Summer Time

Posted by Andy Reseska on 7/21/2014 to Notes from the Beeyard

It is mid July, and we are in the beginning days of our summer dearth in MA. That is a time when very little pollen and even less nectar is coming in. Currently, the Basswood (Linden trees) is finishing their bloom, and the bees are bringing in a little pollen from grasses and minor wildflowers.

As commercial beekeepers, we are always looking for the bloom that will sustain and nourish our bees. I know it sounds like a broken record when we talk about the loss of Purple Loosestrife. But, there was a time when Purple Loosestrife was abundant and in bloom during July and August. It was like a beekeeper’s utopia: The bees in full flight gathering copious amounts of nectar and pollen, drawing out wax in new honey supers, with colonies needing a step ladder to reach the top, full supers of honey for us to harvest, and abundant reserves for the bees to consume during the winter months.What is so disheartening to all of this, is that within the wetlands space that Purple Loosestrife once occupied, now grows Phragmites, also an invasive plant; a reed that has no value to pollinating insects or other wildlife. So, what was the point to do all of this without seeing the whole picture, and not having a realistic perspective of the whole ecosystem? The intentions to restore fragmented ecosystems back to a date in time of whenever? It is noble, but is it realistic? Increases in population and development pushes available pollinating insect’s forage to smaller plots of undevelopable land and disturbed soils, where Buckthorn, Russian Olive, Black Locust, Spotted Knapweed, Purple Loosestrife, and few other wild flowering plants thrive. These plants are vital for a healthy bee population. Honeybees and other pollinating insects have come to rely on invasive plants that have adapted to the fragmented and altered landscapes. Perhaps, it is time for less human intervention and more adaptation to our ever so changing environment.

Bee well,