Southern Seasonal Beekeeping Insights

By Dennis Brown, Lone Star Farms,
Author of Beekeeping: A Personal Journey and Beekeeping: Questions and Answers

Here in Texas and many other parts of the South, beekeepers depend on the tallow tree for their main honey flow this time of year. Unfortunately, the state of Texas lists the tallow tree as an invasive species and does its best to remove it when possible. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, during my commercial beekeeping days, the tallow tree was very abundant south of Houston all the way down to the gulf coast. Today, you might find 10% of the tallow trees left in those areas. The tree has been removed for agricultural needs, residential building and of course from the state’s crack down on the tallow species.

For those of us who have depended on the tallow tree for needed surplus honey, we are currently moving our bees into the tallow areas. The flow in our area usually starts around the 20th of May and will last around three weeks if the weather conditions have been good.

We will spend most of June pulling the honey surplus off the hives and getting it extracted. For the small operator, this tallow flow is what they depend on for their beekeeping income for the year. If they don’t make a good tallow surplus, they will have to wait until the next year and try again. The larger operator will truck their bees out of Texas after the tallow flow to other parts of the country. They usually chase the different honey flows around the country to maximize their income.

With good beekeeping skills, good weather and a good nectar source, beekeeping can be fun and profitable. Enjoy your bees.

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