Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Busy Bees

Honey bees have had a rough year here in Kentucky. First they headed into last winter after a long, brutal drought. Then the winter was long, cold and snowy (the best kind of winter ;-). Then it rained and rained and rained all spring. All cold spring.

The sun finally came out and the white clover kicked into high gear and we watched bees work it like crazy all summer...but the hives weren't overflowing with honey (?). Then another drought, luckily a shorter one, but still the fall honey flow wasn't looking promising either.



Stella and I worked the honey booth at the Kentucky State Fair in August and in talking to a fellow beekeeper learned about planting a fall crop of buckwheat. We bought out the dredges of the local seed store and listened to how it was too late to plant and just nodded out heads. We weren't hoping to harvest the buckwheat. We just wanted it to bloom for our bees.

And boy howdy did it!



This cute bee is stepping from one bloom to another. As always, click to biggify.



Look at this one burrowing into some hidden blooms.



Bees of all shapes and sizes. Look at the pollen tucked away on her knees.



This was not the smallest bee out there. Some teeny, tiny bees were darting in and out, too quick for my eye.

It's a happy little plot of buckwheat and one of my best crop successes of the year. Besides those little yellow tomatoes - still going strong I might add. We're glad to be helping not only our bees, but all sorts of wild bees too.



They're also still working the Mexican Sunflowers.



And while the buckwheat patch is pretty darn popular, it's not as busy as these "wet" (freshly spun) frames of honey sitting out on the porch. They'll have all the residual honey cleaned off in no time.

We were able to spin nine frames of honey yesterday. Not a bountiful harvest by any means, but we were happy to get what we could, knowing many beekeepers weren't able to take any honey this year. And we'd rather be successful in keeping our bees healthy than stockpiling more jars of honey than is fair to ask them to share.

There's always next year...

11 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

A success story!

Kathy said...

It was great to see some bees again! I used to be a beekeeper here - even took swarm samples for Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson when the AHBs came through.
I so miss having hives. I stopped as we had quite the infestation of AHB in this area and we have close neighbors.
But, I have also noticed that we haven't had pollinators in our garden and our production is way down. (There's a big commercial guy who stores his supers near here, so we used to get the stragglers in to pollinate, but not this year)
I may have to break down and get a garden hive. ;)

melanie said...

No honey in Upstate NY/VT either! All of the beekeepers I know are feeding like crazy going into the Fall in hopes of sparing what little honey they did put up for the deep of winter. Fingers crossed!

Ed said...

A honey of a post and some excellent pics..:-))

Alice said...

Bless the Buckwheat flowers! What a sweet idea. I may add this to my own garden-to -be.

Christine said...

Every time you post about the bees I get one step closer to wanting a hive.

Cloverleaf Art and Fibre said...

But have you ever tasted buckwheat honey? It's an acquired taste ... I for one am quite happy to leave it for the bees!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Yes, I've heard it's not great, so they can have it ;-). We are just happy something is blooming so they can have a good shot at filling their stores for winter.

Terry and Linda said...

You are a Sue Hubble yourself! Perfect Bee Keeping and great post!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

You've taught me something! We just didn't see many bees this year, and I think I'm going to keep planting buckwheat in mind, just to help out the bees we do have around!

cyndy said...

It does my heart good to see all your honeybees hard at work! Thank you for being a beekeeper ;0)

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