From National Honey Board April 2014
ALABAMA: April weather in Alabama, which has been rainy and cool at times, has delayed some honeybee activities by a couple of weeks. Colony buildup, swarming and nectar gathering have all been disrupted according to beekeepers. However, the last 10 days or so the weather has gotten somewhat consistent and an explosion of swarming has taken place. Many beekeepers are reporting way above normal swarming going on, leaving many colonies in transition or completely queenless. The buildup of pests has been affected by the weather also with reports of problems being minimal. European foulbrood has been reported in South and Central Alabama in a couple of locations, but nothing serious. SHB and varroa mites are not a problem yet in most bee yards. April is always a great month for foraging in Alabama, and now with moderating temps, the bees are in full nectar gathering mode. Many colonies may not produce as much honey due to the large amount of swarming that has occurred.
ARIZONA: Temperatures were above normal during most of the month of April in Arizona. The range of temperatures for the month were a high of 101 degrees Fahrenheit in Bullhead City to a low of 13 degrees Fahrenheit at Grand Canyon. During the four weeks in April, 7, 0, 8 and 11 of the 22 reporting stations received precipitation, respectively. For 2014 so far, all 22 reporting stations are below normal precipitation levels for the year. Most Arizona bee colonies have returned to the state after spending the past few months out of state for the purposes of pollinating fruit and nut trees elsewhere. Desert and plant bloom were the main sources for nectar and pollen in the state, with alfalfa also serving as a source. Melons are starting to become more available for pollination. Demand for honey remains good.
ARKANSAS: The weather in Western Arkansas has been much colder than normal. The nights have been cold warming up to mild during the day. We are slightly behind on rain and the days are turning from cool/warm to hot. Yesterday broke the record with a temperature of 91 degrees. Today the forecast is to be 90 or above. It looks like one of those seasons where we go from winter to summer. The whole spring has been about a month behind.
Russians, known to likely swarm were first noted swarming this year in late April. The cold nights may be responsible for the lateness of the swarm. With the afternoon highs being in the 80's to 90's with higher humidity, swarm season has started in earnest. The bees seem to be in good shape and are bring in copious amounts of pollen and nectar. Those not using pesticides try to find safer ways to treat the bees. Some use screened bottom boards with
oil traps along with some powder sugar dusting along with essential oils. Varroa has been spotted on sealed drone brood and that have been feeding with Honey B Healthy which contains lemon grass. SHB has not been seen yet but sure that they will come along when the weather heats up. Food sources are just now becoming available due to the very late spring this year. Most of the pollen seems to be coming from the trees. The bees seem to be bringing in less pollen and more nectar at this point. Overall the bees seem to be in good shape
CALIFORNIA: The beginning of the month wet weather moved across the State as a couple of moderately strong cold fronts pushed through the West coast. Significant rainfall fell across Northern California, and eventually brought scattered light rains all across the State. After the storms passed through the State, a high pressure ridge brought dry and warm conditions all across the state. Towards the end of the month, a series of Pacific frontal systems entered the State, bringing measurable rain and mountain snow to the north coast. The strongest of these storm systems brought measurable precipitation to the entire State, with significant amounts falling across the western Sierra Nevada Mountains. By months close, high pressure brought drying conditions and warmer temperatures all across California. Even with the spring storms, calendar year 2013 closed as the driest year in recorded history for many areas of California, and the severe drought is continuing this year. The final snow survey in the Sierra Nevada was taken on May 1st and the statewide snowpack was just 18% of average for the date. This compares to 32% as of April 1st. The situation in the northern section of the survey area was just 7% of normal. This is the 2nd lowest snowpack figure for May 1st (May 1, 1977 being the lowest on record). The state’s reservoirs are at critically low levels for this time of the year. In the Central Valley, bees were pollinating berries and late blooming stone fruit. Beehive removal started from almond and stone fruit orchards where bloom was complete. Apple trees bloomed. Where available, throughout the State, bees were feeding on wild mustard, rosemary, borage,
dandelions, oaks, apple trees and various wildflowers. On the Central Coast, swarming is in full swing. The colonies have built up well in spite of the limited forage. Making splits and shaking packages from these colonies does not deter the urge to swarm this year. Beekeepers are feeding some sugar syrup, but the pollen supply is adequate. The sage
