This season I was anticipating a smaller honey crop due to my bees poor overwintering, but the lower temperatures and high number of cloudy or rainy days further reduced the honey harvest. This spring, rebuilding my honeybee colonies by making hive splits took time and resources away from the bees’ honey collection efforts. The overall effect of this is that my honey crop is about one quarter of what I would normally be able to harvest. This slow season has made me very thankful for last year’s bountiful crop!
My father-in-law, who grows a lot of vegetables, noticed that his transplants repeatedly died from damp-off and similar fungal diseases. Our soil and environment was fungal-dominated for most of the season (vs. the usual bacteria-dominant conditions for our region) and all farmers have had to deal with the effects of this. The bees had to deal with it too; they struggled with chalk-brood much longer in the spring and summer than usual. Even the swarms I caught and put in my top-bar hives experienced chalk-brood, and they started from scratch, building brand new wax comb in a brand new house. Only two of the top-bar hives were able to produce a little comb honey, so nature had many neat things to show me this year.
The strangest feeling over the summer was going through the regular work; splitting, supering, and inspecting hives, and then harvesting so little honey! In all industries and occupations I know there are similar seasons of maintenance or rebuilding. It is like holding the line until reinforcements or supplies arrive, or the sun comes out.
This season has taught us a lot and has helped us defragment and optimize many aspects of the business. Trim the excess, clean up the hive! One question I am pondering is how much our cool weather was affected by western wildfires? The ash and smoke in the skies has made beautiful sunsets, but also shielded the sun’s rays from warming us up here in Ontario. However, we did have a great summer… no honey crop to write home about, but neither did we suffer any fires or hurricanes. Some minor tornadoes and flooding was all we were dealt in Southern Ontario.