A Florida Beekeeping Almanac

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Title:
A Florida Beekeeping Almanac
Physical Description:
Fact sheet
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Sanford, Malcolm T.
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u
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
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Published
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"May 1985"
General Note:
"Circular 537"

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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All rights reserved by the submitter.
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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac1 TheInstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciencesisanEqualOpportunity/AffirmativeActionEmployerauthorizedtoprovideresearch,educational informationandotherservicesonlytoindividualsandinstitutionsthatfunctionwithoutregardtorace,color,sex,ornationalorigin. FloridaCooperativeExtensionService/InstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciences/UniversityofFlorida/JohnT.Woeste,DeanMalcolmT.Sanford2Thepurposeofthisalmanacistohelpbeekeepers makebettermanagementdecisions.Itisaguideto beekeepinginaspecificarea,thestateofFlorida. Anydiscussionofbeemanagementshouldinclude referencetogeographiclocation,becausemajor differencesinproceduresandtimingareoften necessaryeveninadjacentcounties.Thisalmanacis generalized,andgivesthebeekeepertheflexibilityto workoutmanyofthespecifiestosuithisown situation. Aboveallelsethebeekeepermustbeagood manager.Management,infact,isallabeekeepercan hopetodotoinfluencethesizeofahoneycrop.It isthe"art"ofmanagingacolonyandapiarythatsets amasterbeekeeperapart.Thisknowledgecomes onlyfromhardexperience,mostlylearningbydoing withahighriskoffailure.Inspiteofthefactthat beekeepingismadetolooksimpleinmanypopular articlesandbooksonthesubject,itisperhapsmore difficulttobesuccessfulinbeekeepingthaninother formsofagriculture.Thisisbecauseofthenumber ofvariablesoverwhichthebeekeeperhaslittleorno control.Attimes,itseemsthatmanagementin beekeepingislittlemorethanaguessinggame. Thebetterbeekeepermoreoftenthannothasthe better"guessing"record.Helearnsliterallyto"think likeahoneybeecolony,"developingvagueor instinctivefeelingsaboutwhenmanipulationis necessary,ratherthanadheringtoarigidtimetable. Inordertodothis,thebeekeepermustconstantlybe anexperimenter.Agoodbeekeeperisconservative, however,whenattemptingsomethingdifferent,and triestechniquesonasmallscalebeforecommitting theirusetohistotaloperation.KEEPINGRECORDSOneofthebestaidsinmanaginghoneybeesisawellkeptrecordsystem.Manybeekeeperskeepindividual recordsofeachcolonyovertheseasonbyusingacodeof sticks,stonesorotherobjectsstrategicallyplacedonthe topsofcolonies.Unfortunately,thesearetemporaryatbest andcannotbereferredtoinsubsequentyears.Amore permanentsystemuseseithernotesoncardsoralogbook. Thekindofinformationrecordedmayincludethenumber identifyingaspecificcolonyinabeeyard,thepresentand pastlocationofthecolony,whenthequeenwasintroduced, andwhethershe'smarkedorclipped. Eachtimethecolonyisinspected,additional observationscanberecordedsuchasthequalityand quantityofbrood,presenceofeggs,larvaeorpupae, conditionofthequeen,andtemperofthecolony. Individualrecordscanbeanysize,althoughindexcard sizeappearstobefavoredbymost.Theeasierthesystem istohandleinthefield,themorerecordkeepingwillbe facilitated.Thispublicationincludessuggestedformatfor anindividualrecordcard(page14).Sometimescardsare directlyattachedtoacolony,whereasinothersystemsthe cardreferstoanumberonthecolonyandiskeptatthe beekeeper'sheadquarters. Amoregeneralnotationofobservationsateach locationisalsovaluableinformation.Informationsuchas whatplantsarebloomingandwhen,generalweather conditions,temperofbees,andwhethernectarorpollenare beingcollected,alladdtoabeekeeper'soverallknowledge ofthelocation.Thisinformationcanbecollectedand summarizedintoayearlycalendarandusedtocompare differencesbetweenyears.Avaluableadditiontotheabove informationisdatafromascalecolonyinthelocation recordingcolonyweightchangesthroughouttheyear. 