Throughout the Arkansas Delta, wildflowers are abundant in the spring along any undisturbed stretch of sunny ground. This may be any unplowed agricultural field, roadside, or margin along waterways. This spring, which saw regular rainfalls, has been particularly conducive to wildflower growth. Wildflowers provide considerable amounts of nectar and a diverse assortment of pollens necessary for the nutrition of developing honey bees. Good nutrition is of special importance for the development of healthy and effective queen bees. Those stretches of ground that produce the wildflowers are often good habitats for the other important native pollinators. We are finding that the protection of these wild areas helps keep agricultural areas healthy and productive.
In the picture, we see a honey bee foraging on vetch growing along an un-mowed margin of Peace Bee Farm. In the background we see the white blossoms of spring asters and yellow buttercups in bloom. Honey bees exhibit flower constancy. They return to the same species of flower as long as it is producing pollen or nectar. This bee will continue to work vetch flowers. Another group of bees will work the asters, and a third group will forage the buttercups. The mixture of nectars being brought into the hive makes for subtle differences in the color and flavor of the honey produced throughout the year. Spring wildflowers in the Arkansas Delta produce light colored, mild tasting, flavorful honeys.