You have probably seen or heard in the media that this season's honey harvest will be significantly down. We think we are down by about 50% but we won't know for sure until the honey is all harvested at the end of this month. You may wonder what affects honey volumes and why each season can be so dramatically different.
Just like any agricultural business we rely heavily on the weather patterns. Our bumper crops have always been in long dry summers. Of course we need a little rain to help the flowers grow but not some much that it stops the bees flying to collect nectar. Wind is also a problem, the wind blows the flowers off the trees/plants and the wind can make it difficult for bees to fly. Wind and rain reduce the flying time for the bees that they would normally use to harvest nectar.
This year we had a late spring and summer was cold and windy. The poor bees have really struggled with this as they can't get enough nectar from the flowers during the flowering season. The temperatures need to be high enough for the nectar to flow in the flowers for the bees to collect it and it has only been warm enough in the last couple of weeks. It will be interesting to taste this season's honeys, they could be quite different this year as the bees rush to get the last of the nectar from late flowering plants at the end of Summer.
Spring and Summer is generally a busy time for bees. If bees have the opportunity to make honey, in the form of access to nectar and accommodating weather, they will take it! So if one or both of these factors are reduced the resulting honey flow will reduce also - as has happened this season!