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Archive for the ‘foraging’ Category

Honeybees favor blackberry blossoms

Posted by blueberrytalk on October 25, 2016

Honeybees forage in the blueberries until the blackberry blossoms open. In the picture below the honey on the left is blueberry blossom honey. It crystalizes very quickly into crystals that are so fine that it is like creamed honey. We like to take it off as soon as it is produced so that it doesn’t blend with the next honey which is blackberry honey.


The first blackberry blossoms appear well before the blueberry blossoms are over. The picture below was taken May 22. Draper blueberries are in bloom at this time and the Drapers begin to experience the migration of honeybee attention from blueberry blossoms to blackberry blossoms. We see few honeybees working in a late variety like Elliott.

The first blackberry variety sets out blossoms in a compressed period of time. You can see in the picture below that the second blossoms follow right on the heels of the first. It’s all over in a couple of weeks. The bees go right to it when it appears.


This leads right into the well known Himalayan blackberry which blossoms gradually over the next couple of months. You can see the lineup of buds in the picture below.


What can a grower do to help the pollination of late varieties? As the season progresses the wild bumblebee population explodes. We rely on worker bumblebees to pollinate the Elliott blossoms. Bumblebee populations can be increased by taking care of the environment they live in. But that’s another story!

Growers can also rely on Mason bees whose lifespan extends past the late blueberry varieties.

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Posted by blueberrytalk on September 14, 2012

It takes seven weeks after planting for flowers to show on the Cosmos but once they start to bloom the flowers keep coming. Cosmos is a late season foraging source for honeybees and bumblebees.


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High bee activity

Posted by blueberrytalk on August 26, 2012

The bees have discovered new sources of pollen and the Japanese Knotweed is a strong source of nectar. When you approach the apiary you hear a load buzz of bees coming and going. The white on the backs of some incoming bees is from the abundant pollen of the Hardy Hibiscus.

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English Laurel – 2012

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 6, 2012

The big load of pollen on the bee tells you what the bees are after in the Laurel. After blossoming we plan to prune back the Laurel to see if new shoots and blossoms appear later in the year.

English Laurel blossoms

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Foraging sources for bees

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 4, 2012

We have endeavored to build an inventory of bee foraging sources within one kilometre of our blueberry farm. This will let us know if the bees have enough food throughout the season. The inventory is in three parts in the links below.

Some flowers are described in more detail if they are listed under the categories on the left.

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February Heather

Posted by blueberrytalk on February 8, 2012

The bees are mostly in the heather for nectar but they do bring back some pollen. The honeybee in the picture has some pollen but it is small compared to the pollen loads from the Hazelnut trees.

Kramer's Red Heather

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A honeybee treat

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 26, 2011

A field of deciduous holly (Ilex Verticillatta) has the honeybees all abuzz. Since all the blossoms are open at once this will be a short diversion.

Ilex Verticillata

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Pollen from oak blossoms

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 21, 2011

A honeybee flies off with a load of pollen from the oak blossoms.

oak flowers and acorns

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Maple blossom nectar

Posted by blueberrytalk on April 22, 2011

Maple blossoms

The Maple blossoms come just before the blueberry blossom. A row of maples along the farm perimeter helps the colonies build up for blueberry pollination.

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Ilex Verticillata (a deciduous holly)

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 13, 2010

Over an acre of Ilex Verticillata is located less than a kilometre from our apiary. Bees go from flower to flower seeking nectar during the concentrated flowering of this popular nectar source. 

holly blossoms

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