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Brett Kent

Rain sends bees indoors, not out mining flowers for nectar

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Welcome back to the Beehive. Here are a few more interesting bee facts. Then we will talk about the weather and what it is doing to the bees and lastly, I will mention another little incident, which happened since the last time I wrote. Oh, and for those of you that read the last column, the queen came back and she is laying eggs like a state fair blue ribbon champion.

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Here are a few more honeybee facts.

n Honeybees contribute over 14 billion dollars to the value of US crop production.

n More than 1 million colonies are used each year in California, just to pollinate the states almond crop.

n Honeybees are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.

n Beekeeping and honey collection dates back to the stone ages.

n Honeybees cluster inside the hive box, in the winter for warmth. The internal temperature of the cluster is approximately 90 degrees, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Ok, back to the current conditions. About 10 days ago, my lawn was showing signs of burning up from the lack of moisture, and then, oh my goodness. The floodgates opened and we got some much needed rain. Then we got some more rain, and some more rain. And did I mention we got some more rain. Now it rains every day. Now I hate to complain, but it would be ok, to go a day or two without a major rainstorm.

So, how does the rain affect the honeybees? Well, there is the good and the not so good. The good part is that the rain keeps everything green and blooming. Without that part, the next part would not matter. But, the not so good part is that the bees are unable to get out and work. Now if this is just for a day or two, it's not really a big deal. But, if it continues to rain every day, the rain washes the nectar and pollen out of the flower blossoms.

The bees stay in the hive and start eating their honey stores. The queen bee notices that there is no honey coming into the hive, and she suspends egg laying. So, in a nutshell, the hive kind of shuts down, until the bees are able to get out and find a food source.

That is what I am seeing my hives this week. In the southern part of the state, they are predicting the honey harvest will be reduced by one third so far.

So, last week one evening, about an hour before dark, I was mowing my yard, when Brenda came and told me that Roger Aukes had called and said there was a bear in the hives at his house. I called Roger back and asked if the bear was gone. Roger said that he had tried to chase the bear off, but it had climbed a tree next to the hives. While talking to Roger, he said, "Oh, I have to get back, the bear is coming back down from the tree."

At that point, I was thinking I needed Roger to put the bear in a headlock and make him promise to never come back. But, Roger was backing up, so I didn't even ask. Lol

So, Ryan, my son, jumped in the pickup and went out there. I was expecting the worst, but when we arrived, things looked untouched. I had been out to these hives about an hour before Roger had called and was doing some weekly hive inspections. I had inadvertently left a frame of honey leaning up against one of the hives. The bear had found that frame and was eating it when Roger and Gina noticed the bear. So, Ryan and I loaded up the hives and moved them to a new location. We may return to the Aukes, with an electric fence and then move the hives back if time allows.

That's what's going on in the beehive. If you have any questions, you may contact me at ssmith@parkrapidsenter prise.com. As always, thanks for your interest.

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