“Usually early spring feeding is February and then our bees will produce honey in this area up 'til about June or something like that,” Royal said. “I extract on July Fourth weekend, normally. The last two years because of the drought, it's been a little bit different.”
The production is another of the variables of beekeeping, Royal explained.
“It depends on how big the hive is and the area that it's located in,” he said. “You know you can move a hive four miles down the road and have a bumper crop as compared to having nothing four to six miles away.”
Royal tells people that the bees usually will produce at least one medium super of honey, which is about three or four gallons, or just under 60 pounds of honey, he said. A super is any hive body, or smaller box, used for the storage of surplus honey which the beekeeper will harvest. He's heard of much more being produced.
Besides producing honey and beeswax, bees can be linked to numerous crops such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, alfalfa and clover seed production and others, through pollination. Royal thinks the increasing canola production in Oklahoma will also lead to more bees in the state.
A new federal report by the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency blamed a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of U.S. honeybees since 2006.
The intertwined factors cited include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides.
The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what's called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one third of the nation's bees to just disappear each winter since 2006, according to an Associated Press story. Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops.
Royal isn't just concerned about bees for financial reasons. Instead he, like Richtmeyer after all these years, is still just amazed by the fascinating insects.
“I'm a guy that likes to learn all the time,” Royal said, “and these bees keep you intrigued.”
I'm a guy that likes to learn all the time and these bees keep you intrigued.”