plants are green but lack much flower growth. There will be no surplus honey from that source. Water for the bees is becoming a problem as most stock ponds have little or no water in them. In Southern California, the avocado bloom is just about over. For the last month and a half, the bees have been able to maintain themselves primarily on avocados and citrus blossoms. Both are over now, and it is obvious. The bees have stopped putting on any weight. There appears to be little additional nectar coming in. Beekeepers have just started feeding again, some syrup and pollen substitute, others syrup only. There is still some pollen
coming in, mainly from mustard, but this does not appear to be very far away from drying up. The sage blossom this year appears to be a failure, and overall, things are very dry. Most Southern California beekeepers will be moving their bees to irrigated alfalfa for seed pollination shortly. Most beekeepers are in a hurry to move to irrigated areas - mainly the Imperial Valley, to escape both the drought and aerial pesticide spraying of avocados,
which typically takes place as soon as the young fruit has been set. Beekeepers expect crowded conditions for bees in the irrigated areas, which is challenging to both the bees and the beekeepers.
COLORADO: Temperatures were warmer than normal across Colorado during April except in the Northwest part of the State. Precipitation was below normal across the State except for slightly higher amounts around Alamosa and Pueblo areas. Most of the southern part of the State remains very dry. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the North and Mid-Central part of the State remains near normal on precipitation. There continues to be severe to extreme drought conditions in the southeastern areas of Colorado. The Western and Northeast areas of the State continue to be abnormally dry. Generally the northern mountain areas of the State received and still have good snow pack as of the end of April. Southern river basins including the Upper Rio Grande, Arkansas, Gunnison, San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan were short on snowfall this season. So consequently snowpack and resulting runoff potential will be short and will have a negative effect on stream flow and the availability of water for irrigation during the upcoming summer months. Many commercial beekeepers had returned to Colorado by the end of April. Some will not make it back until late May or early June. According to beekeepers it was too early to tell yet if there were going to be very many spring losses. The bees that remain are looking healthy and are in good shape at this point. This spring many bees had not needed any additional supplemental feeding. At this point many of the commercial beekeepers in the State were relying on the colony honey store for maintenance of the bee colonies. It seems as though supplemental feeding varies from beekeeper to beekeeper depending on what works best for their operation and the associated cost expense factors.
During April, Colorado beekeepers continue to work over the bee colonies. This includes extensive dividing of colonies and re-queening when necessary. Dividing colonies in the spring of the year is a very important management technique to prevent swarming and at the same time increase the overall number of colonies for the beekeepers. Beekeepers also are utilizing this spring time lull to treat bees for the various health issues including varroa and to a lesser extent tracheal mites and nosema. For the most part these are preventative treatments. The mite population seems to be under control at this point of time in Colorado bees. Actually varroa mites up to this point of the spring have been down in numbers with compared to the past few years. Currently, retail demand for honey is very good in Colorado. Demand actually exceeds the wholesale level supply and will probably continue that way until the next crop of honey becomes available in mid-summer.
FLORIDA: April was probably a little cooler than average with about normal precipitation. Bee health was considered to be good. Citrus honey production was essentially finished by the middle of the month, with production generally considered to be much less than normal. The second half of the month saw gallberry and palmetto bloom beginning in the south and tupelo beginning in the Panhandle area. By the 10th of the month, some bees were being relocated for pollination purposes to various areas in Florida and also some Northern states including Ohio Pennsylvania, and Michigan. The crops being pollinated were primarily watermelons and cucumbers in Florida and blueberries and cranberries in the Northern states. Additional bees will be sent to more Northern states such as Maine by early next month for other pollination purposes. Demand was very good for the orange blossom honey
with fairly light supplies which were generally fully committed by late in the month. Gallberry, palmetto, and Tupelo honey production began late in the month.
