The honey flow is an exciting time for beekeepers. The liquid gold comes in and your bees are at their busiest. If you are a beginner, here are a few tips on how to identify it, track it and things to do during the flow.
What is the honey flow? It’s when there is a steady flow of nectar and pollen, and good weather so that the bees can forage and make honey at an accelerated rate.
When does it occur? Typically during the summer months when the weather is good for flying, and flowers and crops are in bloom. The weather is consistently warmer with temperatures of 20°C or more, and there is enough heat for flowers to produce nectar. If you use a hive scale, it’s easy to see when it begins as you will start seeing a dramatic increase in the weight of your hive.
Your bees give cues. Your bees' behaviour will give you signs if the honey flow is on. If there is a honey flow, your bees will be busy foraging. Your frames will be filling up with nectar as the bees are in and out on collection trips. And, your hive will be gaining a lot of weight daily and weekly. In general, your bees are busy and happy, and you will see a lot of waggle dances happening.
Honey Flow Tips
Track the flow in your area and your hive’s development during the year. Over the years, you will begin to see a pattern. Track how many boxes you place and at what time during the season. You can do this with pen and paper or use a beekeeping app (search 'beekeeping' in your App Store).
Pay attention to when crops are being seeded. If your hives are located in rural areas, you will be able to plan for when crops are likely to bloom.
Combine colonies if you have a weak hive. You can combine two colonies by stacking two boxes with both queens in each box. Place newspaper between the two boxes to keep the queens separate. By the time the bees chew through the paper, one of the queens will likely have failed.
It’s a good time to requeen. During a nectar flow the bees are more likely to accept a new queen. The best time to requeen is between July and September.
No honey production? Check for disease. If your hive is not producing honey while your other hives are, take a good look at your brood nest to determine if there is a problem or disease.
Switch/invert boxes on a double box hive to promote honey production and get the queen moving through both boxes. This will also help set up the bees for taking any medicated syrup after the honey flow ends.
Make sure your bees have room. If they are filling frames with nectar and honey, you need to make sure they have space. Watch for signs of swarming.
At the end of the flow, make sure you remove your supers and start preparing for fall. Not sure when to take honey? See our previous blog on when to take honey.
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