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What are the honeybees foraging from my freshly disturbed wood chips piles?

 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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We had a chipping crew come out about a month ago and help us process some of the trees and branches that we have had to take down and clear out in preparation for the coming construction season. Once they were finished, we were left with several 10+ yard piles of wood chips around the property.

Yesterday morning, I was out moving some of the chips from a pile to the bases around the fig and persimmon trees. My honeybee hives are about a hundred feet away from this particular pile. Soon after I started working, I noticed that some of the forager honeybees were interested in what I was doing. Within a few minutes I had a good number of foragers checking out the woodchips... both the ones in the main pile and the chips that I had moved around the figs and placed as mulch.

The bees were landing on the chips and looking around for something and would occasionally pause. Their abdomens were pulsing, so I am thinking they were eating/drinking something from the woodchips.

I've read an account by paul stamets, I believe, that honeybees can drink/eat from fungal mycelium in some circumstances. Maybe this is what they were doing? Or perhaps just getting a drink of water since it had just rained the night before?

It seems odd, because we are right in the middle of the blackberry flowering period, so there is plenty of nectar and pollen available without having to go far. There is a small stream within a few hundred feet of the hives, too, so water shouldn't be any trouble for them.

I'm very curious what would have been so attractive to the bees and interesting enough to go back and dance the signal that it was worth sending more foragers?



 
tel jetson
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I've been noticing the same thing here. could be that they're collecting resins for propolis.
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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interesting thought on the resins and that you are seeing the same thing... Those particular chips were from a mix of about 50:50 white oak and doug-fir/pine. Could very well be the answer.
 
tel jetson
steward
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I also noticed bees frequenting the patch of wood chips that I've been, um..., peeing on.
 
Burra Maluca
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Water is in pretty short supply here in the Summer. There are wasps with special long legs that help them 'float' on the water so they can collect it more easily. I think bees are happiest if they can land on something damp. We tried supplying 'floats' for them in the ponds, but they are much happier now we have a slightly more natural pond where the water seeps into the soil/rock around the edges and they can land there to get their water without so much risk of drowning. When I add pee or water to my compost heaps in the summer, within minutes there is often a huge influx of bees and wasps coming to 'feed' from the pile, and as Tel noticed, they seem to prefer it when it's pee that's being added.
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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mmm, hopefully that flavor is kept separate from the honey!

I don't recall peeing on that particular pile of chips, but I can't speak for my sons... When I was up at the property yesterday, the activity seemed to have died down. Apparently, my disturbing the pile either caught their interest or exposed whatever they were after. I didn't see any bee activity at the other chip piles, either.

I've also seen the bees preference for a damp surface rather than a pool of water or running water. One of our seasonal creeks is already at the trickle stage, and the bees still seem to prefer getting a drink from the moist silt to the edges of the running creek.

Once the larger creek goes dry over the next month, I am planning to provide a water supply from a slowly dripping container onto a shallow plate that is filled with small creek sediment.
 
Jason Stevens
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I believe Paul Stamets released a study with the last couple years that revealed the mycelium exudates helped to open the detox pathways with the bees. This continued to improve the hive health, population of foragers, and less premature recruitment of nursing bees.
 
Marty Mitchell
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This may be a new nitch market. Pee flavored honey. lol


I bet the bees were there for the ease of drinking fluids. Maybe both that and propyls if there were deposits here and there.
 
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