GEORGIA: The bees are reported to be in very good shape throughout the state, despite the various challenges this winter and early spring. Vegetable, fruit and wildflowers are budding and flowering late, with some areas running a month behind normal. Most of the bees are still feeding off of stored honey or supplements previously put out until more blooms come on, which is expected very soon. Tulip Poplar, Wild cherry and blackberries are coming along in the northern areas and the Tupelo flow has started, but pushed back a few days due to a late deluge of rain, wind and tornado activity the end of the month. Beekeepers are still building back up the number of hives that were lost last year and are optimistic about this year.
IDAHO: Temperatures were slightly warmer than normal across the entire State of Idaho during the month of April. Precipitation was slightly below normal across the State with the exception of wetter conditions around Boise and Stanley areas. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme to severe drought conditions are present in the Southwestern and Central areas of the State. The Northern Panhandle area is near normal on moisture.
Good snowpack still exists in many upper elevations of Idaho at the end of April. All lower elevation areas do not have any measurable snow. The upper elevation snowpack, according to beekeepers, should provide an adequate amount of runoff for irrigation needs during the summer months of 2014. Idaho commercial beekeepers are now in position for the summer months with their bees in Idaho yards and other States including Montana and
North Dakota. Some foraging opportunities have started in the last part of April with a light flow of honey starting from dandelions. There were some bee losses again this spring, but overall according to Idaho beekeepers those losses have been lower this spring when compared to the past few years. The bees that remain are looking healthy and are in good shape at this point. This spring if the bees needed additional supplemental feeding, blends of corn syrup and sugar syrup were utilized by some. Other beekeepers utilize pollen patties or straight honey stores depending upon their needs. Some beekeepers utilized high fructose corn syrup. One beekeeper stated that he used high fructose corn syrup because it has a higher brix, so it is easier for the bees to put on extra weight. It seems as though supplemental feeding varies from beekeeper to beekeeper depending on what works best for their operation and the associated cost expense factors. During April, Idaho beekeepers continue to work over the bee colonies. This includes extensive dividing of colonies and re-queening when necessary. During the annual divides this spring, there were so many increases in the colonies that there were more bees available for divides than were needed. Dividing colonies in the spring of the year is a very important management technique to prevent swarming and at the same time increase the overall number of colonies for the beekeepers. Beekeepers also are utilizing this spring time lull to treat bees for the various health issues including varroa and to a lesser extent tracheal mites and nosema. For the most part these are preventative treatments. The mite population seems to be under control at this point of time in Idaho bees. Actually varroa mites, up to this point of the spring, have been down in numbers. Currently, retail demand for honey is very good in Idaho. Demand actually exceeds the wholesale level supply, and will probably continue that way until the next crop of honey becomes available in mid-summer.
ILLINOIS: The temperatures for the month of April for Illinois were more tolerable than last month with warmer temperatures ranging in the high 60s in the beginning of the month with a few day’s ranging in the high 70s and a few day’s as high as 80 degrees. Generally speaking during the middle and end of the month rain and cooler temperatures became quite prevalent for the state. A few Beekeepers report that they are now able to take inventory of their bee’s survival rate. A few beekeepers have reported a 50-80% loss of hives with a few reports of a total loss of their bees. Beekeepers report they have already received their packaged Bee’s from California and other areas. Beekeepers report some supplemental feeding with sugar boards as well as other methods due to cool mornings and nights. They also report the bees having ample cleansing flights as the weather permits. The beekeepers also report the bees feeding on dandelion and maple blossoms and spring trees for pollen. They also report their bees in good condition as they huddle together in their hives as the queen bee began to lay eggs for the multiplication of bee colonies. Beekeepers report a fairly good demand for honey at the retail level, but fairly slow at the wholesale level due to very little honey left over due to the long cold winter. Prices are generally unchanged.
