Tag Archives: Bee Research

Plants for bees

Like most years, we kicked off 2015 by looking through the litany of seed catalogs that arrive in our mailbox.  We usually leaf through and select  a few vegetables for the garden, maybe a few annual flowers.  But this year, we have a new goal in mind: maximizing our crop potential while also providing great plants for our bees.

We started by cracking open our ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture book and researching plants that provide loads of pollen and nectar for our tiny winged friends.  Below are some plants that we decided to try out this year (in addition to others we already have established) with some details about how they impact our bee brethren.

Thyme

Plants for bees - Thyme

Thyme itself is a great herb that you can use either fresh or dried, and is often paired with other herbs like oregano, sage, or rosemary.  You can typically find it in recipes including pork, duck, lamb, and in Cajun and Creole cooking.

Thyme honey is popular in Greece and the Mediterranean where it’s been a favorite for thousands of years.  The honey has a reddish color and a strong flavor.

Sunflowers

Plants for bees - Sunflowers

Sunflowers and beekeepers apparently go way back, as the plants produce abundant amounts of nectar and pollen that are great for the bees.  The variety that we selected are known for producing large amounts of sunflower seeds as well, which we plan to enjoy throughout the season.

One word of caution about sunflowers: honey produced from sunflower nectar tends to crystalize more rapidly than some other plants, so you may need to harvest it as soon as possible.

Sage

Plants for bees - Sage

Sage is another herb with tons of uses that we just started experimenting with last year.

Sage honeys tend to be lighter in color and lower in moisture content, and is often blended with honey from other plants to improve the overall quality of the blend.

Unlike Sunflowers, sage honey is high in fructose and therefore is very slow to solidify.

Soybeans

Plants for bees - Soybeans

Like sage, honey from soybeans is also used in blends thanks to its light color and mild taste.

Soybeans are self-fertile plants, so honey bees aren’t necessary for pollination, but considering we like soybeans regardless, we figure it may be a win-win.

Blackberries

Plants for bees - Blackberries

We’re most interested in seeing how our blackberry plants perform considering that bees are required for pollination.  The variety we selected should flower in both the spring and late summer, and the abundant white flowers that they produce are ideal sources of nectar and pollen for bees.

We’ll be sure to do a follow-up post this fall to let everyone know how these plants worked (or didn’t) with the bees.

Books for Beekeepers

Books for Beekeepers

Thanks to a lot of the research that we’ve been doing, as well as the recent holidays, we’re starting to build a mini “bee library” of sorts.  Obviously there are a TON of books and information available about beekeeping, but we figured we’d share some thoughts on a few of our favorites thus far.

Books for Beekeepers

Beekeeping Book - Keeping Honey Bees

Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees

This book was not only recommended to us by our local beekeeping community, but is also referenced in a number of other books we’ve read as well.

It does a really good job of covering all of the basics of beekeeping: from planning, to acquiring bees, to keeping your bees healthy, to harvesting honey.  It’s all in there.

If you’re going to purchase one beekeeping book, this should probably be it.

Beekeeping Book - Homegrown Honey BeesHomegrown Honey Bees

This book was given to us as a gift during the holidays, and has been a pleasant addition to the mix.

It differs from Storey’s in that it focuses purely on what you’ll come across during your first year as a beekeeper.  The chapters are even broken into chunks like “The First Month”, “The First Season”, etc.

Packed with tons of highly detailed photos, this is one we’ll definitely be referring to again and again this upcoming season.

Bee Book - Honey Crafting

Honey Crafting

Rumor has it that a single hive can produce 40-60 pounds of honey in a single season.  That’s a lot of honey!  Even if we gave some to everyone we know, we’d still be left with more than we could consume ourselves.

Enter “Honey Crafting” by Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes.  This book is structured like a cookbook for all the different things you can do with honey and beeswax.

From creating items for your home (ornaments, candles, etc.), to items for the body (soaps, lip balms, etc.), to delectable edibles (infused honey, savory and sweet recipes), this book provides over 75 different uses for your harvest.

This is one we plan on using for decades to come.

Beekeeping Book - ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture

ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture

Talk about everything you ever wanted to know about beekeeping!  This book was first published in 1877 and has over 40 editions that  have been released since then.

Over time the publishers have compiled an encyclopedia of information ranging from famous beekeepers to hive disorders to plants for bees and everything in between.  Simply flip open this book and you’re almost guaranteed to land on a page that will teach you something about beekeeping that you never knew before.

Where else can you learn about the effect of magnetic and electrical fields on bees immediately followed by information about mason bees?

These are just a few of our favorite beekeeping books so far.  What are some of yours?