Sunday, October 12, 2008

Native forage for the bees; floral honey

I found a little capped summer honey (8 pounds) on the hives, and we extracted it this week.  It tastes different from any other honey I have harvested from Loretta and Dolly.  It is very, very floral and not at all what I usually call "spicy."  You can't taste it without making some "oh my" exclamation.  I am thrilled by the taste of all my honey, but this one is just so different; I may have to keep this harvest for home use or very special gifts.  

You can see how busy the bees are this weekend.  The entrance to each hive was a flurry of activity.  The long, slow rain on Saturday was a great boost to the native flowers that the bees depend on this time of year, and they are out in full force today to take advantage of the new blossoms.  Here you see bees on the yellow seaside goldenrod and the white flowered groundsel (also known as "mullet bush" down here on the island).  For once the girls are foraging for nectar and pollen right here in their own backyard on these two marsh plants.

Each hive still has one honey super remaining on top of the queen excluder.  Dolly's super is partially filled and capped, so it is likely we will have a late fall honey harvest from those bees.  Loretta's is empty, except for fully drawn comb (wax comb built out to full depth, ready for honey).  It it unlikely there will be honey to harvest there, but they are so busy that I left it on, but only for a couple of weeks.  Both hives have 3 medium brood boxes with honey backfilled for winter, so I do not anticipate they will need any honey they place in the supers.  Last year they had so much honey left over in the spring from the three medium brood boxes that it caused a logjam in the hives; and they swarmed rather than producing spring honey.  I hope that will not be a problem again in spring 2009.  For now they are active and beautiful and a joy to watch.  The marsh was alive with foraging honeybees and native bees and wasps.