Since working with bees, I seem to be noticing more and more nature around me. Each year a new herb, wildflower and tree seems to leap out at me.
Last year it was Lime Trees and valerian. This year it’s sycamore and laurel.
Noticing some incredible blossom on a grand ancient tree a few weeks ago, I was certain I’d never seen such magnificent clusters of green blossom hanging like grapes before. Once identified as sycamore, I am now intrigued to learn more. Perhaps it’s because I’m spending more time outside watching the bees and looking out for what they may be foraging on.
Several weeks ago the laurel blossom seemed to be everywhere, with such a strong scent.
I was aware that bees forage on pussy willow, and black and hawthorn, but this year there seems to be so much more choice for them.
Wood wide web
Listening to the audio version of ‘The Hidden Life of trees’ by Peter Wohlleben has been extremely insightful. I have a new understanding of how trees communicate with each other through fungal mycorrhizal networks. The fine root tips of trees join together, coated with the fungi creating a symbiotic relationship. Fungi consume about 30 percent of the sugar that trees photosynthesise from sunlight. Fuelled by the sugar, the fungi scavenge the soil for nitrogen, phosphorous and other mineral nutrients which are then absorbed and consumed by the trees.
The nutrients trees consume are transferred to the blossom which produces nectar and pollen for the bees. Wohlleben also tells of how the trees communicate, deciding communally when to blossom, creating ‘mast’ years. I believe this is one of those years where an abundance of fruit from all trees will increase the chances of procreation, as well as food for natural foragers.
Polish fir tree honey
Last week I was given a sample of fir tree blossom honey from Poland, a delicacy I was privileged to taste. Hawthorn honey is one of my favourite to compliment the bitter arbutus and the more common Linden or lime tree honey in my collection. Perhaps I need to build up a tree honey category.
So trees do feed bees, and our hedgerows are an important source of this vital food source.
It fills me with glee to see all the Hawthorn or ‘May’ blossom along the roadsides. Promise of a bumper crop of hawberries later this year. On a bee safari at The Newt in Somerset over the weekend, I noticed some beautiful young bladdernut trees, the bees loved them too!
On my pursuit of medicinal honeys to add to my collection, I would love to know if the elder blossom produces a honey..
I suppose I just need to spend more time watching and learning, as well as tasting the honey from my bees!