Beekeeping Summer 2023 Update

It’s Hot in Fairbanks!  How are the bees doing? 

We had a rough start to our spring.  It was cold and prompted a slow start to our plants.  So, I wondered how were the bees doing?  The bees are typically out foraging in spring, no longer dependent on sugar water feeds.  Did they go out?  Did they snuggle in and stayed out of cold temperatures?  I asked two beekeepers for their thoughts on the matter. 

Shawn Weigand, a local beekeeper who has been beekeeping for years did not think that it hurt his bees, in fact he had not checked on them but was going to do so. He sounded like an experienced nonchalant beekeeper who had faith in the bees and in the fact that the temperatures were quite warm.  So, perhaps the bees were none the worse for the wear.  He presented me with a jar of honey that was different in color than what I see at farmers markets.  His honey was pale and very light.  It did not have the amber tones to it.  I wondered what his bees were foraging on.

Dawn Cogan, the fearless leader, educator, and resource of the beekeepers in interior Alaska was my go-to for additional insight.  She stated that the bees were doing fantastic now.  Initially not so good, many bees did not make it and beekeepers had to order a new batch.  Even with insulated boxes, the bees -were not faring well.  She said the second round was much better as temperatures got better, the pollen, the nectar from the flowers all helped the bees get to work.  She had to add another super box to her existing set up as the bees were not quite done collecting the honey.

Was it time to extract?  Yes, says Dawn, it starts now but will end in fall when the fireweed and clover and other pollinators are gone.  The bees are not getting much nectar now because the hot weather and no rain is limiting moisture in flowers to produce nectar. Unless there is a garden nearby with well-watered flowering plants, the nectar from natural pollinators like clover and fireweed is limited. When I asked about the pale and light-colored honey and what produces that coloration, Dawn said, it’s probably fireweed.

So, the news is good, maybe it was not positive in Spring due to cold weather, the beekeepers have made a remarkable and very productive turnaround during the course of summer.  The bees are happy, storing honey and the results will be abundant for the beekeepers.  Such happy news!

Interested in beekeeping?  Contact Dawn at 907-460-6050