Bee Keeping in Northeast America

The severe winters

Short summers, and hilly or mountainous nature of the Northeast produce a variety of plants, but none which serves as a major source of nectar. However, alfalfa is becoming an important source of nectar in certain areas as new and better varieties are developed. Nectar from white clover, basswood, black locust, birds foot trefoil, various berries, and wild flowers contribute to producing a mixture of honey, much of which is sold locally to residents acquainted with the type produced, and some of the highest prices for honey are obtained here.

Commercial beekeepers

Operation of commercial bee keepers in the Northeast. Average honey production per colony is only 13.3 kg (29 lb), but occasionally locations where alfalfa is grown produce much higher averages. An estimated 175,000 colonies are in this region. The colonies are seldom moved, except the few belonging to commercial or semi commercial beekeepers who may rent their bees for pollination of blueberries, cranberries, other fruits, or cucumbers. Many commercial beekeepers now remove most of the honey, and each hive is reduced to a two-story brood nest that is trucked to the Southeast where it is allowed to build up and be divided to form new colonies.

Spring for fruit pollination

The hives are returned to the Northeast in the spring for fruit pollination before the main honey flow. Colonies that are not moved South are located where there are good air drainage, protection from cold winds, and exposure to as much winter sun as possible. For additional protection from cold winters, many colonies are "packed" that is, wrapped with insulation and tar paper, leaving only the entrance exposed. Winter loss is usually high and is replaced with package bees and queens purchased from southern beekeepers.

Bee Keeping in Summer

Shade in summer is unnecessary. Most beekeepers overwinter their colonies in two- or three-story, 10-frame standard Lang stroth hives. Two basic types of hive covers and bottom boards in use are the telescope cover and reversible bottom board, and the California-style top and bottom.

Bee's Collecting Water

 Migration of Bee's

The telescope covers create problems when hives are moved because the hives do not fit closely together on a truck and break open when roped tightly in place.

Where migratory bee keeping is practiced, the California-style top and bottom are used as they permit better stacking of hives on a truck. When the honey flow starts. beekeepers add one or two deep supers for surplus honey storage or one or two shallow supers for section or comb honey production.

North-Central Region

The bulk of the honey from the north-central region comes from alfalfa, soybeans, sweetclovers (yellow and white), and the true clovers (alsike, ladino, red, and white), with minor surpluses from basswood, black locust, and raspberry. All of this is high-quality honey.

Alfalfa and clover are the predominant American honeys. Less desirable grades come from aster, goldenrod, and smart weed. The variety of other plants, however, ensures something for the bees to work on from spring until frost. The bulk of comb honey produced by bees in 1-pound sections comes from this region. There are approximately 918,000 colonies, many of which belong to commercial beekeepers. Average production of surplus honey per colony is 24 kg (521b). Some colonies are killed in the fall, and the equipment is stored; then the hives are restocked in the spring with packages of bees and a queen purchased from southern beekeepers.

Other colonies are wrapped with insulation and tar paper for winter protection. Some are left with ample stores of honey and pollen in locations protected from wind and exposed to warming sunlight. Still others have most of the honey removed, and the hives are reduced to two-story brood nests that are trucked to the South, where they are allowed to build up and be divided to form new colonies. These are then returned to the North in the spring. Midsummer shade is beneficial. Migratory beekeeping is increasing as beekeepers move their colonies from one location to another to take advantage of the various nectar flows. Some colonies are rented for pollination of fruits, legumes, and cucumbers. 

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