July is sliding quietly into southern Alberta and so far it’s starting damp and cool. Until now the heat and humidity had been a boon to flowers and honeybees so we sure hope that this is a minor dip on the curve to a being a great year for honey. In the meantime it’s also a good opportunity to try something different, so you and the family might want to take in our Bee Basics program and get answers for all your burning bee questions. Especially if you’ve got a great garden that needs pollinator attention!
The cool weather keeps the honeybees home, huddling in their hives to stay warm. New research on honeybee over wintering is proposing that bees can stay healthier if they are moved north for the winter! How does that make sense?
The options for the large US commercial beekeepers who supply bees to the California almond orchards, are to move the bees south or north. In the south there is often limited nectar and pollen sources, possible drought and a higher incidence of mite infestations. These bees are often weak and malnourished by the time they’re needed in CA in February. The more natural winter climate for bees is cooler weather where the bees cluster inside, move relatively little and thus don’t require extensive food stores or mite controls. To take that a step further, more beekeepers are moving their small charges into large cooling warehouses in the northern states as early as October. An added benefit is that the northern queens start laying earlier and the hives are much healthier by the time they reach the sunny skies of California. Also expenses are slightly less for the cold storage option.
So in light of COVID and the way it spread rapidly into Canada from warmer climates, perhaps we should take note and stay healthier by enjoying our chilly winters at home!