The Weather

In the next four pages the difference between theory and practice is explored!
In spite of all good intentions the main factor which affect the beekeeper and his honey crop is the weather.
2012 went down in the record books. Apart from two weeks in March which were warm and sunny; April, May, June, and July were generally overcast with one rain band following another.
Supposedly the jet stream was 200 miles more to the south than what would be expected and this brought a succession of rain bearing lows from the south-west over Ireland.

There was some improvement in August but it was only in September when the sun really got out.

This poor weather affected the local flora; the bramble for example normally flowers in the first week of May but did not produce any flowers until the second week in June.
A weather chart showing many of the rain bands which came across from the south west over the summer of 2012.
Seasons
weather map
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The chart below gives information on the temperatures to be expected in this area of South Cork on the Atlantic coast.

The chart shows
the mean daily maximum temperature over a 30 year period.
the mean daily minimum temperature over a 30 year period.
the mean daily temperature over a 30 year period.


the mean daily temperatures for the months in 2013, 2014,2015 and 2016 respectively.
My attempt at queen rearing using Ben Harden's method was a failure in early May, but was successful in June presumably because more nectar was available.

Whilst the final honey crop was very disappointing the bees themselves coped very well with the poor weather. This adaptability of the black bee to cope with this Atlantic climate should come as no surprise considering that over the millennia the black bee will have seen much worse weather that it experienced this year and still survives.

So whereas the year was not good for the honey crop it turned out that it was a very good year for making black bees. I was able to increase my colonies from 7 to 13.
2014
Spring was relatively mild compared to 2013. With temperatures above or very close to the average. Examination of the colonies in March was pleasing with most colonies having 2 or 3 frames of brood. There were no winter losses.

May was a good month noted for the spectacular blossom from every hawthorn.

June was a very good month with some honey taken off at the end of the month.

July was a wonderful month with lots of sunshine and higher than normal temperatures. The bees were extremely busy on the bramble. All in all an excellent year for honey.

The fine sunny weather continued into August and September; with above average temperatures for the rest of the year.
2013
The values show what a cold Spring was experienced.
The temperatures in March in particular were much lower that the average. Very little of the bees was seen in March.
April temperatures showed some recovery but were again below the average.
May initially was disappointing but an improvement was seen in the latter half.
June proved to be a very good month for the bees with temperatures close to normal.
July was an excellent month with the mean daily temperature much higher than the average.
All in all after a very disappointing start to the year, the summer turned out to be excellent from a honey point of view.
2015
The Spring was fairly normal with almost the whole month of April sunny albeit with a very cool easterly breeze. Examination of the 18 colonies in March shown all but 3 colonies with 2 or 3 frames of brood. One colony had a drone breeder queen and two colonies had only a very small patch of brood; these three were culled.
4 colonies had supersedure queens.

May in general was a degree cooler than normal with the prevailing wind from the north-west.
June on the whole was a disappointing month with the average temperature below the norm.
July was generally cool, wet and windy - all in all a very disappointing summer.
November and December were very wet and windy with mean temperatures much higher than the norm.
Next Page: The Annual Timetable
2016
The year started with a continuation of December's wet weather.
The past winter proved to be one of the warmest and wettest on record.
The Spring so far has been wet and cold; not much joy.
A first examination of all colonies showed that all had survived the winter except one - which had a bought in queen; suspect she was not adequately mated in last year's poor summer weather.
In April the cold weather continued with the wind from the north. So far a very disappointing start to the year.
May has shown some improvement with the daily temperatures a little above the mean. The hawthorn this year is prolific.
June was a disappointing month and July started in the same vein but showed some improvement towards the end.
Some information on the North Atlantic weather, sea temperature, and jet stream can be found on the magicseaweed website.

Monthly Temperatures