Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun! The season is almost over and many beekeepers will be very happy with their honey crop this year. The hot dry weather has been great for the bees with a lot of honey collected and good conditions for drawing out wax on frames. Did you notice the white blooms of the native Heketara tree flowering in spring? The last time I saw flowering similar to that was about 5 years ago – when we had the last drought! This has been noticed before by beekeepers , when the Heketara flowers in spring, watch out you may be in for a drought, or at least a good long dry summer.
After a slow start, the bees really took off. We harvested the Spring crop in late December, mostly Kamahi, just in time before the Manuka started flowering. It was even later than normal this time, mid December is generally when it flowers. Masses of flowering this year which finished in late January. There was such a strong flow of honey this year, that I don’t think the bees even noticed us taking off the honey, they were too busy getting the next load! We undertook our third harvest in mid March, the summer crop, (thistle, clover, rata). The beehives now have entrance reducers on to keep the wasps out and all have varroa strips, because mite levels are now high.
Four Brothers Reserve
This farm has changed hands and is now owned by a native forest restoration society. The pasture has been left to do its own thing and there were flowers and long grass everywhere. Despite this the bees didn’t do quite as well as we hoped, but we did get a sufficient crop to allow us to do a pack.
I was out with our eldest boy at this site on a hot windy day in January with a very high pollen count. He went for a wander through the grass while I looked at the bees. Next thing he was coming back with tears streaming down his checks and welts coming up on his skin. Then he started coughing and gasping for breath – yes he had an anaphylactic reaction to the grass pollen. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and we got him some treatment, but now he carries an Anapen!
We hit seven stories high on some of the hives at this site! Packed with bees and honey and a very good crop taken off. We are down to the last two jars of last years Hakarimata honey, so the sooner we get this extracted the better!
We did manage to get a crop of manuka honey from this apiary site – fantastic honey and while the crop was small we have come up with a great way to eat it! Look out for this honey at the Farmer’s Market in Hamilton and give it a try.
Our new trial site, the hot dry weather has been very tough on this farm and flowering finished early. The nectar flow has been a stop/start affair and the bees have generally been a bit below par. However, that’s what happens when you try a new site and it takes a while to understand the nuances of the area. The site has masses of lupins and the bees draw huge amounts of brightly coloured pollen from the flowers. The frames are full of pollen. We have harvested a small quantity of honey and what we have tasted has been very different. A salty, gritty taste – sort of like the sea! And it tastes great, so we will make it available and see what everyone thinks.
Our home apiary site and where we collect our bee pollen. This has been a tough year for collecting bee pollen in the Waikato – the wet spring meant that pollen collection was below average and then the bees became very focused on collecting honey in summer! Here’s hoping that Spring 2013 treats us kindly!