Hundreds of kilos of extra sugar to save bees

Photo credit: Pexels

The extremely dry weather causes serious problems for bees. There is little to no nectar in the flowers. Beekeeper Marcel Horck has to feed his bee colonies with a lots of sugar. “They can’t make their winter supply. If I don’t do anything, the bees will all die from October.”

Along the track at Berkel-Enschot, the beekeeper has half a million bees. With a canister full of sugar, he feeds his bees. “I’ve got another hundred kilos of sugar from the supermarket. I’m already at a thousand kilos this year, it will probably be 1500 kilos by the end of the summer.”

With the drought of the past few months, there is not even  a gram of nectar left for the bees and so they are hungry. “It’s just gone,” Horck concludes. “During this period, we always give the bees some extra sugar water, as winter food. But now I feed 50 per cent  more because of the drought.”

Honey harvest

We don’t have to worry about the supply of honey, because it has already been ‘harvested’. According to the beekeeper, it was a very good year. “The first honey is harvested from mid-May, the last batch is around mid-July. After that we don’t take honey anymore, then the bees take nectar to survive now and to replenish the winter supply.”

Winter food

But there are concerns about how the bees get through the winter. By mid-September, each bee colony must have about fifteen kilos of honey to survive the winter. “In July, they still had ten kilos of honey left after harvesting. Now there is only two kilos left.  Normally their store would have increased. They just don’t have winter supplies anymore.”

In the field in front of the hives there are still beautiful purple flowers, but due to the drought there is no nectar in those flowers. “And so the bees can’t get anything. I’ve never experienced this before,” says Marcel, while giving sugar water to his bees. “If I don’t do anything now, they’ll die this winter. Then they literally starve.”

As long as he and his colleague feed beekeepers, there is nothing to worry about. “Only I have to spend extra money on sugar and drive up and down more often to feed them.”

What we do notice is that there is hardly any heather honey (The honey collected from a purple flower called Heather, or Erica) this year. “This year the heather does not yield any honey,” says the beekeeper. “I didn’t go to the heath either, it’s just dust there. Normally, it should be wet when we put the bees on the heath and dry when they have made enough honey.”

Source: Omroep Brabant

Translated by: Shanthi Ramani

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