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Chestnut trees for Bees?

 
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I've been researching perennial bee forage a lot lately, and a few sources list chestnuts (and also hazelnuts) as being good bee forage. But these trees are wind pollinated, from what I understand. Yet I've heard accounts of things like corn being pollinated by bees too. Does anyone have any personal knowledge, experience, or research that they can share? Are chestnuts in fact a good source of forage for them?
 
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I haven't seen bees in my chestnuts when they're flowering, nor in the hazels or walnuts. The only nut trees at our place that get any attention from pollinators are the almond and the macadamias. The latter are full-on bee party trees when they are in flower.
 
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Some of the trees, like oak and chestnut, are sources of forage other than from flowers. I think it varies with variety, but here in some regions you can get a reliable crop from "honey dew" - that is aphids drinking sap from leaves and exuding sugary liquid waste. Others have "extra-floral nectaries" - glands on leaf and stem surfaces that exude sticky sweet nectar. These exudates attract predator species which feed on the bugs that would otherwise eat the plant.

https://honeybeesuite.com/what-is-honeydew-honey/

http://www.extrafloralnectaries.org/
 
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Never noticed any significant bee activity on our chestnuts. I will ask some of the beekeepers who have lived here much longer. It was NOT mentioned in a tree related bee class last month. My girls are starting to forage now. Will watch for chestnut tree activity.

Bees have an uncanny ability to know exactly when something is ready. For example, honeysuckle. Had several hives near some honeysuckle that was impossible for them to not notice. They ignored it all season until one particular day they worked it hard. So maybe chestnut is a short term resource for them???





 
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I have definitely seen bees working chestnut bloom.  But then I live in a climate where there are relatively few things in bloom at that time, so they may be sort of desperate for anything.  Also be aware that chestnuts, like most trees, only bloom for a fairly short period, so even if they are a good forage species, you will need plenty of other sources for them too.
 
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I see bees on chestnut flowers every year. where I'm at, there are a lot of blackberries flowering at the same time, so it isn't lack of forage that leads the bees to the chestnuts. my guess is they're after the pollen, which chestnuts produce prodigiously.
 
James Landreth
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tel jetson wrote:I see bees on chestnut flowers every year. where I'm at, there are a lot of blackberries flowering at the same time, so it isn't lack of forage that leads the bees to the chestnuts. my guess is they're after the pollen, which chestnuts produce prodigiously.



Thanks for the answers everyone. I hear chestnut honey is produced in Europe, so maybe there's nectar too. I live close to you Tet (in fact I lived in woodland for a while) wasn't sure if chestnuts and blackberries flower simultaneously. Good to know. I'm hoping sorrel trees, silverberry, and American witchhazel will extend things into fall
 
tel jetson
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I've never had chestnut honey. I've seen it for sale at fairly exorbitant prices, though, so maybe it's real good.
 
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Honeybees need both nectar and pollen, the latter to feed to developing bees in their larval stage.  From what i understand, bees will collect pollen from several plants that do not also produce nectar -- flowers producing wind-born pollen, like corn and oak.  

There are different 'chestnuts,' but whether the flowers produce nectar or not, maybe bees seen on the flowers are simply collecting pollen.  If you see pollen on the bees' hind legs in their pollen 'baskets,' then that tells you they're collecting pollen.  When they forage, apparently they stick to either pollen or nectar, and the pollen each bee gathers will be from only one species, although when they unload and head back out they may begin to fixate on a different species.

The Mass/Rhode Island chapter of the Am. Chestnut Foundation are meeting on Zoom this Sunday, 12/6/2020, and there's a discussion of bees and chestnuts.  I'm curious...
 
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