I was talking to a local conventional beekeeper today and he told me that he is about to start winterizing his hives; feeding with sugar syrup and "locking up" the hives which means leaving only 2 boxes in total and removing the supers.
I told him that this must be too early since it is only end of July but he said plants will not be able to produce much because of the drought and there isn't much forage left in this locality anyway because of all the mono-culture which already bloomed long ago in form of Canola.
Im shocked indeed! So there is no Autumn Honey in my locality!
I was thinking to harvest some honey from my strongest colonies end of July but now I'm worried to do so, unless I decide to feed them with sugar which I really don't want to do. My plan was to let them overwinter on their own honey and only take a few combs for myself from the strong colonies.
What I can do is equalize stores between all colonies and have none for myself. I guess I can go to my local conventional beekeeper and buy some from him ... sad really. His honey is only Canola honey which he could make thanks to swarm control by supering at that time and drone and queen cell culling which I dont do.
He suggested that I start migrating bees to better pastures around this part of Denmark as he is doing. There are those who grow White Clover for example.
I didnt have these issues in Sweden (South of Sweden is the same as Denmark though).
Mono-crop agriculture is the end of us no doubt.
I will need to do my best to create a bee sanctuary on my farm. It is needed indeed! I can see this now. So far my farm looks like on this photo map;
It would be easy for me to just let the bees be (as I already do) if I was a person with a "regular" job and bees are just a hobby. But I'm trying to make a living as a self-sufficient homesteader and some honey would sure help this life style somewhat. I mean I love working with bees and I would love to strike a balance between my household needs and bees needs. I mean I have people asking me to sell some honey to them and I have none! Sad even my wife is asking if we are going to have some honey at least for us this year?
How do I do that in this mono-crop environment and with natural practice?
It's obvious that letting bees have a brood break will resulting less honey but that is one thing I can't take away from them! This means my bees will either swarm or be split in May/Jun when the swarming impulse is strongest.
My bees will always have freedom to build natural comb that's for sure!
This locality is fairly good in Spring and early Summer. Lots of Willow, Maple, Hawthorn, fruit trees, dandelions, thistles, some white clover and of course there is always some Canola around here. But after thistles are done it seems dead.
So it seems that the only way to make some honey is by joining two colonies after the splitting in the same hive but separated by a tight follower board and placing a super on top so they both share it. Queen excluder might be necessary here so queens don't mix.
I could do that in a TBH I suppose or in a long Scandinavian hive. I should also feed new swarms with sugar syrup so they buildup comb faster. I rather feed sugar during comb building season than later.
It's seems I must ponder ...
Here is a video showing our mono-crop environment. Sad really :(