IOWA, KANSAS, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA: Temperatures across the region varied from below to above normal, but mostly near normal. Unseasonable freezing temperatures and snowfall occurred. Precipitation was above normal, as plenty of rainfall fell. Many parts of the states received relief from dry conditions. Vegetation received minimum damage from the freeze; however, planting dates were pushed back. Beekeepers are reporting that orders of nucs and package bees have been received. Some breeders have not been able to deliver this season, due to the high demand and heavy winter loss. Many local breeders are delivering late this season. Beekeepers were very busy introducing package bees and queens to hives and supplemental feeding. There was some early swarming in the Ozarks in southern and southwestern Missouri. Some dandelion and tree pollen have been reported as floral sources. Many beekeepers expect high honey prices, due to heavy colony losses and bees shortages.
INDIANA: Temperatures for the month of April were fairly good during the beginning of the month as temperatures ranged in the high 50-60’s as well as a few days in the 70s and high as 80 degrees with normal moisture. By the middle and end of the month temperatures began to drop in low 50s with a few days in the 40s, but generally staying within the 50s by the end of the month. Most beekeepers report that they are busy taking inventory of their
packaged bees that were purchased from other states as the long cold winter added to the demise of several hives that didn’t survive this past winter. Beekeepers report that they are adding sugar boards to their hives for feeding as the temperatures at night and early morning are still quite cooler than normal. However, Beekeeper report that due to more tolerable weather their bees are able to have ample cleansing flights and feed on early spring trees,
such as maple blossoms, dandelion, etc. Beekeepers report their bees in good condition as they look forward to warmer weather and a higher population of bee hives. Demand for honey at the wholesale level is fairly slow but moderate to fairly good at the retail level. Prices are generally unchanged.
KENTUCKY: Kentucky has come out of a very difficult winter with April bringing typically glorious spring weather to the state, with average high temperatures ranging from the mid 60° up to around 70° with average lows falling into the 40° degrees range. The honey flow is about one week behind normal, so bee keepers are also anticipating swarming to be behind normal schedule as well.
LOUISIANA: Pollen and nectar sources received during April were from various trees and wild flowers. Colonies were in generally good condition. Weather has seen about normal temperatures with adequate rainfall. Supply is limited and demand remains high.
MICHIGAN: Beekeepers have been busy receiving record numbers of new package bees to replace severe overwintering losses of around 60% in some regions of the state. Due to the many extended days of sub-normal temperatures during the winter, some hives maintained supplemental food sources in the hive, although the bees were unable to break cluster and reach the sources due to the cold. Although nectar sources are well behind previous years’ flow, bees have brought some pollen back to the hive from willows, soft maples and a few wildflowers beginning in the lower half of the state on several occasions during the month. Cooler temperatures have slowed the build-up of colonies. Spring weather conditions have been slow to arrive in Southwestern Michigan; most tree fruit and blueberry pollination is expected to begin around May 15-20. According to one beekeeper, this period would be one of the latest bloom periods he can recall in the past 40 years. Bees that overwintered in Florida have had an abundance of natural pollen to feed on and appear in good health. Positive comments were also noted from bees returning from California almond pollination in excellent condition with abundant honey and pollen reserves. Demand for orange honey has been strong. Many local beekeepers have exhausted honey stocks, further driving demand and prices upward.
MINNESOTA: The temperatures in April continue the winter trend of cooler than normal across the entire State. As one beekeeper stated, “It is the spring that has not yet arrived.”
Precipitation was below normal across the entire State during the same period with the exception of slightly above precipitation around the Saint Paul area. Some ground cover of snow still lingers in the Northeast part of Minnesota in the Duluth area. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Northwest, Southwest and Central areas of the State are currently showing abnormal to moderate drought conditions. The rest of the State has normal moisture conditions. Most Minnesota commercial beekeepers are now in position for the summer months with their bees in Minnesota yards. There have not been many
foraging opportunities yet this early spring in Minnesota due to the cold weather conditions.
There were some bee losses again this spring. Overall, according to Minnesota beekeepers, those losses have been lower this spring when compared to the past few years. The bees that remain are looking healthy and are in good shape at this point. This spring if the bees needed additional supplemental feeding, blends of corn syrup and/or sugar syrup were utilized. It seems as though supplemental feeding varies from beekeeper to beekeeper depending on what works best for their operation and the associated cost expense factors.
