Independence Day, the Fourth of July, is a day of celebration in the United States. It’s the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, marking the beginning of a new country. The Fourth of July has always been a significant day for Peace Bee Farm. Colonies started in the spring, from nucleus colonies, like the ones in today’s photo, packages, swarms, or colony divisions should now be well established. The memorable date is a good time to make some important bee hive record-keeping checks. We always counted the number of full-sized hives in place on the Fourth of July. When we harvested honey at the end of the summer, we divided the total weight of honey harvested by the number of hives in on the Fourth of July, giving a measure of the honey yield per hive. By keeping records of honey yield in each bee yard, the beekeeper can compare bee yards. While the yield of any bee yard may vary from year to year depending upon surrounding agricultural plantings, a measure of the honey yield over time can help the beekeeper determine which bee yards are low producers. These yards may need to be abandoned in favor of more productive yards. The Fourth of July is a day in which the bees are busy filling honey supers in the Arkansas Delta’s agricultural areas with soybean and cotton honey. In central Arkansas’ river valleys and Ozark Mountain foothills, early July marks the end of the spring honey nectar flow.
The Fourth of July is also a landmark in the beekeeping year. Swarms captured and hived before this date stand a good chance of building a large population of bees and accumulating enough honey to survive the following winter. Swarms captured after this date will likely starve over winter. These swarms need to be combined with existing colonies. After a quick count of your hives, enjoy the day devoted to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.--Richard