Mid-summer nectar flows

The beekeeping season in Kentucky is changing, our spring/early summer nectar flow is ending, and hive checks are highly suggested. For non-Kentucky beekeepers, your nectar flow may still be on, if you are not sure about your local conditions, I suggest that you talk to other beekeepers, your bee inspector, or university beekeeping extension specialist. (Note: I also live in central Kentucky.)

I recently received the following question from a Central Kentucky beekeeper.

A Kentucky beekeeper asks:

Checked several of my hives for honey today. What do you think we found? Girls are all bottoms up and eating their honey? Need your expertise regarding current honey production in central KY. Rain, what’s it doing? What’s out there to eat right now? Would appreciate your observations.

Phil’s reply:
I think the nectar flow in Central Kentucky is now greatly reduced, compared to what we have been seeing earlier in the summer. I had suspected this, and last Monday (July 13th) at the Blue Grass Beekeeper’s Assoc. a number of other beekeepers told me that they had similar observations.

There is some white clover still blooming, and possibly other flowers, not just much nectar coming in. What the bees are collecting is largely due to the recent rain, and the landscape is still very green. The recent rain has not appeared to be interfering with foraging, we have mostly seen thundershowers in Kentucky, not all day steady rain.

Your comment about bees eating what is in the supers is a good warning for beekeepers. If they have honey in the supers, my opinion is to harvest it, then feed if necessary. However, decisions on to feed, or not to feed, should be made on checking the hive, either by pulling dome frames, or ‘hefting’ the hive. Hives should have the equivalent of 3-4 deep frames of honey, or 3-4 deep frames.

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