On the week of February 16 thru 19, Southeast Georgia blueberry growers experienced record setting cold temps; in the low 20’s during the night. Southern highbush blueberries have been in bloom with honeybee colonies present in the fields to pollinate the flowers. To protect the fragile flowers from damage, growers used water sprinkler systems during freezing conditions. Sprinklers were on for over 48 hours straight. As a result, huge amounts of ice formed on the bushes, and many collapsed as a result of the ice.
We were out in the fields breaking ice from the front of our bee colonies to allow them to have ventilation. Early reports from a few of our growers say they may have a 40 percent crop loss due to the prolonged cold, and the amount of ice that formed on the bushes; but time will tell as the season progresses. Driving by some blueberry fields yesterday, ice was still present in the field with a day time temp in the mid 70 F. This weekend daytime highs are in the upper 70 F, and the bees are back foraging for pollen and nectar.
Watch a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt8eQErEX04&feature=youtu.be