Honey harvest 2014

It’s that time of year again.  Each year around tax day, I add honey supers to my hives. It’s no exact science, but I like to keep honey supers on my hives from, roughly, Tax day to Independence day. The bulk of the Spring and Summer blooms occur during that time period so my bees get an opportunity to work the best blooms and store away honey. Usually this process works well and I harvest several hundred pounds of honey. I see some variance as you might expect…some years I get 200 pounds, some years I get 500+ pounds…either way, a good bit of honey

Trying not to overheat!
Trying not to overheat!

I harvested the honey last weekend with high expectations as the grass around me was green and trees and things seemed healthy.  Unlike my friends elsewhere in the country, we have had a good deal of rain so things are growing well here in WV.  Imagine my surprise then when I cracked the first hive and found only a frame or two of capped honey.  I repeated this same scenario in hive after hive.  The bees seemed mostly in pretty good shape but I found very little honey.

One of the jars of honey this year
One of the jars of honey this year

A sudden mini-panic set over me as I closed up the last hive….something is wrong!  As I pondered it, my only conclusion is that our late frosts, cool spring and abundant rainfall came at the exact wrong time on my ridge top apiary and it left me with a poor honey crop.  As confirmation (I need this now…it hurts my heart you know…), none of my fruit trees bore a single piece of fruit.  My sorghum crop flopped.  In general, it was just bad I think.  As I mentioned, the bees look good so I have to blame it on the weather.  That line of thought settled me down.  I was so frustrated though, that I barely took any pics of the harvest this year.  Instead, please enjoy this picture of my cat…the internet loves cats, right?

My cat

We processed the honey and all-told, we got around 60 pounds of honey. That’s 10-20% of normal so you can see the problem here. Unfortunately, that means I am already sold out of this year’s honey crop. Not a great way to pay for hive repairs or new queens. Alas, that is the life of a beekeeper I suppose…

Marbled Orb Weaver spider around the hive
Marbled Orb Weaver spider around the hive

The only other thing that is noteworthy is this cool Marbled Orb Weaver spider I found outside one of the hives.  He was a pretty thing.  I tend not to mess with stuff around the hive.  I figure everything has a purpose…well, except mosquitoes and ticks…those things just suck.  Anyhow, a pretty spider always goes a long way to brighten my day too!  Next year, we’ll hope my new spider friend brings me good luck and a better harvest!

Other beekeeping stuff

7 thoughts on “Honey harvest 2014

  1. Sorry to hear about your poor honey harvest, better luck next year. Your cat has a lean and hungry look. And that spider is just amazing, very cool colors.

  2. Late frosts are hard on honey production but so is wet springs and summers. Bees like sunny days for doing their jobs. I can’t say I blame them. Hopefully you will have a better fall crop. Here in Iowa, our fall crop was always two or three times more than our spring crop. Much of the fall crop was made from goldenrod. Taste wise, I always preferred the spring white clover honey.

  3. Oh Warren, how terribly, terribly disappointing! Worse, you still had to get out, use and then clean all your harvesting equipment.
    Question—since the amount of honey was so low, do you leave any for the bees to eat this winter?

  4. They had some honey in the brood nest so that was good news and is typical. Fall goldenrod comes in now and over the next few weeks so they should have plenty for winter. I will monitor and add sugar if needed…I usually give them some meds in fall with sugar water so it’s not a big deal if I need to add a little extra

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