The summer heatwave has transformed the fortunes of beekeepers in Tipperary’s Vale of Honey with bumper yields making up for some horrendous years.
While the weather may have turned, the crucial period for beekeepers was July and the high temperatures that prevailed was a godsend for beekeepers and allowed them make up for some woeful years.
“The weather exceeded all expectations” said a delighted Gerry Ryan from Dundrum who said the heatwave had made up for two disastrous winters.
“If that good weather did not arrive we would have been wiped out. We were looking at 50 to 70% losses last year and the last two years had cost us twenty nine colonies out of fifty. Now because of the good weather we are back up operating at the fifty colonies which is wonderful,” said Gerry who keeps bees with his wife Mary. “We are both retired and keeping bees is a passion for both of us. It’s a lot of hard work and you have to have a love for it”, said Gerry. They are both lecturers in beekeeping and travel the country giving workshops and demonstrations.
Denis Ryan of Powerstown, Clonmel is another beekeeper delighted with the turnaround. “We suffered a lot in previous years because of the weather. We are going to have a very good yield because of the heat we experienced over the last few weeks. It was exceptional weather and makes up for the last two or three years,” said Denis. He has been making honey for thirty years and this year was the best by far since the bumper year of 1989.
“July is the most critical month and we need a good temperature and we got plenty of that and the main foraging source was blackberry and that was in abundance in every hedgegrow. With good management you can still get a reasonable return in poor weather. Last year I had a return of 62lbs per hive and you need a return of up to 30lbs to break even because of the costs involved concerning disease control and acquiring sugar for winter feeding. This year the return per hive will be double that of last year”.