1.ThisdocumentwaspublishedMay1985asCircular537,FloridaCooperativeExtensionService.Formoreinformation,contactyourcounty CooperativeExtensionServiceoffice. 2.CooperativeExtensionService,InstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciences,UniversityofFlorida,Gainesville.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page2Althoughproductionrecordsarevitaltoany beekeepingoperation,theyonlytellpartofthestory. Financialrecordkeepingisbecomingmoreandmore importantwhetherthebeekeeperhasthousandsoronlya fewcolonies.Fluctuatinginterestrates,fuelcostsand inflationareresponsibleforpricehikesineverythingfrom sugarforfeedingtowoodenware.Theseeconomic changes,inthefaceofonlymodestincreasesinhoney prices,meansmallerandsmallerprofitmarginsfor beekeepers. Intheend,a"sharppencil"canmanytimesmeanmuch moretoanoperationthaneffortexpendedinproducinga fewextrasupersofhoney.Asuggestedfinancialrecord keepingsystem,designedespeciallyforbeekeepersbyDrs. W.J.GomerjacandR.A.Luening,CooperativeExtension Service,UniversityofWisconsin,isfoundinAppendix1.GENERALCHARACTERISTICSOFFLORIDAFloridacanroughlybedividedintotwoareas,anorth andwestern(panhandle)sectionandasouthernpeninsula. Thereisaboutasixdegreelatitudedifferencebetweenthe extremenorthandsoutherntipofthestatewhichaccounts foraboutanhourandahalfphotoperiod(daylength) difference. ThelengthofdayinFloridaisadvantageousforbeekeeping andagricultureingeneral,forthesunshineslongerinthe winterandshorterinthesummerthaninmoretemperate regions.Thestatealsospansseveralclimaticzonesand temperate,subtropicalandtruetropicalconditionsall prevailinpartsofFlorida. Floridahasabout8,700milesofcoastlineandno interiorpartisover70milesfromtheocean.This proximitytowatermoderatesextremesintemperature throughouttheyear.Inaddition,sizeableareasofwater andlow-lyingswamp(about4,400squaremiles)existin Floridawhichmayalsogreatlyinfluencelocalclimatic conditions. ElevationsinFloridarisetoabout300feetinthe panhandle,butmostofthecentralportionofthepeninsula isonly50to100feetabovesealevel.Thesegentle gradientssometimespreventrapidrainfallrunoffand localizedfloodingcanoccur.CLIMATEFloridaisknownasthe"sunshinestate"andthesun shinesabouttwo-thirdsofthepossibledaylighthourseach year.Assuch,Floridaischaracterizedbylong,warmand humidsummers.Extremecontinentalheatwaves,however, areusuallyabsentduetoshorterdays,constantseabreezes andfrequentthundershowers.Theaveragemaximum temperatureinJulyrangesfrom92oF(33oC)inthenorthto 88oF(31oC)inthesouth(Fig.1).Temperaturesover100oF (37oC)arenotunusualfornorthFlorida,butarerareinthe centralandsouthernportionofthestate.Beecoloniesare affectedbyheatinseveralways.Warmairisableto absorbmoremoisturefromripeningnectarthaniscooler air.Thebroodnestcannottoleratetemperaturemuchabove 95oF(35oC)and,therefore,inextremelyhotweather,the beesbringwaterintothecolonytoevaporateforcooling thebroodnest.Protectingcoloniesfromthehotsummer sunmaybeadvisablewhenselectinglocations,although thereisevidencetosuggestbeesbecomemoredefensivein theshade. Thewintersareconsideredmildinmostpartsof Florida.TheaverageJanuaryminimumtemperaturefor example,rangesfrom42oF(6oC)inthenorthto64oF(18oC) inthesouth(Fig.2).ThemaximumJanuarytemperatures rangefrom66oF(19oC)inthenorthto76oF(24oC)inthe south(Fig.3).Thismeansthathoneybeesareabletofly almostanytimeofyear.Asaconsequence,food consumptioncanbesignificantlygreaterduringwinterin comparisontomoretemperateareaswherebeesare confinedinthehiveforlongperiodswithminimalfood requirements. Althoughwintersarenotsevere,coldwavesinFlorida canbefrequent.Theirpatternsofoccurrenceare influencedbycoldairfromthenorthernUnitedStatesand Canada.Noplaceinthestateappearstobefreefromfrost danger,eventhoughtheaveragenumberoffrost-freedays rangesfrom240inthepanhandleto365intheKeys(Fig. 4).Averagedatesforthelastfrostinthespringrange fromJanuary29inthesouthtoMarch15inthenorth(Fig. 5).Therangeforthefirstfreezeinthefallisfrom December10inthesouthtoNovember15inthenorth (Fig.6).

