LOOKING FOR HONEY SOON!!! Shown is a jar of early season honey from two years ago. It is the beautiful, light, tasty honey that we get in Seattle if we harvest before mid-August. (After that we get tasty dark honey.) What flowers is it from? Big Leaf maple trees bloomed in mid-May. The bees were able to get out to forage during that time. The chestnut and then black locust trees bloomed after the maple. Right now the black locust is just finishing and the tulip poplars are starting to bloom as well as blackberry. Our Italian prune tree is loaded with fruit as are the raspberries so the bees were involved with back-yard fruit. The next anticipated bloom is linden sometimes called basswood or tilia trees. This is a non-native tree that is widely planted in Seattle as a street tree.
We have harvested our first honey from some hives on lower Queen Anne hill near SPU. We need to go around to all of our hives to check for honey stores to harvest. As of yet we have not had the weather or the time to do that. In addition to checking for honey when it warms up a little, we need to be ready to catch swarms. It has already been a banner swarm year for us and we expect more in the next week because of the blackberry. Bees like to swarm when they are at the beginning of a big nectar flow.
A few of our hives are not doing well but most are booming. Last night we removed a queen-less hive from a yard near Northgate and replaced it with a hive from our back yard. The Northgate hive must have a laying worker or an unmated queen because we saw eggs and brood but only drone (male) larva. (A worker bee sometimes can lay eggs but these eggs are unfertilized and will therefore develop into a drone or male bee.) We will combine those queen-less bees with a weak but queen-right hive that needs more bees to see if we can get one good hive. Probably both hives will die but they would die anyway and this gives them a chance.
I am learning about hive management through the school of experience. We have had a few hives end up queen-less this year because of swarming and not leaving a viable queen behind. Those hives, if we catch them while they are still full of workers, are better candidates for combining with another hive.