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Archive for June, 2008

Himalayan blackberries

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 29, 2008

In southern British Columbia, as elsewhere, roadsides are often covered with blackberries that have just come into bloom. This provides an excellent foraging opportunity for bees. The most common blackberry has a large oval leaf and it’s fruit is large and sweet. The berries make excellent jelly.

blackberry in bloom   roadside blackberry

Around the farm perimeter there is another blackberry with a quite different leaf whose fruit is not so large or flavourful.

    blackberry….click to enlarge.

The blackberries come at a time when the black locust are still in blossom, there is a abundance of clover and there are still some blueberries in blossom. It’s honey flow time!

Try this link:Blackberry Honey, the premier nectar!

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Black locust

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 17, 2008

Just as the local blackberry blossoms reach their peak the Black Locust shows it’s first blossoms. Black Locusts (Robinia Pseudoacacia) are tall fast growing trees that are renowned for the honey they produce.

R. pseudoacacia honey is regarded as one of the world’s finest. The slowly granulating honey is water-white, heavy bodied, fine flavoured with high fructose and low enzyme content. Tree improvement for late flowering and nectar sugar content is going on in Hungary and America. Source:AgroForestryTree Database

     Black locust blossoms     Black locust tree    Black locust flowers and tree

The Black Locust follows the rhododendron, blueberry, blackberry and clover in the quest to make sure there is continuous forage for the bees.

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Little bee with a big heart

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 16, 2008

When this little wild bee was found she was right inside a blueberry blossom. Notice the white blueberry pollen on her back leg. Campare this bee with a honeybee alongside a blueberry blossom.

Tiny wild bee    Click on image to enlarge.   honeybee and blueberry blossom

The wild bee was caught in a jar and put in the fridge for a few moments to slow her down. She slowed down enough to pose for this picture. As soon as the picture was taken the bee began to stir and then flew off to continue her work.

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Carniolan and Italian honeybees

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 16, 2008

Most of the bees in the Apiary are a cross between The Carniolan and Italian honeybee. Some bees will favour one or the other parentage. The first picture shows the typical bee cross. Notice that the bee is loaded with grey pollen from the blackberry blossoms. The second picture shows a bee that favours the Italian background and the bee in the third picture looks very Carniolan. All the bees are from the same Apiary. The colour of bees in a hive can change as the queen uses semen from a different drone she has mated with.

       Bee in blackberry blossoms. Pollen is grey,

         This bee favours Italian parentage.

        Bee that is Carniolan in appearance.

The blackberry blossoms have passed their peak. The blackberries that most people are familiar with will blossom soon as the buds are swollen and ready to open. But that deserves a post of it’s own.

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Honeybees AWOL

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 15, 2008

Pollination is complete for most blueberries. The duke variety has fruit that is well formed. The Dukes pollinate well with most berries maturing to a good size. Click on pictures to enlarge.

               Duke blueberries.

Elliot blueberries are still showing a lot of blossom but the only pollinator on the Elliots are worker bumblebees.

            worker bumblebee Elliot blueberry  Worker bumblebee on Elliot flower.

Meanwhile the honeybees, instead of working the blueberries, are visiting  the clover and the blackberry blossoms.

             Italian bee visiting blackberry blossoms.

By now there are lots of bumblebee workers to pollinate the Elliot blueberries. If there are 100 bumblebee queens in April and if each queen can produce 50 workers then around this time in the season there could be 5000 workers to pick up the slack when the honeybees are enticed elsewhere.

Posted in Bumblebees, pollination | 2 Comments »

Blackberries-a sea of white

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 8, 2008

The blackberries that have spread in Pitt Meadows have many more blossoms than the usual blackberry. They are thornless and the fruit is small and not very tasty. The blossoms come early, just about at the end of the blueberry pollination. They can spread quickly sending up new shoots a long way from the parent plant. They don’t expand by layering like the usual thorned blackberry.

                 click to enlarge

                     Blackberries in bloom

Notice in the first picture the upright stems for next season. They don’t arch over and layer like other blackberries. In the second picture you can see that there are many more blossoms waiting to open.

The buzz of the honeybee can be heard near the blackberries but bumblebees don’t seem to show any interest.

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Anise Hyssop update

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 5, 2008

This is a progress report on the anise hyssop we planted from seed and the self seeding in our anise hyssop bed. We are relying on this plant to keep the honeybees and bumblebees going through the summer and fall. The hyssop started in the greenhouse transplanted easily into pots. The roots disentangle easily and the transplants establish without difficulty in a new location.

      Annise Hyssop             hyssop in pots

In the field the seeds cast from last year’s seed pods germinated readily filling in the space around the mature plants. These plants will be flowering soon. The before and after pictures below show the progress over 5 weeks.

     hyssop from seed      self seeded hyssop 

Click on the pictures to enlage.

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