Thursday, April 23, 2009

Black Locust in Bloom

The black locust bloom is one of the milestones in the beekeeping year, because in some years the black locust produces a considerable amount of honey. The black locust often makes thickets which stand out from the background along the margin of woods by their bright white blossoms. A thicket of black locust in full bloom, located near the Mississippi River, that I watched this week for three days, found very few honey bee visitors. Honey bees respond to nectar sources according to the amount of nectar available and the concentration of sugars in the nectar. The bees are evidently finding other flowering plants more attractive at this time.

The black locust is a member of the important family of bee plants, the legumes. The legumes, or pea family, include several trees, the mimosa, redbud, Kentucky coffeetree, and the honey locust. The honey locust is the tree of similar appearance, but with eight-inch thorns on the trunk. The honey locust produces flowers that smell like honey, but the tree usually doesn’t produce enough nectar to make a surplus of honey for the beekeeper. Some of the other legumes are clover, soybeans, and peanuts. The black locust is truly a beautiful and useful tree.

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