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page3Whenfrostdoesoccur,itisusuallyonthesecondnight ofacoldwaveafterfrontalwindshavediedandclear nightspromoterapidheatlosstotheatmosphere. Microclimate(localizedclimaticconditions)playsan importantpartinfrostdamagetobothvegetationandhoney bees.Depressionsareespeciallypronetofrost,forcold, denseaircancollectinlowspotsresultinginloweringthe temperatureafewmorecriticaldegreesthanonsurrounding hillsides.Itisoftenrecommended,therefore,thatbee coloniesnotbeplacedinlowareas. Warmperiodsbetweenfrostsarealsosometimes damagingtovegetationandhoneybees.Warmweathercan stimulateplantstosendtendershootsforthorbeestorear amarginalamountofbrood,bothofwhichmaybe damagedbythenextcoldwave. AlthoughnopartofFloridaliesstrictlyinthetropics (belowlatitude231/2oN;theTropicofCancer),muchof thestateischaracterizedbydistincttropicalwetanddry seasonscorrespondingtohighandlowsunperiods respectively.InnorthFloridaandthepanhandle,minor rainfallpeaksalsooccurinthespringandwinter. Averageannualrainfallinthenorthpartofthestate rangesfrom64"inthepanhandleto52"ontheeastcoast. ThedriestareaisextremesouthFloridawithanaverageof 40"(Fig.7).Morethanhalfthe state'srainfallusuallyoccursintheperiodAprilto September(Fig.8).Precipitationhowever,canbequite sporadic,generallyintheformofthundershowers,andit maybethatonepartofthestatesuffersdroughtwhile anotherhastoomuchrain.Manyareashaverecorded almost80inchesofprecipitationinoneyear,andmosthave experiencedatleastoneseasonwithlessthan40".Intense rainsmayaccompanytropicalstormsandhurricanes.The recordrainfallfora24hourperiodduringahurricanewas atYankeetownin1958,astaggering38.7inches!The chancesofhurricaneforcewindsinanygivenyear,usually accompaniedbytorrentialdownpours,differswithlocation inFlorida,andrangesfrom1in100inJacksonvilleto1in 6atMiami(Table1). Precipitationpatternsareextremelyimportantin agriculture.TheunpredictabilityofrainfallinFloridahas causedmanyfarmerstorelyonirrigation,whileatthesame time,havingtoconstructfacilitiestoremoveexcesswater fromfields.Noagriculturalcropsaregrownstrictlyfor honeybeesinFlorida,butthebeesforageonmanykinds offruitandvegetables.Sobeesdosometimesbenefitfrom irrigationandwaterremovalsystems.Mostbeeforage, however,isferalinnatureandthusvulnerabletovariation inrainfall.Plantsneedaccesstomoistureinorderto secretenectarwhichisoftenover70%water.Toomuch water,ontheotherhand,isarealthreattobeecolonies. Floodingcanblockthehiveentrance,

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page4 reducetheairsupplyandsuffocatethebeesinaveryshort time.Itisusuallyrecommended,therefore,thatbeeyards notbelocatedinprimeflashfloodareasandthatduring tropicalstorms,coloniesbemonitoredandmovedtohigher groundifnecessary. Florida'sclimateischaracterizedashumid.Humidity varieslittlefromplacetoplaceandislower(50%to65%) intheafternoonwhenthesunisusuallyshiningthan eveningorearlymorning(85%to95%).Itisknownthat arelativehumidityof50%(whentheaircontainshalfthe moistureitcanpossiblyholdataspecifictemperature)is requiredforhoneybeeeggstohatch.Inaddition,humid airabsorbslessmoisture,creatingmoreworkforabee colonywhichmustevaporateexcesswaterfromnectarin thehoney-makingprocess.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page5BEEBOTANYEverybeekeepershouldknowsomebotany,forwithout therightplantstosecretenectar,nohoneywouldbe producedevenfromawell-managedcolony.Often publicationslistingplantsthatproducegoodsuppliesof nectarandpollenprovidethebeekeeperwithlittle informationaboutwheretheymightbefoundorwhat influencestheirnectarproduction.Littleisknownabout thelatterbecausesomanyvariablescancomeintoplayin anyoneseason.Overlongperiodsoftime,experiencehas becomethebestteacherindeterminingwhatareasare superiornectarproducers.Conditionssuchasmakeupof thesoil,pH(degreeofacidity),moistureconditionsand otherfactorsallcomeintoplayandservetoexplainwhy similarplantsmayproducelargequantitiesofnectarinone