Dearth. It means a “scarcity” or “lack” of something. And the Texas summer dearth is a long season with a total lack of nectar-bearing plants for bees and other pollinators. When the temperatures are consistently above 100F, foliage just shrivels up and the land goes dry. And this year has been downright Biblical so far with June temperatures cresting 100F on a daily basis.
What that means for my small operation in Central Texas is a hit to honey production and a longer period where the bees need supplemental food in the form of sugar water. In fact, you might see me clearing the sugar shelves at all the local grocery stores this time of year.
And how do the bees handle the heat? They struggle. They need to spend a lot of energy retrieving water – hopefully from a source nearby – and spitting the water onto frames and flapping their wings to evaporate and cool the colony, a little bit like humans sweat to keep cool. The result is lots of energy and effort to survive these long dearth periods.
I try to leave as much honey as I can with the bees through these summer months and have taken to moving more hives into at least partial shade or afternoon shade to help them get through this time.
Folks often ask me if there’s something they can do to help bees and other pollinators, and my answer is always the same: be mindful of the habitat you can affect. What pollinators (and all critters for that matter) need is lots of wild and open space, and we can all make an impact in our own habitat and consumption right at home.
So stay cool, y’all, and please pray for rain. 🙂 Charlie