Autumn - the start of the season

Many people believe the beekeepers season starts in spring. However, to the bee farmer who operates in the Northern NSW, Southern Queensland and possibly other areas, autumn is the start of the beekeepers nutritional year. Winter is sometimes the resting time, spring is the traumatic swarm time and late spring and summer is the economic honey time.

For this reason, we will start by talking about the pollen quality in early autumn.

The bee farmers who get their autumn nutrition right will usually have a good start to the season, because:

* Nosema starts in autumn. If not controlled, nosema will reduce honey production in spring and summer. Good bee nutrition and high bee body-protein is the basis for effective nosema management.

* High bee body-protein, if established in autumn, will assist in the rapid breeding of bees in spring. Good spring bees are usually good honey producers.

* Re-queening should be finished by early autumn, as young summer/autumn-bred queens will be very active and queens in the following spring. The breeding of fertile and long-life queen bees is highly dependent on nutritious food for both the queen and the drones she mates with.

* It often rains in autumn; on the coast this often causes problems of nosema and European brood disease, but on the tablelands, good autumn rain can mean good seasons.

The major honey and pollen floral sources of autumn need to be understood so that bee farmers can manage their bees to reduce disease, increase the overwintering potential of their hives and increase honey and income production in the following season.

Rain

The subtropical/tropical areas of Australia usually have a rainfall that peaks in midsummer and continues into autumn and early winter. This autumn rainfall is the "wild card" as tropical rain on bee flora such as grey gum, grey box and tea-tree may well cause severe nutritional problems. On the tablelands, beneficial showers encourage ground flora such as St Barnaby's thistle, clover, mintweed, flatweed, narrowleaf stringybark and brown stringybark. However, rain on stringybarks when they are flowering often causes nosema disease in the beehives.


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