Floral Calendar and Bee Keeping

Floral Calendar and Bee Keeping

Seasonal weather impacts upon nectar and pollen resources, which in turn impact on the colony population (performance). Reduced food means that the queen lays less eggs and the population of the hive falls. Increased food means increased laying and the population increases. Since more bees means more food can be collected the colonies with small populations will emphasize brood rearing. It is important to understand how the bee colony changes throughout the year because the bee colony can be manipulated to produce more honey.

Conditions for bees can vary widely throughout the country and the management of the bees depends on where they are found. Nevertheless, when managing bees for honey production, the aim is to have the maximum colony population during the nectar flow. Provided the nectar flow is good and the weather conditions are right a good honey crop can be realized.

Answering the following questions will give you a good overview of the honey year and help you prepare for the honey flow:-

  • What are the plants and trees that bees use? 

  • When do they flower and for how long? 

  • When is the swarming seasons? 

  • Which trees or plants give the best honey? 

  • When the right is times of the year to expect honey and which are the signs of honey harvesting seasons?

  • What factors affect plant flowering? If the above information is recorded carefully as in table below, it is easy to look ahead and predict which plants will flower when.

The bees’ behavior is very sensitive to their environment. When there is plenty of food, bees make honey to eat later on when there is little food. The beekeeper shares in this stock of food.

Manipulating the colony to be at the peak strength at the right time is fundamental to good beekeeping. Good flying conditions (dry weather) for the bees are also important during the nectar flow to get maximum yields. Therefore all management practices are related to the bee colony cycle and understanding which stage the colony is in.

There are four seasons during a cycle and these may occur more than once in a year:

1. Dearth – not much nectar is being collected due to bad weather and poor forage.

2. Build-up – there are many bee forage plants and the weather is favorable the colony expands.

3. Honey flow – many plants provide nectar and flower at the same time 

4. Harvesting seasons - most plants have stopped flowering and honey is ready for harvesting.