Most of the honey that my hives produce would be classified as clover, wildflower or alfalfa. The only specialty honey I have access to is lavender. Each summer around the third week of June I load up fifty to sixty hives and move them to a nearby pasture just south of the lavender fields.
I have heard several different terms over the years such as “jerking honey” and “robbing the honey”. Call it what you will, pulling honey is the most labor intensive work you will do as a beekeeper. I know that some natural beekeepers are against the use of fume boards, but they are one of the most time effective methods of removing the bees from the honey super.
I had the truck loaded with empty supers and was headed for a full day of checking beehives. It had been three weeks since these hives had been last checked and the first round of supers had been put on. These were all locations that normally provide the hives with plenty of nectar each season, but with last years drought, the honey crop was a bust. My anxiety was running high during my drive to the out yards fearing a repeat of last years nectar dearth. As I visited bee yard after bee yard my fears soon left as I saw the beautiful glistening nectar dripping from the frames.
The following signs, listed below, can help determine if your hives are experiencing a nectar flow or dearth.
If I were to pick one part of beekeeping that I dislike most, I would say moving bees in the dark of night, by hand. You see, bees don’t fly when it’s dark, they crawl. They crawl all over your bee suit. And when the conditions are such they will sting the crap out you. I learned a terrible, yet valuable lesson about the temperament of ticked off bees many years ago when I was stung over fifty times one night moving hives.
Considering all the things you can do for the health of your hives nothing will help more than to place them in the ideal location. The perfect location will include a water source along with a variety of vegetation that gives the bees access to ample pollen and nectar. Since most beekeepers realize that no single location will provide the bees with year round blossoms, the next best choice is to chase the nectar by moving the hives to where it is available.