Oxford Bees

Forage

Pollen Colours - Early June

Submitted by will on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 22:26
Pollen - Early June

The monotone beige of the tree pollen has given way to more diverse colours. I think that there are 8 colours in the image. I haven't tried to identify the flowers which these pollen come from.

This sample of pollen colours comes from my apiary in central Oxford. There are parks and college gardens nearby so some of the flowers may be non-native.

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Pollen as food for the bees

Submitted by will on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 21:38

Pollen is the high protein food which the bees use to make food for their brood. If you see pollen coming into the hive then it's reasonable to assume that there is brood being reared in the hive.

The bees visit flowers and collect the pollen in 'baskets' of hairs behind their hind legs. We can see these 'baskets' as bright patches on the legs of returning bees. The lumps of pollen sometimes get dropped and fall to the floor of the hive where they can be examined.

Pollen is an indicator of which flowers are in bloom at any time. It isn't a guarantee that the bees are getting nectar from those flowers. Nectar flow can vary by plant and conditions. Wind pollinated plants produce no nectar at all (as far as I know).

Pollen can also be eaten by humans if you like that sort of thing. I know one small person who likes it. It has a pleasant, subtle flavour -- sometimes with an aroma of the flower. You won't get well fed on it though. The amount of pollen in each basket is tiny.

 

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Submitted by will on Sat, 02/06/2018 - 22:19

The trees have finished their blossom: Hawthorn and Horse Chestnut.

In their place there is abundant Buttercup and Elder in flower.

There are also very many varieties of hedgerow wild flowers (seen near Stanton Harcourt). I've seen daisies, climbing roses and different Umbilifers. I doubt whether many of these are within the forage area of either of my apiaries.

Submitted by will on Sat, 14/10/2017 - 21:29

It's mid-October. The weather is supposed to be cooling but that's not what we're getting. Ex-Hurricane Ophelia is on its' way, bringing high winds and high temperatures. In Oxford we're forecast to get 40mph winds (fearties! fearties!) and 20C temperatures. The average October temperature is 10.1C (source: /node/191).

The weather must be helping the bees to forage because Hive H shows the tell-tale white wax platelets on the hive floor. These indicatethat they're building new comb.

October is also a time when there are some sources of nectar and pollen available. Ivy, Michaelmas Daisy; Evening Primrose and Golden Rod are in, or have recently been in, flower. The most significant is probably Ivy which can produce significant amounts of nectar. It isn't very nice honey to eat and it sets in the comb but it's useful for the bees.

I hope that this means that Hive H will survive the winter in good order.

The colour of honey

Submitted by will on Sun, 25/06/2017 - 08:22
two colours of honey in one jar

I recently took some honey from Hive A. Most came out as comb but there were also a couple of jars.

Yesterday I returned to Hive A. Some time ago I had put some broken comb pieces onto the crown board. In the usual way the bees had built a large slab of comb around it it and started to fill it. I cleaned up the crown board and then hung the crunched comb in mesh bag overnight.

The honey drained into a jam funnel and into a jar. After filling one jar I started top up a half empty jar which contained honey mentioned in my first paragraph. The two honeys didn't mix, leaving a contrasting layer.

I'm not sure why there is a difference in colour. The lighter honey probably was made during a nectar flow and may be largely monofloral - perhaps from the Horse Chestnut trees which flower around here in spring. The darker honey was there for quite a while and may have been hotter and from a wider variety of plants.

Not Lime Time after all

Submitted by will on Thu, 15/06/2017 - 22:13

The Limes are flowering in Headington. The Limes are flowering in Oxford. There are no bees on any of them.

I'm told that Limes only give nectar when the conditions are right. It has to have rained (which it hasn't recently) and it has to be humid (which it isn't ). These two presumably go together. The result is that Limes are only said to yield approximately every 7 years.

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