Soybeans are in bloom throughout the Arkansas Delta. The soybean is a member of the important family of bee plants, the legumes. The legumes are the bean or pea family. It includes a number of flowering plants which produce large amounts of nectar and pollen that is gathered by honey bees. The legume family includes both trees and smaller flowering plants. Among the trees are the Kentucky coffeetree, black locust, honey locust, redbud, and mimosa. Flowering plants, shrubs, and vines in the legume family include the peas and beans, peanuts, false indigo, vetch, clover, lespedeza, kudzu, and alfalfa. The legumes are important plants in agriculture and the throughout the environment because many of them enrich the soil by the action of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria, found in nodules on the plant roots, take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it to a form useful for plant metabolism. The honey bees gather soybean nectar from the small, orchid-shaped flowers. Depending upon the variety of soybean plant, the flowers vary from white to pink. Today I found no honey bees foraging in a field of white-colored blooms. The bees were evidently drawn to another variety in a nearby field offering a stronger concentration of sugars as a greater reward to the bees. Soybean honey is light in color, flavor, and aroma.
With the nectar flowing in the Delta, we crossed the Mississippi River today to harvest spring honey from our Tennessee hives. The honey bees are able to produce the most honey in years that are hot and dry. This year has proven to be just what is needed for a good yield. We collected heavy supers of spring wildflower and clover honey. One of our bee yards had been vandalized. Some individuals had thrown enough bricks at the hives to actually break the wooden hive bodies. Yes, I am sure that they received the desired effect. Defensive honey bees fly rapidly from their nest to repel attackers. They sting.--Richard