The end of summer is coming soon, you know how I know? The goldenrod has started to bloom! This is the last big pollinator bloom of the season, the bloom when bees stock up on nectar and pollen before the weather turns and gets too chilly for the bees. It’s a beautiful flower that leaves large swaths of yellow all over the farms. It’s beautiful, especially knowing that they bring with them a break in the heat and humidity of summer and soon we should have crisp air and cool breezes.
Except, that we are consistently seeing mild autumn and spring weather which does not bode well for the bees, or our breezes. As temperatures decrease below 50 the bees hunker down and don’t fly. The colder the temperature the less energy they need and the less honey and pollen they consume. This, along with a decrease in brood size, is what gets them through the winter and spring, until temperatures warm back up and the early pollinator plants start to bloom again.
When temperatures are consistently above 50, or even close to it, without a nectar or pollen source we see drastic decreases of food stores which can lead to the death of a colony. Many beekeepers start feeding their hives once the goldenrod dies and continue to do so until the temperatures get to cold for liquid feed, at which point some switch to an in hive sugar feed, picking back up on the sugar syrup when it starts to warm back up.
While we can continue to look forward to our brisk autumn weather most of us are aware that we may not experience the weather we knew as children anymore. Temperatures in the 80’s into November are no longer uncommon, and unfortunately these changes won’t be reversing any time soon. But we can do things to help reverse these damages and we can hope for better times, and we can continue to look forward to the beautiful blossoms of goldenrod as they usher these dreams in.
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