Honey harvest 2015
Finally I’ve extracted the honey from the hives. A good six weeks later than last year but finally it is done. Despite having an extra hive this year and hives that did not swarm thanks to my swarm management strategies I’ve extracted less than last year too :(
So why so much later this year? And why so much less?
The largest influence on honey production is most definitely the weather. This is most unfortunate considering the Jekyll & Hyde personality of the English weather, up one minute and definitely down the next! The wet and windy weather that we have experienced during the summer months, traditionally when the main nectar flow is upon us has affected the bees’ ability to forage and therefore their production. Nationally the honey harvest is thought to be down about one third, the North West being the worst affected and in Scotland the situation is deemed dire!
The long wet summer also affects the bees’ ability to build themselves into a large thriving colonies, in turn affecting their foraging of the later crops such as heather as well as the amount of heather actually available for them to forage on. Sources suggest English Heather Honey will be down by 50% this year, and as demand outstrips supply the price will inevitably increase.
The long term consequences for the bees are that they are going into the winter relatively weak and potentially with a low level of stores to see them through the winter, increasing the chance of winter losses and therefore potentially impacting on next year’s crop if colony numbers are down at the beginning of the season.
Forecasters are predicting an Indian Summer for the UK over the next few weeks with temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celsius. Lovely for us but since the main nectar flow is now finished, most beekeepers have removed any surplus honey from the hives and the bees are getting ready to enter winter so it is a tad late to be of any benefit to them. Thus a late spell of British sunshine and warmth unfortunately will not undo the impact of our Great British wet summer!