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  1. #1
    Marksman

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    Beekeeping and the intricate dance with Mother Nature

    Pics at the end !

    The main honey flow in Louisiana usually ends somewhere during mid summer. After this time the main honey crop is extracted and this is truly when you find out how the bees performed. The weather plays a major part in this intricate dance between the bees and the flowers. There is no escaping Mother Nature. This year was average at best for honey production and for a lot of beekeepers it was way below average. In Louisiana we only had two real days of winter. The temps dropped into the 20’s and then after those two days we moved right back into mild temps. Two days of winter is no where near enough to get the chill hours needed to set up plants to bloom in the spring. Most people do not know this, but lots of plants need a certain amount of hours of cold weather to trigger them to bloom. Privet hedge which is a member of the ligustrum family is a perfect example for this. This plant, along with its kissing cousin the ligustrum in our yards, did not bloom this year in most parts of Louisiana. This was very significant because the bees use the nectar to build up for the main honey flow. The more bees you have to go get the nectar the better your honey crop will be. Another result of the mild winter temps were the early blooming of the tallow trees which is our main nectar producer. The bees did not build up very much in the spring since the privet did not bloom, and then the tallow trees bloomed two weeks early and our bee populations were low so a average to poor honey crop was made. On top of this we had large amounts of rain fall in some areas which washes the nectar from the blooms which reduces the amount of honey made and also keeps the bees in the hive. No fly, no honey! This is why all true bee keepers are serious weather watchers. As the summer marches on and we move into fall the bees collect nectar everyday all day but the pickings are much slimmer. They have to hit the wildflowers and ornamental plants to keep the nectar coming in so the hive can build some honey stores to make it through the winter. As September goes into October, the golden rod plant produces its beautiful yellow flowers which is a major score for the bees. This plant produces abundant nectar, but the honey from this is strong in taste and granulates much quicker than tallow honey. This is a great plant for bees to get some much needed nectar as the year progresses to winter. The bees must still be checked before it gets too cold as sometimes they still don’t have enough honey to get them through winter and you must feed them.
    By now you should have noted that this beekeeping pursuit is just like any type farming, a crap shoot. There are always winners and losers, but this doesn’t matter as the dance must always carry on. I’ve included a few pictures of the bee yard, some of the boxes being brought in for extraction, feeding the bees with a home made feeder, and a few pics from Connecticut and the Hammond research station of bees foraging on ornamental plants.


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    Last edited by Labeeman; November 14th, 2017 at 05:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Marksman

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    Thank you for this post good to know.
    Wingate

  3. #3
    Marksman Sniper56's Avatar
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    I learned some good information.

  4. #4
    Marksman Saintsfan6's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post! I had some of your delicious honey with breakfast this morning, what a good way to start the week! I have moved from BR to Texas and I noticed today Iím running DANGEROUSLY LOW on honey. Need to set up a shipping arrangement when you have more available!

  5. #5
    Marksman stag0608's Avatar
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    Good read! Thanks.


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  6. #6
    oldbie

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    LACamper's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    I can only imagine that the bees are not happy with you when you go take their honey...
    "Be water, my friend..."

  7. #7
    Ready, Shoot, Aim! CatCam's Avatar
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    fascinated by honey bees! Great info on a really neat creature. I'm teaching my kids about the importance of honey bees.

  8. #8
    Go away,Batin...
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    So let me ask this, does the type of plants actually effect the taste of the honey? The reason I ask was that when I was a kid, they had a few patches of Basswood trees and a local beekeeper stated that it made the best honey so he had boxes next to them. I never tasted the difference. Also now there is a company in baton rouge marketing "sugarcane honey" and "satsuma honey" again I cant taste the difference. Is this snake oil salesmanship or is it legit, I don't exactly have the best taste buds.
    I'm just a Redneck with too many guns.

  9. #9
    Marksman Trailboss's Avatar
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    How did you make that bucket feeder? Does that encourage robbing since it's outside the hive? My opinion of the tallow tree (also called the speed tree) is that it's only good for honey and fall color. It is a very quick-spreading invasive pest species and has changed ecosystems for the worse in many places in south LA by taking over as a monoculture and eliminating the native diverse plant communities.

    I kept bees from the mid 70s through the early 90s, but my 12 hives were hit hard by tracheal mites and mostly wiped out when the Varroa mites showed up. The infestations were exacerbated by my new job requiring travel for weeks at a time. I used to give most of the honey away to friends, family and co-workers. Now that I'm retired, and there are mite control methods developed, I toy with the idea of getting back into beekeeping with 2-3 hives, but the hive startup costs are shocking compared to back then. Still have the smokers, extractor and some tools.

    I'm also pre-diabetic, so my honey consumption has gone down. Not many things better than honey on hot biscuits. We went through gallons every year with breakfast and baking. I still always carry a small honey bear on the road for pancakes and waffles in restaurants. Waffle House will actually provide honey, but you have to ask for it.

    My uncle got me started with bees in NC when he raised them in the '60s and '70s. He would get a blue-colored huckleberry honey that folks accused him of adding food coloring. I helped extract it, so I knew better. When I had bees in south VA, I would sometimes get the water-clear sourwood honey that was very mild tasting, and would rarely granulate.
    "Incrementalism" is the weapon used by anti-gun forces to destroy the second amendment.
    "Compromise" is a negotiation term that can only be used one time - when you compromise a compromise, you have lost the entire issue.

    GOOD whisky never lets you loose your place

  10. #10
    Marksman

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    The type of plant definitely has an influence on the taste of the honey. Most of the time, in my humble opinion, it will be very subtle, but there are plants such a golden rod that makes nectar that has a very strong taste and smell that you really can notice. I have seen the honey you are talking about, but have not tasted it so can’t really say yea or nay about it. I have bees near sugarcane and have not seen them make much honey on it. They allegedly suck the juice from the cut cane and this is what is suspose to impart that taste in the honey. I did have some honey last year that did have that molasses taste, but I think some of the bees got into some old cane syrup we made and this is how it came about.

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    Last edited by Labeeman; November 14th, 2017 at 10:21 AM.

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