The picture featured here is likely one of our honey bees collecting nectar from goldenrod blossoms. The picture was taken by Katelyn Baer, Photographer on property next to our apiary.
Most of the nectar collected by honey bees in this area of the Mackinaw River dells is done between the middle of April when the first dandelions appear through the black locust, honeysuckle, clover, and wildflower blooms, ending when the basswood, also known as Linden trees, finish flowering in mid-July.
From the middle of July until the goldenrod begins blooming the bees experience a dearth, meaning no or very little food is available to bring into the hive. This period of dearth usually lasts about 1 1/2 to 2 months. If we leave them alone, they consume their honey stores and cannibalize many of the eggs that the queen has laid because they don’t have the resources to feed them. Weak colonies get weaker and strong colonies consume honey stores meant for winter consumption. For that reason we have been feeding our weaker hives a light sugar syrup which is an excellent stimulant to brood production and keeps the nurse bees from consuming eggs.
Seeing the goldenrod bloom is a signal that it is now time to discontinue feeding as the incoming nectar will help the colony to grow from this natural food source and begin their production of bees that will survive the coming winter.