If you’re a beginning beekeeper who just got a package of bees this year you may be wondering if you’ll get any honey in your first year.  The answer isn’t easy to say.  Here’s some factors to consider when it comes to a first year honey harvest:

  1. What kind of weather have you had?  If you’ve had a year with lots of rain or perhaps a ton of heat (this likely sounds familiar in one way or the other to everyone this year) you may not get a good honey harvest.  Bees need time to build comb but once that’s done they need weather to fly.  Too rainy and cold means they’re stuck inside.  Too hot and they may spend too much time trying to cool the hive.  Either way extreme weather can really impact the bees ability to work and that will impact how much honey is in the hive.
  2. When did you get your package?  If you got your package later in the year again you may have missed some important nectar flows in your area.  For beekeepers in the Northwest this years packages arrived too late for the blackberry flow.  We missed out and for that reason it’s unlikely we’ll have too much extra honey this year.  If your area has a lot of different flows and good weather (see above) you might get lucky.
  3. Do you want to keep your bees alive overwinter?  We hope the answer is yes and yet some beekeepers steal all the honey from their bees, killing them every year.  Not only is this expensive (packages aren’t cheap) but it’s not a good practice with declining bee populations.  And it’s just plain mean.  If you want to keep your bees alive over the winter they will need decent stores of honey.  How much?  That again depends on your area.  Cold, long and/or wet winters means they’ll be trapped inside for longer and need more to live.  And while you can feed your bees sugar water doing so over winter can increase the amount of moisture in the hive, causing more problems for the bees (cold and wet is way worse than just cold by itself).

So while we all want honey from our hives it’s best to consider what would be best for your bees.  They will give you honey, but maybe not in your first year.

Does it look like you’ll get honey this year?  Let us know (and tell us where you are in the world!) by responding below!

Photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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