Much to our dismay, Western North Carolina had an abnormally wet and cold 2020 spring. The cold and rainy weather combined with a late frost in March placed the bees in distress. Even with each colony storing 50lbs of 2019 honey, many of the hives began to starve in our Panthertown apiary and had to be fed. The abundance of spring rain and subsequent flooding at lower elevations blew out nectar and pollen sources for the bees. The late March frost killed off buds of several high nectar producing trees including tulip poplar; a major honey source for our hive girls.
Because we live in the forest and don't move our hives, the bees are dependent on limited flora sources. But unlike the flooding of 2017, our hive girls this year have collected 50lbs of honey of their own —we insist that our bees keep their first full super of honey. Many beekeepers in the area will harvest all the honey from their bees and let them starve out in the winter, then purchase more hives the following March. This is not only unsustainable, but unethical and immoral. Our girls get to keep their first 50 pounds of honey. We then harvest the surplus.
Because spring was so late, many of the surviving flowers such as clover, black gum, sumac, persimmon and other nectar sources flowered weeks behind schedule. Sometimes up to three weeks later than normal. Many nectaring blooms overlapped, causing some pretty interesting honey.
We try to harvest our spring wildflower honey towards the end of June. Currently, most of the spring honey supers are still on the hives, but are nearly fully capped. We intend on spinning them out this week. We were able to collect several full supers a fortnight ago and harvested them for our ongoing tours. We sent a sample from this initial batch to SweetWater Science Labs for analysis and hope to have the results within the coming week. We will post the results in their entirety on our websites honey page and make notifications via FaceBook and Instagram.
The sourwood is currently blooming albeit two to three weeks late. Unfortunately, it is blooming with basswood which has also decided to bloom much later than normal. Our bees are combining this sourwood and basswood into the uncapped honey supers of their hives. This too should make for a very interesting late summer harvest. We just hope the bees can get out between storms to harvest it all.
The attached photo shows a rain rate that has become all too typical for 2020.