In the past year the panhandle has been on the receiving end of record breaking rainfall and more recently freezing temperatures. These weather factors have a direct impact on what type of local honey will be in stores and the quantity available.
According to bee farmer Bert Gwaltney, bees like their hives in the winter a lot like people like their homes, a consistent 70 degrees or higher with 50-60% humidity. In order to survive the freeze Gwaltney says bees huddle in the hive and shake to produce heat.
If the colony is weak, they may not last through the cold snaps. In November bee keepers begin winter preparations by giving the hives sugar syrup and place extra honey frames in the hives so the bees have a strong source of energy.
Gwaltney says the little workers don't hibernate through the winter. Instead they work until temperature dip below 50 or it's dark out. This year is leading off with extreme cold but according to bee keeper Bert Gwaltney, last year the bees faced other issues that impacted production and sales, "We had about a half of a season. Because we didn't make the honey we usually make. Weather was bad last year, when the tupelo come in it stormed windy blew it all off and wet the nectar."
Gwaltney says he will know the full impact of this winters freeze in late January and early February.