Sunday, March 23, 2014
Sunday Reading - Elms, Henbit and Dead Nettle in Bloom
It's a bit too cold for the girls to do much flying and foraging today although a few hardy ones are out and about. Yesterday however was perfect flying temps for them and they were out hitting the various Elms and working the Henbit which just started to bloom.
One thing is for sure as a Bee Keeper your perception of just what's in bloom becomes much more focused and at least for me I start counting the days and projects more by the bloom dates than anything else.
I think the Elm trees are a lot like Oaks around here and we tend to get a number of cross breeds occasionally. The picture up top is of Slippery Elm blooms which are going well right now while the English and American Elm flowers are beginning to dry up. Since the Dutch Elm Disease killed off so many Elms the last few decades many cities and private home owners have been planting all sorts of exotic Elm trees, some not much more than shrubs. So we will get various Elm blooms for weeks during March and April.
Henbit and Dead Nettle are often confused with each other. If I remember right the Henbit leaves are fully attached to the central stem while the Dead Nettle leaves are on a stem of their own. Otherwise these two weeds with purple flowers look almost identical. I noticed the first patch of them yesterday in a ditch and over the next few weeks the fields will begin showing huge patches of these purple flowers.
Neither the Elms nor the Henbit/Dead Nettle are what you would call important honey flow blooms. The Elms are self pollinating but produce a large amount of pollen that the bees use to make food for the larva (Called Bee Bread which is just pollen and honey mixed together). The Elm pollen is important because it is usually the first good pollen crop that coincides with days warm enough for the bees to forage it. This large inflow of pollen signals the queen to start laying for the Spring buildup. Henbit and Dead Nettle do produce nectar but not in large amounts, however it means some new nectar is also coming in. Typically when these species begin doing their thing around here it is time to breath a big sigh of relief because by now it's pretty certain any hive that made it this far is out of danger unless there is a fluke freakish cold snap.
Soon, Very soon, the Maples and Red Buds will begin blooming. We don't get a lot of real Maples around here but the BoxElders can sometimes be a very important nectar tree and the Eastern Redbud certainly is. More on them in a week or so I imagine.
Too bad we have hit another cold snap for the next few days or I would go climb an Elm to try and get some pictures of the girls working them.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!