Hi everyone, fairly new beek here (only 3 years experience). I’m pretty airheaded and haven’t paid much attention to when our local flows tend to occur. I’ve been focused mostly just on the colonies themselves. I absolutely love my bees and producing harvestable honey was more of an afterthought. Now that I’m starting to pay more attention to and put more effort into producing a honey crop to harvest I’m trying to figure out what the typical flow seasons look like in Billings, Montana. I’m watching my bees and researching local plants to figure it out but hearing from other locals about when they usually start supering and harvesting will help me out.
Hi Adrias & welcome to the forum. I’m thinking that you’d be better off if you would be able to join a local bee club, that’s if there’s one near you. You’d get those questions answered there. Failing that, just keep a diary of what happens this season, so that you’ll know what to expect next season.
Hi and welcome to the Flow forum!
I agree with @JeffH, for the most accurate information on nectar flow, joining a local club would be best. I don’t recall a lot of activity from forum members in Montana over the last few years, although I think we do have a couple of them.
Having said that, it may help you to know that in much of the United States, the main nectar flow for the year is over by Independence Day (July 4th). In other words, if you are considering adding a super now for a honey harvest, you may not get much. There will be some exceptions with later flowering forage such as blackberry. Here in California, we sometimes get a small flow from eucalyptus in December, but you won’t have that in Montana…
After the summer solstice, the bees start winter preparations. They begin to restrict the queen’s laying pattern and backfill the brood nest with honey stores for the winter. Now is the time to do varroa mite counts, treat for mites and get a mouse guard to install in a couple of months.
I hope that helps a bit, even if it isn’t really local knowledge. Please ask if we can help with any general beekeeping questions.
Thanks for the responses! I’ll definitely look up our association and send them an email. Shoulda thought of that myself! I’m mostly inquiring about the information for next year. I might try to take a very small bit of honey for myself this year but I’ve been most concerned with letting my bees build themselves up and making splits this year as usual. I’m just now starting to think about making honey for harvest, and will try for a nice harvest next year. Definitely time for mite washes though! I’ll be getting those done over this week.
Do any of you have much experience using the Apimaye Hives? This is my first year using a couple and I’m excited to see how well they overwinter
I don’t, but I have heard really good things about them, especially in a climate like yours. Please keep in touch, I am very curious to hear how things go for you!
Hi again & you’re welcome. I have a tip for taking small amounts of honey, in case you don’t already do this. You can hold a frame (minus bees) above a strainer, then scrape the honey away from the foundation with a spoon, being careful not to break past the foundation, assuming it’s wax foundation. Plastic foundation would be no problem. Try to reduce the amount of drips going back into the hive. The bees rebuild into the gaps beautifully.
I do this with jellybush honey that wont spin out. I also do it with brood frames when the bees have built the honey out too far for my liking.