The Dearth, Robbing Season, and the Dreaded Yellow Jacket

Every year across most of the earth, honey bees experience a nectar and pollen dearth.  This event occurs when the honey bees (and other pollinators) run out of forage during the summer between the drying of the spring blooms and the start of the fall nectar flow.  This is also the time when conventional beekeepers prop up their bees by feeding unnatural sugar water, which is not good for bees for multiple reasons.  First, feeding honeybees makes them lazy, and sugar drives down their immunity making them more susceptible to disease and sickness.  Second, refined sugar is glucose, and is not a replacement for the biodiverse honey which includes dextrose, glucose, sucrose, essential minerals, vitamins and salt.  Third, feeding sugar water can also attract other unwanted pests that might also be experiencing their own dearth, including the much despised yellow jacket.  During our first season in beekeeping, the apiary had expanded from three colonies to nine colonies.  A community sugar water feeder was put out for the bees during the dearth and we noticed yellow jackets at the feeder.  In addition the yellow jackets were observed at the hive entrances of the smallest hives.  One by one, before we new what was going on, the yellow jackets killed five of the nine colonies, and only the strong survived.  Since that time we have stopped feeding sugar water and now pay close attention to the entrance size at the beginning of the dearth.  During this time the hive entrances are closed enough to allow only a couple of bees through at a time.  Narrowing the entrance helps the bees easily defend the hive and thus prevent robbing.  So, Let the Bees be Bees and allow them to keep their honey stores for the summer dearth and the winter, and narrow those entrances for a more defendable hive.  Bee Kept by bees and let them take care of themselves as much as possible!

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