placebutnotinothers. Floridaischaracterizedbyseveralmajorlandresource areaslargelybasedonunderlyingsoilassociations(Fig.9). Thesecanprovideageneralguidetothebeekeeperin searchofnectarsources.Theextremenorthernandwestern (panhandle)partsofthestatearedominatedbytwoareas, (1)thesouthcoastalplainwhichextendssomedistanceinto AlabamaandGeorgia,and(2)thenorthFloridaflatwoods. Theprinciplevegetationmixinbothareasisevergreenand deciduousforest,consistingoflongandshortleafpine,oak andhickoryintheuplands;andcypressandguminpoorly drainedareas. Thebeeforageintheseareasisvariedandincludes sourwood,tulippoplar,gallberry,sawpalmetto,cabbage palm,partridgepeaandblackberry.TrailingChinquapin, flat-toppedgoldenrod,summerfarewell,Spanishneedles andMexicanclovermayalsobefound,especiallyin disturbedareas.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page6 Table1. Chancesofhurricaneforcewindsinanygiven year City Chances Jacksonville 1in100 DaytonaBeach 1in50 Melbourne-VeroBeach 1in20 PalmBeach 1in7 Miami 1in6 KeyWest 1in8 FortMyers 1in11 Tampa-St.Petersburg 1in25 Apalachicola-St.Marks 1in17 Pensacola 1in8Source:ClimatesoftheStates,ClimatographyoftheUnitedStatesNo. 60-8,NationalOceanicandAtmosphericAdministration.1968.Othernectarandpollensourcesincludewhiteandblack (summer)ti-ti,crimsonclover,redmapleandwillow.The ApalachicolariverareasupportsoneofFlorida'sbest knownnectarsources,thewhitetupeloorogeecheetree. Theprincipalkindsofagriculturefoundintheseareasare cattlepastureageandforest-based(navalstores)interspersed withuplandforagecropslikecorn,soybeansandpeanuts. ThecentralFloridaRidgeisanareaofdeep,welldrainedsoilsoflownaturalfertilitywhichsupportsthe majorcitrusindustryofthestate.Citrusisamajor cultivatedbeeforageplant,andoneofthebestnectar sourcesinthestate.Theoriginalvegetationofthisarea wasforestsofmixedhardwoodandpineonuplandsoilsin thenorthandlongleafpineandturkeyoakinthecentral section.Manyoftheplantsfoundinbothsoutherncoastal plainandnorthFloridaFlatwoodsarealsofoundhere,but are

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page7 oftenlimitedindistributionduetolarge-scaleagriculture. Gopherapple,prairiesunflower,Nutall'sthistleand buttonbushareallfoundincentralandsouthpeninsular Floridaandarereliablealthoughminorsourcesofnectar. Somecultivatedplantsintheareabesidescitrusmayalso providelimitednectarandpollensuchasloquats,kumquats, watermelonsandothercucurbits(squashandcucumber). ThecentralandsouthFloridaFlatwoodsliesouthof thesoiltemperatureline(Fig.9),whereaveragesoil temperatureat20inches(50em)exceeds72oF(22oC),and surroundtheCentralFloridaRidge.Oftensurfacedrainage ispoorintheflatwoods,andunderlyinghardpaninsome areaspreventsfreewatermovementupwardordownward, makingdroughtandfloodingmoredamaging.Here longleafpineprevails,butanunderstoryofsmallshrubs, someofwhichareexcellentnectarsources,alsoexists.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page8Inswampylocations,cypressandgumpredominate. Thebeeforageisdominatedbysawpalmetto,cabbage palmandgallberry,allmajornectarsources.Inthe southernportionoftheflatwoods,introducedplantslike Brazilianpepperandthepunktree( Melaletica)aremaking majorinroadsandarealsoexcellentnectarsources.The lattermaybloomseveraltimesayearinsomelocations, providingmuch-neededbeeforageearlyintheyearandin thefallwhenthebeesneeditmost.Spanishneedlesand flat-toppedgoldenrodarealsoexcellentfallnectarplants foundintheFloridaflatwoods.Inaddition,fromabout Hernandocountysouthward,coastalmangroveswamps existonthewestcoastwhichincludewhiteandblack mangrove,thelatterasignificantnectarproducer.Thispart ofFloridaisalsoknownfortwominornectarsources, pennyroyalandseagrape.Botharenotaswidespreadas theyoncewere,butstillmaybegoodproducersinlocalized areas. Thesoilsoftheflatwoodsarenotassuitablefor growingcropsasthoseofthecentralFloridaRidge.The agriculturehereismostlylivestockandforest-based, althoughisolatedsoilsarefoundwhichsupporttruck farmingandforagecropslikecorn. TheFloridaEvergladesisfoundsouthandwestof