The honey bee hive is an orderly, humming operation during a strong nectar flow. Bees fly in and out of the hive at regular intervals. Foraging worker bees gather nectar any time that the flowering plants are secreting nectar and flying conditions are acceptable. When the foragers return to the hive, they pass off the nectar to house bees that move the nectar to available honeycomb cells where it is converted to honey. Much more storage capacity is required to hold the fresh nectar than is required to hold the finished honey. Large amounts of nectar are brought into the hive, but none of the bees seem to be in a hurry. The pace remains the same even though greater numbers of bees are working to accomplish their annual work of building honey stores to sustain the colony through the next winter. The pace of the work for the beekeeper, however, may not be as orderly. With an exceptionally strong nectar flow in progress, it is necessary to increase our efforts to provide honey storage capacity for the industrious bees. As a measure of caution, Tod and I head back to the wood shop to build some extra supers. This is a task that we prefer to do in cool weather, but we would rather perform some summer carpentry than risk missing an opportunity to collect honey. That’s Tod in the picture assembling the woodenware.
The colony never turns away nectar. If there are not enough honey supers in place, the bees will store the nectar in cells in the brood nest. This may result in the queen not having cells available to lay her eggs. This brood nest restriction is one of the major factors leading a colony to swarming. In the Arkansas Delta, the major nectar flows involve the agricultural crops, mainly soybeans and cotton. As the young worker bees evaporate the honey, it will be concentrated into a smaller volume in the honey supers.--Richard