During April, Minnesota beekeepers continue to work over the bee colonies. This includes extensive dividing of colonies and re-queening when necessary. Beekeepers also are utilizing this time to treat bees for the various health issues including varroa and to a lesser extent tracheal mites, nosema, and American foulbrood. For the most part these are preventative treatments. The mite population seems to be under control at this point of time in Minnesota bees. Actually mites up to this point of the spring have been down in numbers without any treatments at all. American foulbrood seems to be an increasing problem for Minnesota beekeepers. One beekeeper stated that the only way to get rid of this issue was with burning hives with fire. Currently, retail demand for honey is very good in Minnesota. Demand actually exceeds the wholesale level supply and will probably continue that way until the next crop of honey becomes available in mid-summer.
MISSISSIPPI: The extreme weather continued to cause problems throughout the state, but the beekeepers have been vigilant about protecting the bees and building back up the numbers for this year. Rain and tornado warnings the end of the month has put a damper on the hives as the bees are trying to get out and about and forage for food, nectar and pollen. A good spring mixture of wildflowers, White Dutch clover, Vetch, Yellow top, wild berries and blueberries have the beekeepers excited about the upcoming honey flow. The bees are reported to be in good shape heading into spring.
MONTANA: By the end of April, temperatures varied widely in Montana with highs in the mid-40s to the low 70s and lows in the single digits to the mid-30s. Topsoil moisture measurements at the end of April measured 15 percent very short, and short, compared to 31 percent last year; 75 percent adequate, compared to 64 percent last year; and 10 percent surplus, compared to 5 percent last year. Subsoil moisture measured 14percent short and very short, while 86 percent of subsoil moisture measurements were adequate or surplus. Bee keepers reported colonies to be in generally good condition with good mite prevention measures. During April, some migratory colonies were brought home to Montana from California while others were moved up the coast into Washington and Oregon orchards for the tree fruit and early berry pollination. In Montana, new packages were being set up with queens, while colonies where being staged away from flood plain areas. Supplement feeding was required.
NEW ENGLAND: New England weather for the month of April has been intermittently wet and cooler than in prior years. This weather pattern featured cooler, unstable temperatures with a mixture of some mild to warm days and some unseasonable warm days sporadically placed along the month. Temperatures were running 10 to 15 degrees below normal with many trees showing a late blooming cycle. This year’s spring has finally arrived, which is the exact opposite of last year, when New England experienced early warm weather patterns and swarming started at the end of March. All regions reported high moisture levels and this should help push earlier than normal ornamental and floral sources for pollen and nectar such as quaking aspen, alder, spice bush, sassafras, leather leaf, pin cherry, blueberry and many varieties of apple bloom especially crab apple. The late Easter and Passover Holidays coincided with the usual advent of regional pollen and nectar sources such as ground ivy (glechoma hederacea), chickweed (stellaria media), snow drop (chionadoxa luciliae), Siberian squill (scilla Siberica), American elm (ulmus Americana), jasmine, witch hazel, dandelions and willows such as goat, white, black and pussy (Salix discolor). March was cold and kept beekeepers from attending to overwintered colonies as there were many reports of March die-offs. April has been slow to warm up. Surviving colonies will need extra time to build before apple pollination and honey production commence. Bees are getting pollen and nectar when they can but it seems like it stays consistently cool. Bees need warmer temperatures to actively increase foraging. Cooler temperatures in higher
