Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cherries in Bloom

The cherry trees are in bloom along Cherry Road leading into the Memphis Botanic Garden. The flowering trees lining the road make this one of the most beautiful areas in a city of trees. The blossoms are attractive to honey bees, carpenter bees, and numerous other bees. The cherries are members of the rose family which includes many plants which are important sources of nectar and pollen for the bees. The Memphis Botanic Garden is a true haven for honey bees. The bees find a continuous series of flowering plants coming into bloom throughout the spring, summer, and fall. These urban bees produce honey considerably earlier in the year than their country cousins in the Arkansas Delta. There is a considerable difference in the available nectar sources separated by a few miles by the Mississippi River. The bees in Memphis find an array of flowering plants and clover on lawns that were not treated by chemical insecticides and herbicides. They also find a diversity of food in attended flower beds, overgrown vacant lots, parks, school yards, and public gardens, like the Memphis Botanic Garden. The honey bees in the Arkansas Delta, a region of industrial agriculture, find considerably less diversity of flowering plants. Unless plants have been specifically planted to support the bees, there is little food available in the open fields until the row crops bloom in the summer. Then there is an abundance of monoculture plants in bloom for a short period of time. Peace Bee Farm plants to provide a continuous supply of food beyond the agricultural crop blooming period. This is most important for providing good nutrition to the bees while we are producing our queen bees.

In today’s picture you can see some of the impressive cherry trees lining Cherry Road at the entrance to the garden. When we open bee hives, they have a pleasant odor of beeswax and honey. Our hives at the Memphis Botanic Garden have a definite fragrance of flowers.

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