LakeOkeechobee.Thisisthemajorwintervegetablegrowingregioninthestatewheresignificantamountsof polebeans,stringbeans,celery,potatoes,peppers,squash, watermelons,lettuceandtomatoesareproduced.In addition,tropicalcropslikesugarcane,avocado,guava, limesandmangoarecultivated.Thebeeforagehereison thedeclineaslarge-scaleagricultureincreases,however, largenaturalareasstillexistwhereplantslikeSpanish needles,clovers,gallberry,sawpalmettoandcabbagepalm grow.Again,coastalareasaredominatedbymangrove, andtheBrazilianpepperand Metaleuca arealsowell establishedinthisarea.Ingeneral,thehoneybeesobtain onlysmallamountsofnectarfromthecultivatedvegetables andfruitsinthisregion,butareextremelyimportantinthe pollinationofmanyofthesecrops. Althoughmostbeeplantsaregenerallyassociatedwith specificlandresourceareas,theyarenotnecessarily confinedtothoseregions.Manynectar-producingplants arestatewideindistribution,althoughcertainlocalized habitatrequirementsmustbemetbeforetheywillgrowand secretenectar. Perhapslessthantenplantsareconsideredprime sourcesofnectarandpolleninFlorida,however,many morecontributetoacolony'swell-beingthroughoutthe year.Table2isacomprehensivelistofmostplants importanttohoneybees,butisbynomeansexhaustive.BEELOCATIONSBecauseconditionsaffectingplantsvaryfromyearto year,itoftentakesseveralyearstotellwhetheracertain beelocationisagoodoneforsurplushoneyproduction.A superioryearcanbefollowedbytwomediocreones,and thesitemaystillmeritasuperiorrating.Athreetofive yeartrialperiod,therefore,isusuallyrecommendedto determinewhetheraparticularlocationisgood. Becauseofthisratherlongexperimentalperiod,itmay benefitbeekeeperstospreadtheircoloniesaround,testing severallocationsatonetime,ratherthanhavingthemallin oneplace.Often,timespentsearchingforbeelocations canbeshortenedbyaskingexperiencedbeekeepersinthe areawhatsitestheyfeelarebetterthanothers.PROTECTINGBEESFROMPESTICIDESOneofthemostimportantconsiderationswhenlocating honeybeesisthepossibilityoftheinsectsbeingpoisoned bypesticideapplication.Thisisespeciallytruewhen coloniesarelocatednearcultivatedcropssuchascitrus, blueberriesandvegetables.Inurbanlocations,beesmaybe poisonedbymosquitocontroloperations. Thebeekeeper,therefore,shouldpayattentiontoinsect controlcampaignsandwhatdamagetheymightdotohis bees.Thebestruletofollowistoestablishcommunication withnearbyfarmersand/ormosquitocontroldistrictssoyou willbenotifiedbeforepesticideapplications.Thekeyto protectingbeecoloniesisprevention,usuallypossible throughcooperationbetweenthebeekeeperandthosewho mightapplypesticides. Anyquestionsaboutpesticideapplicationanditseffect onhoneybeesshouldbedirectedtoyourcountyextension agent.TheFloridaCooperativeExtensionServicepublishes Circular534,ProtectingHoneyBeesFromPesticides.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page9BEEPOPULATIONDYNAMICSThedynamicsofbeepopulationforeachcolonywill varybasedoninternalandexternalconditions.Usually, egglayingbythequeensbeginsinDecember,stimulatedby photoperiod,feedingbythebeekeeperand/ortheblooming ofpollenandnectar-producingplantssuchaspennyroyal, redmapleandwillow.Theseplantsproduceaprofusionof pollenimportantforbroodrearing.Later,inMarchand April,otherplantsbegintobloomwhichproducemore nectarandpollenfurtherstimulatingthecolony'spopulation growth. Ideally,thepopulationofadultbeesinacolonyshould reachapeakatthesametimeasnectarproduction.Thisis notalwaysthecase,however,and,therefore,theearly nectarflowsbycitrusorgallberrymaybemissed.Thus,it becomesthebeekeeper'sresponsibilityinmanyinstancesto artificiallystimulatethebeeswhicheffectivelyshiftsthe populationgraphinthecalendartotheleft.InMayand June,mostofthemajornectar-producingplantsarein bloomincludingsawpalmetto,cabbagepalmand mangrove. Mid-summerisgenerallyatimeofpopulationdecline forhoneybees.Fewplantsarebloomingtheninthenorth andwestportionofthestate,althoughsomemoretropical partsmayhavebloomsyearround.Thisisthewetseason oftheyear,butsometimesthereisintermittentdrought.

