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How do bees know where to go and how do we know what type honey we get?

 Philip asked the second part of that title a week ago.  I just saw his question yesterday.  It is a good question.

So lets back up a little.  We all know bees are very hard workers, they are very smart workers.  When a bee goes out to forage for nectar, pollen or water they use their internal GPS to mark where they find a bounty.    They then fly a bee line back to the hive.  Once in the hive they will do a bee dance to tell other bees where the nectar or pollen was found.  Depending on how convincing their dance is compared to the other bees, is where the decision is made for the rest of the bees to go.

So I said bees work smarter.  When searching for nectar, they prefer the easier to get nectar.  So on my moms property, there is tons of wild blackberries.  A super easy nectar flow for the bees.  So for a month 90% of what they go after is blackberry nectar.  They may mix in other flowers, but not enough to screw up the flavor.  This is also true for my raspberry, gallberry, knotweed, etc.

Another way we know what type honey we get is when we pollinate crops.  One crop I used to do was Maine wild blueberries.  As far as the eye could see was blueberry fields.  So the only flower the bees could visit was blueberry.  Orange and cranberry are harvested this way.

Ogechee Tupelo Trees
Ogechee Tupelo Trees
tupelo blossom
tupelo blossom

One of the trickier, and reasons it is more expensive, is tupelo honey.  Ogechee tupelo trees grow on the edges of swamps, rivers and marshes in SE Georgia and NE Florida.  Big giant massive trees.  Very cool.  They produce little green balls with tiny little flowers on it.  The nectar is green so the honey has a green tint.  It is the easiest flower for the bees to work while its blooming.  They wont touch other flowers.

To harvest tupelo, first you need to get near the swamps.  Get your bees in place.  Then as soon as you see the trees start to bloom, add honey supers.  You then monitor the bloom, and as soon as the flowers wain, you pull the honey.  Pure tupelo.  If you wait, the bees start adding gallberry or other flowers to the honey.  The photo is my last truck delivering empty honey supers in the swamp.  (Dodge made such a crappy truck it broke down monthly and almost killed my bee business a few years ago).

Now if you are in an area with a large variety of flowers, we just call it wildflower honey.  I hope that answers the question clearly.

I got good news from my friend in Florida.  He is sending me Orange Blossom, gallberry, and palmetto honey.  Those of you in the honey of the month club will enjoy them.

I am pricing labels today. These printers think their stickers are made of gold.

I’m sure if I ordered 10,000 of each I’d be ok. Growing pains. Everyone be safe.

George & Marley

George Hatchell

Beekeeper, Chocolatier, Photographer, Hiker, Camper, Dad