Blueberrytalk's Weblog

Everything connected to growing blueberries

Mason bee video

Posted by blueberrytalk on December 1, 2018


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Honey, Allergies and Asthma

Posted by blueberrytalk on October 30, 2018

A quick search through the internet to see what your local honey can do for you.

Honey can be used to treat coughing and the subsequent wheezing associated with asthma. According to ABC News, honey soothes the mucous membranes in your airways. Mucous accumulation in the bronchial tubes, better known as airway constriction, is one of the causes of asthma symptoms. ABC News reports that a study conducted by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine revealed that honey is effective in treating night-time coughing in children. The same type of coughing is associated with asthma.

An allergic response occurs when immune system proteins (antibodies) mistakenly identify a harmless substance, such as tree pollen, as an invader. In an attempt to protect your body from the substance, antibodies bind to the allergen.The chemicals released by your immune system lead to allergy signs and symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions. For some people, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms.

The idea behind eating honey is kind of like gradually vaccinating the body against allergens, a process called immunotherapy. Honey contains a variety of the same pollen spores that give allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. Introducing these spores into the body in small amounts by eating honey should make the body accustomed to their presence and decrease the chance an immune system response like the release of histamine will occur [source: AAFP]. Since the concentration of pollen spores found in honey is low — compared to, say, sniffing a flower directly — then the production of antibodies shouldn’t trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. Ideally, the honey-eater won’t have any reaction at all.

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Very dark late honey

Posted by blueberrytalk on October 11, 2018

The last honey of the season (from an unknown source) is dark and delicious.

late honey (2)

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Mountain Gordlinia

Posted by blueberrytalk on October 7, 2018

Late foraging opportunities  help prevent robbing.

sweet tea

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Early Heptacodium blossoms.

Posted by blueberrytalk on August 12, 2018

2018 heptacodium

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Mason bee in a Draper blossom

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 19, 2018

mason bee in Draper

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Storing Mason bee cocoons

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 16, 2018


A moist rag is used to raise the humidity above the normal fridge humidity. The reading on the humidity meter is too high so this rag should be replaced with a rag that is only partly moistened. The target humidity is 75%. The seal on the large container is good enough to maintain the same atmosphere for a length of time.

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Pollen from red cedars

Posted by blueberrytalk on March 11, 2018

Apis mellifera procuring pollen from thuja plicata.
After a long winter holed up in their hive, it’s nice to see the bees get out on a sunny day and gather food for their brood. I can’t imagine their emotional response, but it makes me happy.

cedar pollen

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Hardy Hummingbirds

Posted by blueberrytalk on February 24, 2018

This is the second winter we have enjoyed the company of several different hummingbirds.

IMG_6606 (2)

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The foraging habits of honeybees

Posted by blueberrytalk on December 3, 2017

When we heard that Black Locust honey was highly prized we planted Black Locust trees. The trees grew very tall and sent out suckers everywhere! I can’t recall over the years seeing honeybees foraging on Black Locust blossoms. A few bumblebees stopped by. Somewhere in the eastern US or Europe where there is a Black Locust forest and there are no other foraging choices honeybees will make Black Locust honey.

A frequent winner of honey tasting contests is sourwood honey. We planted some sourwood trees with high expectations. Over the years they have proved very popular with bumblebees. Honeybee visits are rare. Oh well, it’s there if they want it!

We happened upon the Heptacodium tree (or shrub). It blossoms for an entire month at the end of the season. It is loved by honeybees and bumblebees for both nectar and pollen. We have no idea as to what kind of honey is produced.

Honeybees will visit blueberry blossoms if it is their only choice! Once the blackberry blossoms open the honeybees will choose blackberry blossoms. I asked an old time beekeeper what the honeybees will do given a choice between blueberry blossoms and blackberry blossoms. He just laughed and said: ”blackberry!”  Late flowering blueberry varieties are hard to pollinate once the blackberry blossoms open. This is where Mason bees and worker bumblebees can be a big help!

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