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page10Table2. SomeFloridaplantsfromwhichbeescollecteitherpollen,nectarorboth PlantName Pollen Source Nectar Source PlantName Pollen Source Nectar Source Bermudagrass X Grape X X Bitterweed X X Holly X X Blackberry X X Honeysuckle X X Blackgum X X Johnsongrass X X Blueberry X Laurelcherry X Buttonbush* X X Lilactree X X Cajeput(Melaleuca)* X X Limabeans X Centuryplant X X Locust X X Chickweed X X Lupine X X Chicory X X Mangrove,black* X X Chinesetallow X Mangrove,white X X Citrus* X X Maple* X X Clovers* X X Mexicanclover* X X Corn X Milkvetch X X Cotton X X Milkweed X X Cottonwood X Mints X X Cowpea X Mustard X X Cucurbits(watermelon, cantaloupe,cucumber, gourds,pumpkin,squash)* X X Oak X Palms(cabbagepalm, sablepalm)* X Dandelion* X X Partridgepea* X X Dogbane X Peach X Elderberry X Pear X X Gallberry* X X Pepperbush(Florida holly,Brazilianpepper)* X X Goldenrod* X X *Indicatesmajorsources Coloniesshouldbeextensivelymonitoredatthistime, foralocalizedlackofnectar,resultinginstarvationofbee colonies,isarealpossibility.InlateJulyandearlyAugust, stimulationbyplantssuchaspartridgepea,Mexicanclover andBrazilianpeppercausesbeepopulationstorise somewhattocoincidewiththemajornectarflowsinthefall ofaster,goldenrod,spanishneedles,summerfarewell, Melaleuca andBrazilianpepper.Atthistime,thecolony beginstoproduceso-called"winterbees,"orthosewhich arephysiologicallymoreabletostorefoodreservesintheir bodiesduringcoldweather. Theprecedingdescriptionisbasedonatemperate season.MuchofsouthernFlorida,ofcourse,doesnothave sodistinctaseasonalchange.Introducedplantslikethe Melaleuca andothernativevegetationmayinfactbloom muehoftheyear.Thiscausesthepeaksandvalleysofbee populationshowninthecalendartosmoothout considerably.Inthetropics,twoseasonsprevail,notfour. Thebeekeepingcalendarthusispredicatedlesson photoperiodandtemperaturevariationthanonmoisture availability.Usually,tropicalnectar-producingplantsbloom heavilyduringthedryseason,beingmoreorlessdormant duringtherainyseason.SouthernFlorida,therefore, becomesagrayzoneofsortsasfarasbeekeepingis

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page11concerned-somewherebetweenclassicaltemperateand tropicalconditionswhichmustbeaccountedforwhen makingbeemanagementdecisions.SEASONALBEEMANAGEMENTThemostimportantinspectionofabeecolonyisthe oneconductedinthespringofeachyear.Bylate DecemberandearlyJanuarytheinspectionshouldbe completed.Thebeekeeperlooksforsignsofdisease, patternofbrood(indicatingqueenquality),populationsize andfoodsupply. Estimatingacolony'sstoresofnectarandpollenis extremelycriticalatthistime.Eventhoughtheinsectsmay appeartohaveplentyofstores,theyuseavailablefoodat arapidratethistimeofyearproducingbrood.Bee coloniescan,therefore,quicklybecomeoverextended,and anydelayinbloomingoraperiodofinclementweathercan causethemtostarve.Ifthereisanydoubtaboutfood supply,coloniesshouldberegularlymonitoredthroughthe springpopulationbuildupuntiltheyareactivelygathering nectarandpolleninthefield.Shouldthefoodsupply diminishtheycanbefedsugarsyrupordrysugarand pollensupplementtoseethemthroughthiscriticalperiod. Manybeekeepersalsoroutinelyfeedbeestoaccelerate populationbuildupinpreparationofearlyflowsofgallberry orcitrus.SWARMINGOneofthemajorproblemsthroughoutthebuildup