The first week of December and finally some warm weather and no wind and/or rain! After what looked to be a promising start in September, October and November has been very tough on the bees. The cooler temperatures and unsettled weather have made it difficult for new queens to mate and new colonies have struggled to make headway. There was a significant dearth of nectar through November which saw honey stores disappear as the large quantities of brood take a lot of feeding!
In the last week I'm starting to see honey come into the hives and the bees are looking much happier. However compared to last year when we had boxes of honey already, the hives are looking very light.
Our beehives are back at Ohui and the Manuka is flowering. The bees have built up strength reasonably well but we now need settled weather if we are to harvest any of this medal winning honey!
From excellent shape last report to dismal! There has been little flowering in the bush and the very cold weather (we are 300m up which makes a big difference) has taken its toll. There is some Rewarewa flowering but only half the strength of last year. The unseasonal weather may hold off the manuka flowering for a few extra weeks and this might allow us to gather a spring harvest early in the New Year.
We've been using our Horsham Downs site as a nursery to make splits and raise new hives for our new sites in Hamilton City. This has all been completed now and the remaining hives are busy collecting bee pollen for us! An amazing array of coloured pollen is coming in and I see that the bees are now collecting pollen from clover in the last week.
Four Brothers Reserve
We've shifted our beehives from the normal site at Four Brothers Reserve to a new one which is much more protected from the elements. After an initial shaky start, (when the bees started starving), we are now back on track and things are looking up with the nearby Kanuka starting to flower.
We have two sites on the Hakarimata range and one site is racing ahead while the other is struggling! Still the main flow is generally after Christmas for this site and while its dramatically down from last year, bees can fill hives with honey very quickly.
Hamilton City / Kirikiriroa
We have three sites, Taitua Arboretum, Hamilton Zoo, and Hamilton Gardens. The beehives have only just gone in as with this poor weather I was fairly cautious to try new sites and risk the bees starving. However, they are going great and already producing a surplus of honey. Such are the benefits of the city where there is such a huge variety from residential gardens, the gully system, river walkways, road reserves and the sites themselves. I dropped the zoo beehives into their site adjacent to the giraffe enclosure at 6:30am. It was very quiet and also a little surreal to see seven long necks towering above the foliage and 14 large eyes staring at me stock still and watching my every move! That's a first in beekeeping for me!