Beekeeping Information Centre

Bee Craft Timely Reminder – 13th June 2018

Do you have a June gap in your area? Check that your colony has access to around two full brood frames’ worth of stores. If not, then they might just starve if the weather is bad for over a week.

In some regions there is a gap in flowering between the spring flowers such as sycamore, sloe, hawthorn and oilseed rape, and the start of the summer flowers eg, lime, clover, blackberry and sweet chestnut. This is described as the June Gap.

Whether or not the June Gap occurs, beekeepers need to be vigilant, as always, that there is enough food in the hive to last the colony through a period of bad weather. For example, 5 kg of food will last about a week. If your bees can’t forage due to rain or cold, they could starve if they ate through these stores.

So always count up how much food they have as follows: A brood frame full of stores on both sides weighs about 2.5 kg so they will need two of these to last. As you inspect, note down how many full-frame equivalents there are eg, two half-full frames (both sides) will hold around 2.5 kg. If the forecast is bad, consider giving them some syrup or fondant to prevent the risk of starvation.

The amount you give depends on how long it will be before you next inspect them and how low in stores they are. Also, only feed if you have no supers on. You don’t want to run the risk of syrup being stored in supers as you might extract it later, thinking it was honey! If there is nectar in the supers, you won’t need to feed as they can use that up.

Photo: Margaret Cowley – If you notice a June gap, feed syrup in a feeder placed above the hole in the crown board.

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