elevations have created a problem with chill brood whereby the queen’s activity has been restricted. Reportedly some keepers lost hives to a continuance of cooler weather, preventing bees from foraging and because there were no surplus honey stores. Additionally, nectar sources were not fully available. Nectar sources have been running unusually short after a cold winter and consequently, unchecked hives ran out of stores and starved to death. Hives will normally consume 1.2 lbs. ‘of honey per day with full colonies ranging from 40,000-50,000 bees. Northwestern New England shows mixed reports on losses of around 60%, mainly due to starvation or queen loss. Reportedly, winter losses were extremely high as a result of extended cold weather, low food reserves and the inability for bees to access honey even when it was ¼ inch away. Those hives that died were small in population going into the winter and probably lacked the critical mass to maintain the necessary temperature within the cluster. The second reason was starvation, especially in single colonies as they simply ran out of honey and mites were also a factor for those who did not treat in the late summer. In this region, bees reportedly came through winter somewhat weak in populations and winter losses were high. In Northern New England, wintered over colonies reportedly are now fairly static in brood rearing and there are problems with clusters remaining small. Surviving weak colonies have been combined and hive bodies are being rotated with most over wintered queens beginning to lie normally. 2014 will be a rebuilding year for most commercial apiaries in New England as they work to replace winter losses. Northern keepers will keep their entrance reducers in place until the end of May as cold snaps are quite common with changing New England weather. In Southern New England, colonies have rapidly strengthened. The weather started to cooperate by mid-April and bees started to forage in force. Queens have started to strongly lay with nucleus colonies. Reportedly all keepers are active in checking food sources weekly, are reversing hive bodies as fast as every two weeks to keep the brood in the bottom and will add a super before the bees get crowded. Queens are now laying larger patterns of brood; colonies are expanding brood
nests and bringing in good amounts of pollen and nectar when they are not experiencing cold weather. Feeding is always very heavy and important to monitor for this time of year. Beekeepers continue to administer pollen supports and supplemental feedings on a need basis and will make sure that syrup 1:1 is available on the hive until combs are drawn out. In regard to established colonies, seasoned keepers try to make sure that they have ample room to expand and that honey supers are timely ready or already in place, since the queen has already been laying usually at a rate of 1500 eggs a day, hence making sure that there is enough food for the new brood. We will soon have many new pollen and especially nectar sources as fruit pollination begins in a few weeks and with the advent of many new wild flowers. Additionally, honeysuckle and black locust will soon give a good push to the honey flow.
Georgia package bee producers reportedly have been on schedule with deliveries and producers are having a good season. Since most New England keepers are dependent upon southern suppliers, there was a serious growing concern that many keepers would not receive their bees however; it looks like many keepers will be receiving their packages on time. Overall in New England and especially in Massachusetts, demand for startup and
replacement bees has been strong. Massachusetts State bee inspectors report up to 50% or more of hive winter losses. Keepers that have recently received package bees/nucs or are about to, are just setting up in anticipation and are hopeful for a strong summer production season. pesticides, varroa mites and viruses contributed to many hives losses as we saw too many hives that should have survived, just not make it successfully into this spring.
NEW YORK: In the Catskills, bee losses have been reported of nearly 50% over the long, cold winter. Spring weather has been slow to arrive, with beekeepers unable to make any splits, thus slowing colony expansion. Limited sources of pollen include alder, willow and in some places soft maple. Nearby in the Hudson Valley, the season has progressed at a faster pace. Local beekeepers have some raw honey from $7.50-8.50 pound retail with light
supplies available. The Finger Lakes region anxiously awaits the arrival of dandelions, which are the first big pollen and nectar sources for the region. Ground water levels are higher than in the part 5-10 years, so beekeepers are hopeful for a good spring flow, and warmer temperatures. In Western and Central New York, cool temperatures have delayed apple bloom until mid-May. Bee losses averaged 50-60% due to bees being weakened by poor nectar sources and probable pesticide exposure going back to the fall months, which left hives in survival mode rather than overwintering preparation. Beekeepers are preparing hives that overwintered in Florida for return to the North. Some hives are struggling to move forward after locating to California for almond pollination, while others appear in good health with brood expansion active. The orange honey crop was disappointing as cool,
rainy weather set in during the last 10-14 days of bloom.
