The New England bee season is in full swing. The bees are back from apple pollination in
MA, New York, and New Hampshire, and they are now settled in our MA beeyards. Bees
are looking great, building up quickly, and many hives are already exceptionally strong
colonies. We are currently getting into the rhythm of honey season; placing honey supers
out, and getting the bees well equipped with plenty of space to bring in that amazing
MA honey! The Buckthorn nectar flow is on, and it is keeping our bees busy. Black Locust
came in quick and ended with rain knocking off the delicate flowers.
Our season in Massachusetts to produce honey is getting very short. It all happens in
about six weeks; from mid May to the first week in July. After that, it dries up until
August, when Button Bush, Goldenrod and Clethra open up; but they may or may not yield
nectar. Purple Loosestrife was the perfect plant to fill in that gap from July till
September, and to keep the bees well fed and building. Unfortunately, Purple loosestrife
is an invasive plant, and several years ago, numerous state, town, federal, and other
environmental groups started bringing in beetles from Europe that naturally fed on Purple
Loosestrife. Since then, we started seeing a loss in our honey production, and change
on the health of bees going into winter. We have not seen a good flow of nectar and
pollen from Purple Loosestrife in about six years.
Beeyard in Sudbury
Making the connection between flowers (nutrition) and bee health: Insect pollinators need
to have a successive source of protein and carbohydrates thru out the growing season, to
over-winter and prosper the following year. Purple Loosestrife starts blooming end of June
to beginning of September. Bees start raising winter bees in August. So, these plants gave
the bees the needed nutrition for winter build-up. With the eradication of Purple
Loosestrife, our bees and other pollinating insects have lost a rich nutrition source.
Now, Phragmites, which is also an invasive plant with no nutrition relevance (pollen/
nectar), has taken over the wetlands that it was previously filled with Loosestrife.
I will be writing more on this subject in the coming months. Right now, we are trying to
keep-up with the bees, and doing our rounds thru our beeyards.
In Georgia, we made a good crop of Gallberry Honey. Unfortunately, Tupelo did not yield a
crop this season due to the flooded rivers and sloughs.