By: Chari Elam
Honey Production! What you put in it, is typically what you'll get out of it!
It never ceases to amaze me that these tiny little bugs can amass such a gorgeous honey crop each year! Year after year…
But wait – you aren’t getting a massive honey crop? Do you ever wonder why? It could be several things actually.
- Area – Your forage area doesn’t provide good nectar sources for your bees * * *
- Weather – Maybe your area is one that has been hard hit with drought or the opposite – too much rain
- Varroa mites – Wait … what?! Yes, unfortunately a high mite load can cause bees to simply be too sick to forage (deformed wing virus.) Or, it’s affected the population to the point where there’s simply not enough bees to provide a surplus crop of honey.
- Management skills – Ooh… that one stings (pun intended.) As a beekeeper grows in their ability to manage bees “well,” they often find honey production is one of the first rewards.
Let’s elaborate on that…
We can’t control the weather, and most often can’t control the area where our bees forage. But we can control Varroa mites and management skills!
I won’t make this article a long dissertation on Varroa (that’ll be next month – ha-ha), but I will say: If you go into honey production time with a high mite load, you sealed your fate.
First and foremost, our duty as bee ‘keepers’ is to manage our bees (animal husbandry.) In doing so, pest management is 3rd on the list of beekeeper duties. Have you seen the list? My list anyway...
- Housing – hive boxes in good order, maintaining a safe, dry environment for our bees.
- Nutrition – keeping our bees fed when nature or their circumstances require us to. help.
- Pest management – controlling Varroa and other pests and diseases.
Put those all together and that’s hive management!
Years ago, I did a summary article on Honey Bee Health Coalition’s “Best Management Practices for Hive Health” (BMP)
It was a l-o-n-g article. I might as well have published the guide itself (82 pg.) Take a big sigh of relief – I’m sparing you that today! I will however entice you to read it! It is truly your “responsibility” guide in detail. List of topics:
- Preparation and Personal Safety
- Apiary and Hive Maintenance
- Minimizing Risk from Pesticides
- Integrated Pest Management and Varroa Mites
- Other Pest and Diseases
- Queen Health, New Colonies, and Honey Bee Breeding
- Honey Bee Nutrition
If that doesn’t cover it “all,” I don’t know what will! Please take the time to download and read this publication. You and your bees will benefit from it!
The last point I want to make is, something I read in a comment online that really rang a bell in my head, “Decisions have consequences.” When you think about it, the opposite is true as well. Indecision has consequences too!
This brings us full circle back to the beginning of this article – honey production. Honey production can be directly related to a decision or the lack thereof we made somewhere in the past with our bees. It could be a “good” decision and have “good” consequences (healthy bees, good honey crop,) or it could be a “bad” decision that yielded “bad” consequences (sick bees, no honey crop.)
In hindsight, I might would add a 4th point to our list of duties – Keep your enthusiasm up through your journey, even when you mess up! (We all have.)
Beekeeping is so much fun when we take the time to manage our colonies, ensuring they have the best possible chance of thriving while under our care. It truly is up to us… isn’t it?!