Eliminating the summer dearth

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Bens-Bees, May 10, 2011.

  1. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Have any of you that have a bit of land ever tried eliminating the summer dearth using a combination of plants that give nectar during the dearth? I'm interrested in trying to eliminate the summer dearth in order to keep from having that break in the brood cycle so that the bees can keep building up over the summer so that they have a heck of a fall harvest and to enter the winter extra-heavy with both bees and food. My problem is that right now I don't have my own land to do that with, but the farm I have my bees on might be willing to allow me to sow some nectar giving plants over the summer on an acre or two... but before I even ask I want to know if others have had any success with that. I am thinking a combination of Evodia trees, A species of Veronica that blooms from June to November that the bees stay on the whole time... and of course, buckwheat sowed in weekly increments to give a continuous summer bloom.

    Of course, doing that, there won't be that break in the brood cycle to knock down the mite load either, so I'll have to watch them carefully and possibly even medicate for them if necessary, which is something I have yet to do and would prefer to avoid if possible but I am more interrested in seeing what can be accomplished by not having that break in the brood cycle as far as building up and getting a great fall flow and heavy hives in winter are concerned.

    Alternatively, I wonder if it's possible to accomplish the same goal using feeders and 1-to-1 syrup. Though I prefer the natural method, if I can't use a couple of the farmer's acres for that, I guess I would have to use feeders to try to accomplish the same goal.

    On a brighter note, the flow finally started where my bees are and they are all starting to build up a little better than they were a couple of weeks ago. There's still not the kind of explosive growth I'd like, but at least there was marked improvement in all but one hive (the one is queenless, never had a queen and failed to make one out of the first frame of eggs I gave them, so I gave them one more, if they fail this time they will get blown out because I can use the hive to get more productive bees).

    On the down side, I've been getting lots of swarm calls and haven't been able to take any of them because I'm out of frames and close to out of boxes anyway... by the time I build enough frames to fill the boxes I have, I'll need them for honey supers, then by the time I can build some more boxes and frames swarm season will be over... but I think that round of building I will make some deeps to rotate into each hive so the bees can draw out the frames and move into them before winter. Then next winter I'll build more deeps to have 2 layers of deeps and then I can use my mediums just for honey supers. It'll be a lot heavier, but if they build up better then it'll be worth it.
     
  2. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    My favorite (on a very small scale) is broccoli. Harvest until things start getting sparse... then let a few plants go to flower.
     

  3. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    hmm, I've never let broccoli go to bloom before. Can it be timed out well so that there's no break in the blooming over the summer dearth? By that I mean you can pretty well tell that buckwheat will bloom from the 4th to the 6th week, and be ready for plowing under/reseeding by the 8th week. Is broccoli the same?

    My only experience with broccoli was getting one plant out of 20 or so seeds planted, and that plant was overwhelmed and eaten by cabbage butterfly larva.
     
  4. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Cabbage worms are an issue. My garden is small, so hand-squishing, although disgusting, is effective. Not something I would attempt on a large field!

    After you harvest heads... or get busy and forget to harvest... you get a feel for how long it takes them to mature. I can't remember the dates. It does have to be a variety that creates lots of side-shoots, though.
     
  5. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    it would be very hard to eleminate the summer dearth to many variable weather being the biggest one. Only way is to feed thru the summer when a dearth is on. But if you find away to makie nectar all summer long you are going to be a rich man if you can control who gets the information and at what price
     
  6. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Well, correct me if I am wrong in my thinking here, but doesn't buckwheat bloom for roughly two weeks starting around week 4? If so, then by staggering the planting of it in 1-week intervals should ensure that some is always blooming, right? Or does buckwheat even fail to give nectar during the dearth? If it does give nectar then all that would be required (and granted, this is no small task) would be to divide up the planting space into 10 equally sized lots. Then every week plant a new section of it until the last section is planted, then go back and till under the first section since it'll have gone to seed by then, then the next week till under the next section, etc... and the blooming will continue without a break, right? Granted, it'd likely take an acre or more of land to plant for each hive since only between 1/10th and 1/5th of the land would be in bloom at any given time, but for small-timers, maybe that's possible? I don't know, I'm just throwing out ideas here.

    I know Evodia Danelli is supposed to bloom during the death and give both pollen and nectar, but I don't know if the bloom lasts for the whole dearth or just a week or two. But I guess I'll find out in a couple of years when my seedlings grow up and bloom.