Simone Gar

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since May 13, 2015
Alberta, zone 3
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Recent posts by Simone Gar

Tough to say but I would think cottoneaster. It’s all over here. Not edible but good for birds.
3 years ago

Crt Jakhel wrote:Well, black locust honey is definitely very mild, from what I've experienced so far it's not very different in taste from clover.

Canola gives a kind of honey that crystallizes super quickly and has a distinct note kind of like... uh... cabbage It *is* the same plant family after all.

Don't go ordering a large number of black locust trees unless you can get them on the cheap. If locust likes your land it will multiply quickly on its own.

I'm sorry that I can't name specific cultivars of buckwheat that would work fine for honey in Canada / USA - I'm in continental Europe and I've noticed that for many widely cultivated plants, from fruit trees to grains, the set of available varieties can be quite different than in the English-speaking countries. But if it so happens that you can get the buckwheat called Bamby (it's an Austrian one), go for it. Again, your set of what's available may be completely different than mine.

Note that in any case buckwheat is very picky about air humidity and will only attract bees if the humidity is at about 75% or more. This usually means only a few hours after the sun rises in the summer and if your summer months are droughty, you might not get a result at all. It happens - we had a great buckwheat honey crop in 2016 but none in 2017. But it's worth cultivating anyway because even if there's no honey, there's still the beneficial effect for the soil.

You also asked about the beneficial effect of herbal oils that the bees come into contact with as they visit the flowers. There is a beneficial effect but as I understand it this is also still a developing story, an area of ongoing research. There are for example anti-varroa products in the EU market that are based on thymol - the main active ingredient of thyme oil. Reports vary a lot on how effective this is. In my not exactly abundant experience - 2018 will be my 6th beekeeping season - general properties of a given year such as a prolonged hot and dry period in the summer or lack thereof have a strong influence on bee health. Add into that what kind of forage was available during the year and at what time - and already you have variables that can be more important than some individual measures that you've taken against varroa.

The linden tree is a good choice for bees as well. Just beware of the heavy shade that it can cast -- not like the soft filtered shade from black locust.

Linden honey has a minty (mentholic) flavor. Can't say what mint honey tastes like thought because I've never encountered such a quantity of mint growing in one place that it would dominate in the nectar the bees bring home.

You might want to consider maple trees, too. They give good forage quite early in the year. And hazel bushes for the same reason, the nuts are a bonus. Pussy willow for wet spots.

From what you've already described I would say your beekeeper is bringing the bees to a little piece of heaven... Make sure he gives you some good honey in return

Thanks a lot. Really good info again!
3 years ago
That’s great to hear that black locust is a favourite! I ordered a few more already! We will have close to 20 of them in the same field then.

Yes, absolutely. I have lots of lavender. It’s an easy one to sell as an herb and I use them in bouquets too. I always have hundreds of plants around. Same with hyssop for example which I heard is a bee favourite too.

Hm, that’s so sad that modern buckwheat cultivars have less nectar. I might have to look into what type of seed I am getting. Not sure if they can tell me. I had buckwheat honey and love it.

I am really excited about the bees and will definitely keep them in mind when I select what to add to the field. Most honey here is somewhat “boring” as it’s mostly canola and clover. Very sweet, quick to crystallize and just not that flavour full. I am hoping mixed flowers or some different crops at our farm make some nice honey.
3 years ago
Thanks Taylor. All good info. I am busy planting trees and shrubs too. I added about 105 this fall and around 30 are ordered for spring. I hope I can keep adding 30-50 trees and shrubs per year. Any trees bees love? I planted black locust and after read that bees apparently love them. I want to add linden too.
3 years ago

Stacy Witscher wrote:My only experience with corn salad (mache) here in the US in the restaurant industry. And it's all grown hydroponically, rots before your eyes. I always loved the flavor, but it was extremely expensive. I would love to be able to grow some. Going to follow this thread. Thanks.

The commercial one here in NA is not very good or even comparable in my experience. The stuff in Europe would blow your mind!
I haven't had much luck growing any here and I am not sure why. Zone 3 so there isn't a chance to get it through winter here but it seems that I can't figure out when to grow it. It just doesn't come up at all.
3 years ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Nice to have so many new recipes for squash or pumpkin! I have only one species, the orange Japanese pumpkin type. That's the one that grows best in my region. This year I had some 'volunteer' plants, coming from seeds hided in the compost. The plants climbed up to about 6 ft (together with the kiwi plant). This pumpkin grew high up there!

That's my favourite!
3 years ago

David Livingston wrote:Borage Sage and thyme are big favourrates of my bees not sure if they are any use as a cover crop


Got that covered too We are growing tons of herbs. The three you mentioned as well as hyssop, savory, oregano, lavender, chives, lemon balm, monarda, elecampane, and several more.
Any idea if the herbs have medicinal properties for the bees? E.g. help them stay healthy? Any effects on the honey?
3 years ago

Todd Parr wrote:Mint is a great one.  Very inexpensive to get going, spreads well, and the honeybees love it.

Perfect. I have a thing for mint. I am collecting them lol.
3 years ago
We are getting a bee keeper to put some hives on our property next year and I am trying to adjust my cover crops on the field to make them even more bee friendly. We had phacelia, buckwheat, sunflowers and several clovers already in the mix but I would like to confirm/adjust these to have a pretty good mix for the whole season. I researched a bit and it seems like honey bees also like dill, vetch, nyger and fennel for example. Any other ideas that are reasonable priced in bulk quantities?
Btw we are a flower and herb farm so we will have plenty of other flowers and many herbs.
However, I heard they do prefer masses of the same plant instead of hoping from one type to the next. True?
Oh and one more question... Black Locust and honey bees? Is it true they like black locust? I have 5 small trees I need to plant out and one possible location is in the vicinity of the hive location.
3 years ago

Todd Parr wrote:I'm wondering more and more if planting cover crops is really necessary at all.  I'm not certain how much advantage there over just letting weeds grow as my cover crops.  When I'm ready to plant, I can mow them down, layer on mulch and make holes or rows to plant in.  Even if weeds don't fix nitrogen, they contain it and will release it to be used after I chop and drop them right?  

Good point. I totally agree with letting weeds do it's thing. I still use cover crops for more specific soil enhancement but in my experience weeds did not hinder my plants, if anything they were aiding them this season.
3 years ago