Importance of the Nectar Flow in Beekeeping

| 5/1/2014 8:50:00 AM


It's late April in Middle Tennessee and our nectar flow is on! In my first year of beekeeping, I made a lot of mistakes because I didn't understand what the nectar flow was or its importance. Since then, I've learned to watch the bees, learn from them, and work with them as the season progresses.

What Is the Nectar Flow?

The nectar flow is the time of year when the native vegetation is in full bloom. Here that starts about mid-April, when the trees begin to flower, and continues through May with blooming shrubs like blackberries, honeysuckle and, yes, even multiflora rose and privet, as well as a multitude of wildflowers. Then at the end of June, the summer dearth begins with little blooming other than clover. In the fall, we usually have another, smaller bloom of asters, goldenrod, and other wildflowers. In very dry years, this fall bloom can be pretty minimal.

Why Is the Nectar Flow So Important?


It's important to understand how the bees respond to the bloom. Even before the flowers begin to appear in the spring, the trees will begin to produce pollen. At the same time, the queen resumes laying eggs to build up the hive population that will soon collect nectar and make honey. The worker bees bring in this first pollen of the year to feed all the new larvae that will metamorphose into adult worker bees. By the time the flowers begin to bloom, the population in a healthy hive is exploding and drone bees also begin to appear in preparation for future swarming.

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