NORTH CAROLINA: Temperatures in North Carolina varied throughout April ranging from below normal to above normal. Precipitation was mostly normal to above normal. Statewide soil moisture levels averaged 5 percent short, 2.5 percent adequate, and 22.5 percent surplus the week ending April 26. The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council reported one county as being abnormally dry. Beekeepers worked on inspecting hives for disease and pest issues; fortunately, no widespread issues were reported. They also continued to monitor hives for swarming and installed packaged bees. According to apiary inspectors, unseasonably cold, wet weather in other states, especially Georgia where many beekeepers buy their supplies, and heavy winter losses have resulted in a very light supply of replacement bees and, therefore, demand for packages exceeds supplies. Sumac became an available nectar source across the State. In the Piedmont region Dandelion, Clover (Alsike, Crimson, and Ladino white clover), Blackberry, Tulip Poplar, Black Gum, Black Locust, Vetch, Holly, and Raspberry began to bloom around mid to late April. Dandelion, Blackberry, Tulip Poplar, Black Gum, Holly, Raspberry, Huckleberry, and Tupelo Gum began blooming in the Coastal Plains region. Unfortunately, there may not
be enough bees to utilize this season’s abundant nectar flow. With late starts and small hives a surplus of honey is unlikely. As a result, supplies of honey are expected to remain light and the price will likely remain at a premium. Commercial pollinator hives were back in North Carolina for blueberry pollination and by the end of the month began preparing to move up the East Coast to New Jersey, and later Maine, for blueberry pollination in those states.
NORTH & SOUTH DAKOTA: Temperatures later in the month were above average with some showers. Planting of most crops was active and about the same as or slightly ahead of last year but still behind normal due to colder weather earlier in the spring. Bees are continuing to work their way back home as the weather permits and pollination of alternative crops in their over winter locations comes to an end. Pastures were greening up by the end of the month.
OHIO: A cool, wet month has slowed beekeeper activity and packages have been late to arrive. Supplemental feeding has continued along with limited pollen access in maples earlier in the month and willows at the end of the month. Many beekeepers anticipate losses from 50-60% from overwintering. Local honey prices continue to climb as much as 20% to help defray replacement bee and feeding costs.
OKLAHOMA: Pollen and nectar sources received during April for Oklahoma were wild flowers, and fruit trees. Saw swarms were seen earlier this year in the first week of April. Bees are strong and building when water sources are available. Weather has been all over the board with very warm to near freezing, with little rainfall. Supply is limited while demand remains high.
OREGON: In April the weather was mostly cool with periods of warmer temperatures. Average amounts of precipitation fell across Oregon during the month. By month’s end, topsoil moisture measurements measured 5 percent very short, 26 percent short, 60 percent adequate, and 9 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture measurements measured 37 percent short and very short, while 63 percent of subsoil moisture measurements were adequate or surplus. During April colony health was said to be generally good. Keepers were busy with their spring chores at home while at the same time trucking home any migratory colonies remaining in California. These returning colonies joined those already in the field in southwestern Oregon, the Willamette river valley, the Hood River area, and the Columbia Basin for the tree fruit and early berry pollination seasons. Orchardists were concerned of cool weather and wind inhibiting tree fruit pollination, while frost protection measures were used in some areas to protect the fruit blossoms. Wild plants such as willows, brush, dandelions, and choke cherries were early sources of pollen and nectar in for the bees. Honey demand was good.
SOUTH CAROLINA: No report issued.
TENNESSEE: Winter and spring losses in Tennessee were high. Some of the losses can be attributed to queen failure during the winter and early spring. Last year the weather was not conducive to properly mating queens. The nectar flow is in full swing across the State. Black Locust, Tulip Poplar and Clover are producing a lot of nectar. Due to the heavy loses, over-winter package bees and nucs are in short supply. TEXAS: Pollen and nectar sources received during April for Southern Texas were Yaupon and various flowering spring shrubs, red clover and wild flowers along with very light supplemental feeding. Colonies are in good condition. Bees are active and behaving normally. Weather has been up and down – cool and dry. Honey flows seem to be normal. Local beekeepers received $10.00 per pound. Many bee keepers are sold out. Tallow trees are expected to be slow to bloom but has been noted that bees like asparagus blooms. There were no known rented bees. In Northern Texas the bees are hard at work making honey. There wasn't much rain this spring, although the weather has stayed relatively cool, and so far the nectar continues to flow. Some bee keepers in Dallas feel they are sheltered because yards and gardens are watered despite the rainfall deficit, so bees sometimes make a good crop even when the weather argues against it. And the bees themselves are well positioned to produce, after a strong build-up early this year. There are no major signs of pests, and even the hive beetle population in some hives seems to be off from last year. Overall, there continues to be hope that there will make a good honey crop this year. The privet hedges should blossom in the next few weeks, and the strength of this nectar flow usually determines how much honey we get from the July harvest. Time will tell.
