Effect of drought and bush fires on urban beekeeping

To the best of my knowledge and talking to the most experienced beekeepers in our region, if you were beekeeper last three years in Canberra, you would be experiencing the best and the worst beekeeping conditions our climate can offer.
Just three years ago with my best efforts to stop my bees swarming they all did swarm and in one case the colony that started as a swarm that year swarmed itself in just 8 weeks. Not to mentioned that I averaged 90kg of honey per colony.
Forward that two years to the current beekeeping season using the same swarm managing technique only one of my colonies has swarmed and I’ll be lacky to extract 30kg of honey per colony. My colonies are still healthy and strong, and they will have enough honey for themselves in winter. Unfortunately, unless we get lot of rain by end of February, I am afraid honey situation will stay the same.
I am observing in my inspections that bees are bringing much less pollen. In my garden they are collecting pollen from the sources they would never touch in the past, probably due to low protein content. There is also less brood, and the wet brood is not swimming in royal jelly either.
One issue that that I would like our forum members to comment is do you experience change of quality of honey this year, and can you smell/taste smoke in your honey?
I’ll extract my honey soon and will share my experience with you.
Cheers

Hi, it is funny that you mention “in the last three years” as I commenced my beekeeping journey in December 2016. I’m out at Wamboin and I have noticed a significant difference in my hives between this time last year and now. My last inspection revealed low brood numbers across all of my hives and barely any pollen appears to be coming in. Any plans I had this season of harvesting honey have been put on hold. It has certainly been a very tough time for all living creatures out our way so I am simply grateful my girls are managing to hold on.

I don’t think what we are seeing is unusual. Bees have a remarkable ability to adjust their activities according to the season. Why else do we see the queen reduce and even stop laying in winter… Fact is that the hot dry weather has not only reduced flowering and pollen and nectar availability in the field but people are not watering gardens with a consequent reduction in pollen and nectar. The flowering processes in plants is quite sensitive to drought and other stress conditions. The girls really are doing it hard.
It will be difficult to consider quality changes when as you report and we have observed the content made up of different species will vary. Smoke and taste effects will be interesting.
It would be interesting to know what the smoke is doing to their every day activities and processes. I don’t share you hope that rain before February will change he situation.