Saturday, January 30, 2010
Ice Storms Affect Nectar Flows
While major ice storms, which break limbs and topple entire trees, bring much attention for electrical power losses and safety hazards, they also affect the honey bees later in the year. Ice storms often damage the flower buds or the branches that produce flowers foraged by the bees. Last year’s severe ice storms in the Mid-South virtually eliminated the nectar from black locust and tuliptree that many beekeepers rely upon for honey production. While the failure of certain sources of nectar and pollen may disrupt the regular flow of bee foods, the scout bees can usually find alternative sources. This change in nectars leads to differences in the color and flavor of honeys from the same bee yard from year to year. I observed a thin coating of ice on dogwoods, willows, plums, maples and redbuds that the honey bees will be visiting in the coming months. The ice damage was slight.