In Australia's extreme conditions, honey bee hives may require nutritional management when quality nectar and pollen aren't readily available within a few kilometres of the hive.
La Nia conditions continue to prove challenging for humans and hives alike.
Starvation can affect hives at any time of the season if nectar isn't available and malnutrition can happen even if nectar is in abundance, but pollen is of poor quality or low in quantity.
Many beekeepers in areas with intense and prolonged rainfall have to consider supplemental feeding hives in order to keep them healthy and prevent starvation.
Remember, if it's raining, honey bees are staying home and eating their reserves, taking care of the queen, developing bees, and regulating temperature and humidity in the hive, unable to go outside and forage for fresh nectar and pollen and replenish their food stores.
Nectar is their critical carbohydrate source which, when available in abundance, worker bees store and ripen into honey.
Pollen provides most of the protein, amino acids, fats, vitamins and mineral requirements of a bee's diet.
Hives must contain fresh nectar or stored honey, critical in cooler parts of the year as worker bees eat honey or nectar to give them the energy they need to generate heat to keep the hive warm through cold periods.
Ensure enough honey is left on the hive during any time of the season when flowering nectar sources are not available and especially in preparation for winter.
This requirement will vary from location to location and is best determined through experience and with the help of local beekeepers.
Historically, NSW, VIC and SA temperate zone beekeepers would ensure their hives were prepared to survive through winter by having enough honey stores packed away in each hive by Anzac Day, April 25.
This is earlier for cold temperate Tassie beekeeping and later for subtropical Northern NSW and QLD.
Like many things in beekeeping, this date is only a general rule, particularly in a country that has some Eucalyptus species flowering into winter like Mugga Ironbark and Grey Box.
Autumn is a critical time to assess hive food stores and if they're sufficient to last through winter and yield a healthy hive on the other side.
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