Blueberrytalk's Weblog

Everything connected to growing blueberries

Archive for July, 2008

Bumblebees and Anise Hyssop

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 21, 2008

More bumblebees are finding the Anise hyssop every day. It is important to provide foraging opportunities for the bumblebees so that there will be lots of bumblebees next spring. This is the time of year when there could be a shortage of nectar sources for the bumblebees.

Bumblebees prefer the Anise hyssop and Comfrey. Both of these plants should continue right through to the fall. Meanwhile the honeybees are foraging on blackberry and fireweed. Both of these plants last for several weeks. The honeybees are also on the clover which will last to the end of the season.

Here are some pictures of bumblebees enjoying Anise hyssop. Click on pictures to enlarge.


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Anise hyssop in flower

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 7, 2008

The easy part of starting Anise hyssop is the germination and transplanting. The hard part is convincing chewing insects and slugs that this is not their favorite meal. There is some loss at this point but the advantage is that blossoming can be expected to continue right through to frost. This plant has appeal to both honeybees and bumblebees.

Anisse hyssop

Anise hyssop

We are hoping the mint flavour of the hyssop will combine with our other nectar sources to provide some distinctive honey.

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Roses, Love in a Mist

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 6, 2008

There are many garden flowers the bees enjoy. With a nursery next door it’s hard to imagine the varied diet of our bees. Here are a couple of examples from our garden. We are always looking for new plants that the bees like.

Roses for pollen
Roses, pollen
    Love in a Mist

Love in a Mist


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Cat’s ear

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 6, 2008

Cat’s ear looks like a dandelion but it is distinctive by the many flowers that grow on single stem. Dandelions grow just one flower on a hollow stem. Cat’s ears have “hairy” leaves and their stems are almost like twigs. Cat’s ears are considered an undesirable weed because of the way they take over in a pasture and the wind blown seeds can spread this weed everywhere. In the picture below you can see the numerous flowers on a single stem.

Cat\'s ear


In this picture you can see the pollen on the bee’s face as it visits a Cat’s ear flower. Honeybees show a moderate interest in this plant.

bee on Cat\'s ear

bee and pollen

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Posted by blueberrytalk on July 6, 2008

Patches of fireweed have just come into bloom adding to the variety of foraging sources for honeybees.


fireweed blossom  

bee on fireweed

bee on fireweed

Fireweed grows further north than any other major honey plant. Fireweed has adapted to climates from mountain heights to coastal plains, from Alaska to California. The Pacific Northwest has ideal climate conditions for this royal premium honey producing plant. The higher in elevation the honey is collected in the hive, the clearer the honey color. Some fireweed honey can be as colorless as water.

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Posted by blueberrytalk on July 2, 2008

Sumac flowers are highly desired by honeybees. I can’t recall seeing bumblebees visiting sumac flowers. A Sumac will send up new shoots from it’s wide spreading root system so it easy to establish and start new plants. It is vulnerable to the same boring insects that bother willows.

Sumac flower

Sumac flower

Dried sumac flowers are the best fuel for a bee smoker. The fire does not die out and it burns at a steady rate.

   dried sumac flower    bee smoker Sumac in a bee smoker.

Sumac for smoker fuel is a hint courtesy Jaquie Bunse of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

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