Not only is this summer’s drought challenging our lawns, wells and gardens, but it is also effecting the honeybees (and I’m sure other pollinators). One “invisible” effect of the drought that flowers may blossom and look “normal”, but they may produce little or no nectar or pollen. For example, I have a large patch of white clover that typically is covered with all kinds of pollinators for the month that it blossoms – but this year, I barely had any bees frequenting the clover patch even thought the flowers looked like they always do. This is an indication that the clover wasn’t producing any nectar.
As part of my first steps for getting my hives ready for winter, I did a full inspection of my 5 hives & 2 NUCS two weeks ago. All of the hives had 2-3 frames of pollen, and I found 4 of the hives had between 10-15 frames of honey (40-60 lbs) – which isn’t as much as I’d like, but a good start. The other hive and the NUCS had almost no honey!!!.
Since each hive will need 60-100 lbs of honey to make it through the winter, I’ve started feeding 2:1 sugar syrup which mimics nectar/honey & the bees can use it over the winter for food. The two NUCs went through 1 quart of sugar syrup in 1 day! – an indication the bees are desperate to find nectar!
I’ll be buying lots of sugar from Sam’s club to get those stores built up in the hives… Here’s the approximate math:
- It takes ~8 lbs of sugar to make a gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup.
- The gallon weighs 8-10 lbs.
- If I want the hives to have ~100lbs of stores. I need to give the hives with 40-60 lbs, another 40+lbs of sugar syrup (or 4 gallons = 32 lbs of sugar).
- For the hive with no stores, I probably can’t get it to 100lbs so I’ll just give it as much sugar syrup as I can before the beginning of Nov (when I stop feeding)
- This means I’m looking at using over 150 lbs of sugar to feed the hives this fall!
If you have bees in NH, I’d recommend you check your hives & start feeding now to get those stores built up!.