Last month Irish news outlets including RTÉ and the Irish Independent had several reports of the disappointing weather, but how was it for your bees?
We recently posted a blog about a model our team are developing to provide a measure of the quality and quantity of foraging time available to our bees in Ireland based on local meteorological conditions. If you missed it, you can read the April Foraging Conditions blog here.
We wanted to see if the poor weather conditions reported in May were reflected in our model and how that varied across the country.
We had certainly noticed the poor weather at our research apiary in Co. Cork, with 172.7mm rain measured at the Met Éireann weather station at Cork airport in 2021 compared to 68.8mm last year and only 41mm in 2019.
Temperatures were also lower than usual across the country this May, for example, the lowest temperature recorded in May was -4°C at the Mount Dillon, Co. Roscommon station on the 6th of May, the lowest May temperature on record there while the average temperature of 9°C recorded at Markree, Co. Sligo was 1.9°C below the long-term average for May.
Our model shows that meteorological foraging conditions were worse than their long-term average countrywide in May.
You can see this in Figure 1 which shows the results of our model for May 2021 compared to the average for the previous 10 years, using historical Met Éireann weather data from around the country. The whole country is shaded blue, indicating that although some areas were further below average than others, May was a poor foraging month for Irish bees countrywide.
To allow for a direct comparison we have also included the results for 2019 in Figure 2, which shows how foraging conditions were significantly better then.
Of course, there are many other at factors at play here for the bees beyond the weather including the forage available locally. Did you notice the poor weather conditions for foraging in May?
Have you noticed that the build-up of your colonies has been slower than in other years, or have you had to provide more supplementary feed to achieve the usual levels of colony size for this time of the year?
We have also heard fewer anecdotal reports of wild swarms in our area of Co. Cork this year. Does the same hold true for your area? Share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure you don’t miss any updates from the team here at ApisProtect, sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay informed about all things bees and beekeeping.