seasonforbeekeepersisswarming.Thisisthemeansby whichabeecolonyreproduces;abouthalfthebeesandthe oldqueenleavethecolonytoseekanewhome.Swarming effectivelyreducesthehoneycropbecausethedeparting beestakemuchofthefoodsupplywiththemandthe weakerpopulationleftintheparentcolonycannotproduce thesizecroptheoriginalpopulationmighthave. Theurgetoswarmbecomesmoreandmorepowerful asahoneyflowapproaches.Muchhasbeenwrittenabout controllingswarming,butthebestadviceistopreventthe swarmingimpulsefrombeginningwithinacolony.Most peoplebelievethesimplestwaytodothisistoprovide enoughroomandventilationsothebeesdonotbecome overcrowded.Thisisdonebyaddingsupersbeforethey areneeded.Itisgenerallyrecommendedtoaddsupers whenthebeesarefoundcoveringallexistingframes. Commercialbeekeepersmayaddtwoormoresupers dependingonhowsoonthenexttriptothebeeyardis anticipated.REQUEENINGAtpracticallyanytimeofyear,ahoneybeecolonycan berequeenedinFlorida.Someprefertodothisinearly spring,othersduringthetwomainnectarflowperiodsin earlysummerandfall.Mostbeekeepersrequeeninthefall, Septemberbeingthepreferredmonth.Queensareless expensiveatthistimeofyear;thereissufficienttimeto replaceaqueenthatisnotaccepted;andtheprocess providesayoungqueentoproducealargenumberof vigorouswinterbeesandastrongpopulationearlythe followingspring. Usually,beekeepersrequeeneverytwoyears,butno hardandfastrulesexistonthesubject.Somenever requeen,preferringinsteadtoletthebeeshandlethis sometimes"ticklish"task.Themajorruletofollowin requeeningistoremovetheoldqueenfirst.Afterafew hoursanewqueencanthenbeintroducedinamalling cage,bymeansofapushincageorinbetweentwoframes ofbroodcoveredbyyoungbees.WINTERINGThelastmajorinspectionofbeecoloniesoccursinthe fall.Thebeesusuallyarrangetheirwinternestadequately, butthebeekeepershouldensurethatthenecessary conditionsaremetforsuccessfulwintering.Theseinclude: nosignofdisease,about80poundsofhoney,threeframes ofpollenandsevenframesofbroodcoveredbyadultbees. BecausehoneybeesremainactiveinFloridaformuch ofthecoldseason,thebeekeepermustcontantlymonitor coloniesforstoresandbepreparedtofeedhisbeesif necessary.Ventilationisextremelyimportanttohoneybee coloniesduringwinter.Thewarmairacolonyproducesis oftensaturatedwithmoisture.Ifthisairistrappedwithin acolony,themoisturemaycondenseinsidethebeehive whichisbadfortheinsectsandprovidesanexcellent mediumformicroorganismgrowth.Inmostcases,proper ventilationmaybeaccomplishedbyproppingupcoversor drillingholesabovethehandholds.STARTINGSMALL-THEKEYTOSUCCESSInsummary,thepurposeofthisalmanacistoprovide aguidetomakingmanagementdecisionsintheartand scienceofbeekeeping.Itinnoway,however,cantakethe placeofknowledgeandexperiencegainedinthefieldby actuallykeepinghoneybees.Forthebeginner,thismeans startingsmallandonlycontemplatingincreasingthesize andscopeofthebeekeepingoperationasthenecessary experienceisgained.Foradvancedbeekeepers,thismeans changingestablishedmanagementproceduresslowlyby

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AFloridaBeekeepingAlmanac Page12experimentingwithonlyafewcoloniesuntilnewideasare proveneffectiveinaparticularbeekeepingoperation. Perhapsthebestadvice,therefore,thatcanbegivento allbeekeepersistobelikebeesthemselves,extremely conservative.Foritisonlyduetothisthattheseinsects havebeenabletoadaptandsurvivesowelloverthelast70 millionyears.