For most people bee season is something that goes hand in hand with spring, but there's much more to bee season. When is bee season exactly? Bee season starts way before spring and keeps going after summer days have dwindled. There's a lot of time and work that goes into the season and understanding it all is essential to maintaining bee populations, promoting successful pollination, and increasing the yield of personal and commercial gardening.
From Start To Finish – When Is Bee Season?
So, when is bee season? Bee season starts in the winter and lasts all the way into the fall. Each stage of bee season serves its own significance. Read on to find out all about bee season and get on your way to the healthiest hives.
The Beginning of Bee Season
When most people think of bee season, they think of spring with its blooming flowers and warmer weather. Realistically, bee season starts far before spring; it begins in the winter. Bee season starts in the winter because of how deeply changes in day length affect bees. In the northern hemisphere, the first day of winter is when bee season begins. As soon as the winter solstice arrives, the slight increase in daylight stirs the bees. During the days immediately after the winter solstice, the bee colonies change their activity to prepare for bee season.
The first step in preparation for bee season is taken on by the worker bees. The worker bees gradually raise nest temperatures. Worker bees raise the temperature of their nest from around 70-75 ?F to about 95 ?F. This increase in temperature takes the nest from a resting temperature to a brood rearing temperature. When the nest reaches 95 ?F the queen bee prompts to lay eggs. At this warm temperature, the queen bee builds a tiny brooding nest. After many weeks the nest will grow, and if all goes well, the hive population will continue to grow as the weather becomes warmer.
During Bee Season
As the weeks pass and seasons change from winter to spring, the bees work hard daily so brood production can continue. During this step, food is essential. They need more food to keep the nest warm enough for more brood rearing and to feed the existing brood too. March is poor timing for the bees to need more food. At this point in the season honey stored from the season before is running low and if the weather isn't nice enough yet, the bees may not have access to enough pollen. This part of the season can be deadly for a hive because at this stage; there are usually far more bees than the food supply can feed.
March represents a critical part of bee season, in this stage bees can die of starvation. For beekeepers, this stage in the season might be time to step in and help. If there isn't enough food, brood rearing will come to a halt, leading to a standstill in bee populations for the season. If there is enough food, then the brood will grow, and the hive will be ready just as the flowers bloom.
Due to the critical nature of this stage in bee season, it's important for beekeepers to pay close attention to the hive. As a beekeeper, you should peek into the hive to see if food stock is low. If the food supply for the nest is low, then it's important to help the bees by providing an emergency food supply. If the bees are active and getting close enough to peek inside the hive is difficult, you can observe the entrance of the hive. For a successful bee colony with enough food, the worker bees should pass in and out with pollen consistently.
If the brood and the hive make it through March, April will bring warmer weather and more success and food for the bee colony. By April, flowers and nectar will be abundant all over. With the extra food supply that April brings, by this stage of bee season, the hive will grow bigger by the day. For beekeepers, April is the best time to find and mark the queen. April is when finding the queen bee will be easiest, and if you wait until later in the season, it will be difficult to find her. April is also the prime time for beekeepers to clean out the beehive. Beekeepers should replace any damaged frames and get rid of brace comb during this period.
As spring reaches its way towards summer, April brings with it more safe and steady growth for the hive. At this point in bee season, beekeepers should be consistently monitoring the hive. April is also when beekeepers should keep an eye out for swarming.
The End Of Bee Season
It might seem strange that the first day of summer marks the end of bee season, but as day length prepares to change again, bee season ends. The summer solstice which occurs around June 20-21 in the northern hemisphere, marks the shortening of days. With the summer solstice comes the earlier sunsets that most people dread, and for the bees, it means getting ready for winter.
As the preparation for winter begins, the hive that has been actively growing sees a drop in brood production. The hive that has been consistently growing for months, stops and instead maintains its population. From the beginning of bee season, until this point, the main priority of the hive has been reproduction. By June, the main priority switches to survival.
Bees will stay active into the early fall, but they will do so at an activity rate much lower than spring and summer bees. As the temperature drops, the bees activity levels will drop too until finally, they are so inactive that they aren't seen outside of the hive. Mostly, the bees will stay inactive in their hives until the next winter solstice, when bee season begins again.
Keeping Swarms Alive
When is bee season? One of the major benefits of knowing the answer to this question is that understanding bee season can help you find, capture, and grow swarms. Swarming is possible through all of bee season, and as mentioned before, April is a good time to look out for it. For beekeepers, it's essential to pay attention to swarms and understand the likelihood of their survival depending on the different stages of bee season.
Swarms caught earlier in the season have a higher survival rate than those caught later on. Swarms found and captured during May or June have a much greater chance of storing enough food and surviving through the winter than a swarm caught in July. How can one month play such a big role in swarm survival?
Between June and July, the summer solstice arrives and brings with it a change in daylight which hugely influences swarm survival. As mentioned before, the shorter days lead to less brood production and population growth and more of a focus on survival for the hive. If a swarm is caught in May or June, there is still a chance to take advantage of the longer days and reach the number of bees needed to prepare for winter. By July, brood production and population growth will both be stopping, and it's likely that the swarm won't have enough bees to make it through the winter.
The Key Factor Controlling Bee Season
When you think of the question “when is bee season?” the sun should come to mind. Bee season starts in the depths of winter and lasts until the cool air of fall arrives. Bee season follows this cycle because of one major cause. From the beginning of bee season to the end of bee season, the slightest change in daylight is the driving force behind the whole season. As soon as the days grow longer, bees know it's time to work. The moment the days shorten, the bees know it's time to go into survival mode and get ready for winter, until it's their time to grow again.
Bee Season And The Beekeeper
When is bee season for a beekeeper? For beekeepers, understanding bee season can help maintain and grow healthier hives which will produce greater pollination, more honey, and more bees! From the start of bee season, it's important to keep an eye on the hive and make sure the bees have a proper food supply. If a hive is low on food, the beekeeper should step in and help the hive survive.
As the season flourishes in the spring and summer, it's essential for beekeepers to understand that this stage is the time to maintain hives and replace any damaged parts. This is also the stage of bee season when beekeepers need to keep an eye out for swarming. The earlier a swarm is identified and captured, the greater its chances of survival are. Understanding the right stage of bee season to look out for swarms, and the best stage to capture swarms is essential for beekeepers in facilitating the survival of swarms. For beekeepers, a great bee season starts from the knowledge of every stage of the season.
The Importance Of Bee Season
When is bee season? Well, that depends on the sun. Bees follow the sun as they begin, flourish through, and end bee season. For us, understanding the different stages of bee season helps keep bee populations growing, promotes pollination and yields greater success for commercial and personal gardening.