In the next month or so my honey bees will decide to call it a year and retreat into their hive until better weather returns. And even though I don’t have much left to do to help them get ready for winter this year, my responsibilities are far from over. You see, winter is the time to plan and get things ready for next year. And when it comes to honey bees there is always something more that you can do for them the next year.
A Focus On ForageThis is particularly true when it comes to feeding them. Now, most experienced beekeepers will agree with this and turn to look at their sugar bin. But what I first turn to is the flower garden and orchard. If those two areas are in shape over a farm or neighborhood it is possible to improve the quality and quantity of honey bee food as well as the health of all the bees in the area. This includes many of the hardworking native bees as well.
As with all design, this begins with a step-by-step process and ends with a variety of different possible solutions. Let’s take a look at the steps:
Overlapping Bloom Times to Fill in DearthsIf these patterns are more or less what you are seeing, you have an area much like mine that is dryer in the late summer than the spring and the flowers follow accordingly. This means the major dearth or flower famine in the year is when it is hottest with some of the longest days. Whatever the pattern, the growing periods where there is any white are the most important to find bee feeding flowers for. Finding what flowers work best in your area is always a long study in horticulture, but a great place to start are our regional bee mixes. Each mix was created with the needs of your region in mind, and will work well as a core planting as you find new sources of plant nectar over the coming years.
I will have more about garden and bee planting through the winter, so stay tuned so we can help you make the best improvements on your property.