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Busy again, but where?

Observation hive bees get into autumnal action rushing in and out of their tunnel to the great outdoors.

After a few weeks idle time, the observation hive bees are out and about again as often as the weather permits. I suspect the ivy is beginning to flower after the August gap. Ivy produces one of the few honeys that I loathe, but I like what it does to provide winter stores for the bees.

I’ve heard it said that its crystallization makes it hard for the bees to use in a cold winter, but here in southern England winters are mild enough to let the bees out frequently enough to gather water to help liquefy any solid stores.

This week, I saw the NASA honeybee forage map of the USA. Fascinating — by clicking on each state, you can see what the bee forage is, its significance and when it flowers.

For British beekeepers there is that marvellous short paper by Dorothy Hodges: A Calendar of Bee Plants. Published by IBRA in 1978, but giving average flowering times recorded in the 1940s and 50s it offers an almost frightening picture of climate change: it is very clear how earlier plants tend to flower now (this tardy spring excepted of course!).

And this year, the beekeeper must-have Plants for Bees, an updated version of the 1945 work of FN Howes’ Plants and Beekeeping was published.

But what I’d really like is a flightpath map to show where my bees are foraging. Any ideas?

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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