mixed from what I read and heard. Most of the beekeepers in the area (Kankakee and surrounding counties of Illinois) said they got very good crops. It was an early start in 2012 for sure as the hot weather came early giving the bees plenty of time and opportunity to hit the early trees (maples and willows) to start an early build-up.

Fast forward to this year and it seemed to be a fairly good start (although not nearly as soon with the hot weather) with some moderate weather and fairly steady temps. The rain came late, though which changed things up for most beekeepers.

Unlike most farming operations, rain does not always help the honey crop. Rain at the wrong time and can completely stop the bees from visiting certain blooms. Not sure if that was the case for the goldenrod this year, but I did not get much of a goldenrod flow at all.

early goldenrod

early goldenrod

It may be a little of an oversimplification to think that rain can not hurt other farming operations. I know that too much rain can wipe out entire crops, but in the case of beekeeping, a little rain off and on can really affect a flow.

So, the goldenrod bloom did not pan out much this year. Which is not usually a big factor unless you were planning that in to your calculations of winter stores. I was. So my word of caution to others reading this now in early winter, if you did not leave extra honey, have not checked, or have not fed your bees yet you may be too late. A few of my hives have already been found dead due to starvation. The bloom that did come in instead of the goldenrod was the white aster that is seen a lot around these parts. When this picture was taken on 9/20 the field was literally buzzing there were so many bees on it. But as you may already know just because the bees are out flying does not mean that a good flow of nectar or pollen is coming in.

the field was a buzz for sure

the field was a buzz for sure

I have started to feed many of my hives; which I do not normally like to do at all. I never like to do it this early-November. January or February OK if really needed, but November is pretty crazy.

So there are of course going to be those that say it was just me and poor management of my bees that is where I am for this Fall/Winter. And to that I can say, yes I am a little more of a hands off beekeeper than some. I do not subscribe to the idea of going through an exact regiment year after year for sure-feed this time all bees, medicate this time all bees, split this time all bees. It is this approach that has partly gotten us to the predicament we are in right now in all of our farming endeavors. I like to keep as hands off as I can and watch for changes in each hive/area. I also journal every single time I go out so I can compare one year, area, or ‘style’ to another. My hive counts are low so this may sway the stats a little, but it helps over time I’m sure to see what is working or what needs to be stopped.

In conclusion of the year end bloom for 2013 I must say that it was not a good one for sure. It will hurt me most likely, and hopefully I can recover the best that is possible. In reading the reports for the midwest bees in American Bee Journal I can see I am not alone. Honey was also mixed (which makes sense as blooms tend to go hand in hand with flow). Of the late blooms that were out, I saw bees pretty much covering what ever they could find. Which unfortunately could mean desperation in some cases.