The honey bee calendar: seasonal honey.

The bees’ calendar and the beekeeper’s calendar are not the same as the one in Outlook or Google that displays all the holidays for you and the “year” by which we proceed through our daily routines. They are more responsive to temperatures, and hours of daylight–what’s really going on in nature.  They are awaiting the spring nectar flow to increase the population of the hive and to store honey.  Or the fall nectar flow to store food for the winter months.

In summer when we are enjoying a surfeit of fruits and vegetables (because of the bees’ pollen and nectar gathering in the spring) we have to realize that about that time there is a declining flow of nectar–fewer things are blooming. Life can be hard for bees in July. A nectar dearth means less food for them, so depending on forage region, we may be feeding bees while enjoying plenty of fruits and vegetables.  The bees will be waiting for the fall nectar flow–in my forage region (Appalachian-Ozark Upland) that’s primarily asters and goldenrod.

This seasonal variation is one of the delights of honey and beekeeping. The photograph at the top of the page shows the difference between spring/summer honey (left) and autumn honey (right). It’s seasonal flavor when honey is not blended. In this forage region, as an urban beekeeper, I have “wildflower” honey since my bees don’t have access to a large monofloral flow. I can’t produce varietal honey such as sourwood or alfalfa honey, or even clover honey, but I do have seasonal honey.


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