UTAH: Temperatures were much warmer than normal across the entire State of Utah during the month of April. This has become a trend during the last three months. Precipitation was also below normal across the State during the same period. Statewide snowpack as of the end of April was 70 percent of normal. In the Bear River area of Northern and Northeast Utah, snowpack averaged 108 percent of normal. In the Southern parts of Utah snowpack
ranged from 5 to 16 percent of normal. Right now it appears that there will be adequate snowpack in northern areas to take care the needs of irrigation for alfalfa fields. Southern areas of the State may be short until additional precipitation falls in the form of rain.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor in April, the Northeast part of the State was indicating normal moisture conditions. The rest of the State has drought conditions that ranged from abnormally dry to severe. The beekeepers who have returned to Utah are busy with many foraging opportunities for their bees. During the last part of April beekeepers were actively providing pollination services to the fruit industry in Utah. Beekeepers also indicated that they were obtaining a good and heavy honey flow from dandelions. According to beekeepers, yellow clover and alfalfa should be available as foraging crops within the next month. Some beekeepers will not return to Utah from their stay in California until the second half of May. There were some bee losses again this spring as the result of misapplication of fungicides during the latter part of almond pollination period in California. Losses to Utah bees ranged up to 30 percent or more. One beekeeper added that another 50 percent did not look good as a result of their stay in California. It just really depended upon placement of colonies as to whether any particular beekeepers were hit with losses resulting from improper spraying of various fungicides on the almond trees. This spring if the bees needed additional supplemental feeding, blends of corn syrup and sugar syrup were utilized by some. Others utilized straight sugar syrup. It seems as though supplemental feeding varies from beekeeper to beekeeper depending on what works best for their operation and the
associated cost expense factors. During April, Utah beekeepers continue to work over the bee colonies. This includes extensive dividing of colonies and re-queening when
necessary. Beekeepers also are utilizing this time to treat bees for the various health issues including varroa and to a lesser extent tracheal mites, nosema, and American foulbrood. For the most part these are preventative treatments. The mite population seems to be under control at this point of time in Utah bees. Actually mites up to this point of the spring have been down in numbers without any treatments at all. American foulbrood seems to
be an increasing problem for Utah beekeepers. One beekeeper stated that the only way to get rid of this issue was with burning hives with fire. Currently, wholesale and retail demand for honey in Utah exceeds the supply. Beekeepers are anticipating stable or higher prices The weather has been mixed during spring bloom. A few days of moderate, sunny weather followed by a few days of rainfall, sometimes heavy has left mixed results for the bees. Lack of pollen returning to some hives has been reported. The bloom for tree fruit started earlier than the last 2 years and moved fairly rapidly once it started. Losses around the state have been mixed with some showing light losses but many reporting much heavier losses, as much as 40% or more. Growers are also reporting the supply of available bees to replenish their hives as also being short. Some problems with queen quality has also been noted, issues
regarding poor laying, or longevity.
WISCONSIN: Temperatures for the month of April ranged in the high 50-60s at the beginning of the month for the central and southern part of the state, but a few beekeepers report snow storms in the northern part of the state. Most Beekeepers are busy taking inventory of the recently purchased package bees that they bought from other states due to a very low survival rate of their hives that didn’t survive this past winter. Beekeepers report some supplemental feeding as the nights are still quite cool and the recent rain during the middle and end of the month. Most beekeepers report their bees taking more cleansing flights as the weather permits. They also report their bees feeding on early spring trees such as pussy willow, maple blossoms, and dandelion. The also report their in good to excellent condition as they look forward to warmer temperatures and a good honey flow as the weather permits. Demand for honey at the retail level is fairly good, while moderate to slow at the wholesale level due to very little are no honey left over due to the cold harsh winter. Prices remain about the same.