Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Wildflowers Add Color

With the change of seasons we find a change in the wildflowers coloring the undisturbed margins of fields and woodlots. The yellow, white, and purple flowers of spring have been replaced by different yellow flowers plus reds and whites. Among coffee weed and spires of Johnson grass, an overgrown ditch bank reveals several bright and colorful varieties of coreopsis plus white and yellow summer asters. Here at Peace Bee Farm, we collect and freeze pollen in the summer to feed to the bees next spring to ensure a good variety of nutrients at queen-raising time. We can tell that there are numerous pollen sources available just by observing the collected pollen. The color and taste of the pollen pellets changes almost daily. This summer diversity of proteins, lipids, vitamins, and minerals will be most valuable in the early spring when pollen is not abundant.

A group of home school students from northern Mississippi visited the bee farm today. The students have been studying entomology along with their parents. Again and again I am impressed by the understanding that young children have of their natural world. They ask the most pertinent questions. They came to the bee farm with considerable knowledge of insect and honey bee biology. They asked how bees find flowers, how they know when they need a new queen, and how they go about raising a new queen. Both the children and their parents were eager to discuss ways of introducing a new queen to a colony. They could foresee many of the problems of queen acceptance. Honey bees fascinate people of all ages and open their imaginations.

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