Updated: May 11
What does springtime mean for honeybees? What is happening in the beehive coming out of winter? What do bees do with all of that nectar and pollen from spring flowers?
SPRING FLOWERS BLOOMING
Coming out of winter, spring brings longer daylight. It also brings warmer temperatures and the average ground temperature increasing wakes up seeds left last fall. Those seeds start to warm up and start to grow mature into flowers. Examples of the earliest flowers you can expect to see at the end of winter and early spring: Crocus, Camelias, Snowdrops, Hyacinth, and Tulips. You will also notice flowering trees such as the Crab Apple, Several Varieties of Cherry Trees, Pear Trees, Plum Trees, Peach Trees and others. These are all vital sources for the honeybee in early spring. Each provides pollen, nectar or both that help the flowers get fertilized and the honeybees build up their colony numbers to make honey to survive the next winter.
INSIDE THE BEEHIVE
When spring approaches the beehive comes to life, the buzz on a warm early spring day is exciting. They start sending out foragers, the female worker bee that has completed all of the other jobs and ready for her last. Honeybees only live an average of 6-8 weeks and end up working themselves to death with wings that become tattered until they can't even fly. They are determined because they know that the survival of the colony depends on them. They spend every waking hour of daylight, when the temps are above 55 degrees, scouring for flowers.
The pollen collected in their protein source. The honeybees will bring it back to the hive, pack it in the cells of the honeycomb and let it ferment into something called beebread. This beebread is fed to larva to ensure a healthy future generation that will be ready to help the colony make honey.
Nectar is collected and stored in the honeycomb cells; the cells aren't closed until it turned into honey by way of the bees acting as a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the nectar. At a certain point the nectar will turn into honey and they will cap the cell until it needed to feed the colony. Spring honey is a collection of the widest variety of nectar and also has some pollen which makes it prized for those who suffer from allergies. It is also incredibly delicious and a natural sugar that heathier than sugar cane or artificial sweeteners. In the summer time, after spring has closed, beekeepers get to harvest some of the honey in exchange for the colony management services provided. This has been a mutual relationship that has existed for hundreds of years. The management has become ever more important as colonies have been dying in record numbers.
Did you know there are different varieties of honey? There are certain times of the year that can, if properly managed, the beehive can make an incredible and unique flavor of honey. Gourmet types of honey: Tupelo, Sourwood, Blueberry Blossom, Raspberry Blossom, Saw Palmetto, Galberry, just to name a few. Check out our other post about Infused Honey to learn even more ways honey can have amazing flavors.