As a backyard or urban beekeeper, you will need to ensure that your honeybees can find the pollen and nectar they need to build and support a healthy hive, and in the process, produce quality honey. Though your bees will go into other backyards and gardens to forage for pollen and nectar, your backyard should provide a plethora of flowers and plants that will provide the necessities for your bee colony.
Plants with high nectar and/or pollen content are the best plants to fill your garden with. The following ten plants are particularly attractive to honeybees due to their high nectar and/or pollen content:
- Borage (Borago offcinalis)
- Lemon Balm/Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
- Phacelia (Phacela tanacetifolia)
- White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba)
- Echium (Echium vulgare)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalus)
- Goldenrod (Solidago)
- Cornflower/Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus)
- Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
You will need to check with your local nursery to see which of these plants are the best for your climate and area of the country. You should also consult with other local beekeepers to learn about other plants that are high in nectar and pollen that will contribute to higher rates of honey production.
You can also check out these website for more information:
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As summer is approaching, the blossoming flowers and growing bounty of the land attracts the buzzing honeybee. As the season progresses these important creatures are busy building their hive. A natural part of this process is the swarming of the honeybee. As their hive grows they will begin to overpopulate their space and a portion of the hive will go in search of a new home. The bees will form a cluster and swarm in a tree, study foliage or even a man-made structure. They will then send out scouts to search for a safe place to build a new home. This is the natural way that the honeybee multiplies and builds their population. Often the bees will swarm in the proximity of those of us that live among them and can be an intimidating site. Knowing what to do is the most important thing when you cross paths with a honeybee swarm. According to Matt Reed, a Portland beekeeper and owner of Bee Thinking, bees are actually at their least aggressive while swarming because they don’t have a hive to protect.
So a swarm may seem like something that should elicit panic, but it is important to stay calm and call a local beekeeper (such as Matt Reed) to capture and move the swarm to a place where they can find a home. Of course it is a good idea to keep pets and children away from the swarm, but be patient and wait for the swarm to be safely removed. This is important to protect the swarm, a vital part of our ecology.
To find out who in your area will remove swarms, check with your state beekeeping association or you can search the internet of local beekeepers.
With farmer’s markets starting up again, local honey is much more readily available, along with the fresh produce and flowers often purchased.
For people attempting to have a healthier diet and lifestyle, using honey as a replacement for traditional sweeteners in cooking can be a healthier option. According to Ashley Gartland in the Oregonian article, “Local Honey is Liquid Gold,” local honey is a much better option than many commercially produced honeys that often have corn syrup and other additives in them. Click here to read the rest of this article.
Eating local honey is also said to have a positive affect on people with allergies. The theory is that local honey contains the pollens of local plants, which are often the cause of many allergies. Supposedly, by eating honey produced in your area, it can gradually build up a person’s immunity to the various local pollens.
To learn more about honey, check out the National Honey Board’s website at www.honey.com.
Honey can come in a variety of flavors. The flowers and nectar available to a bee colony can affect the flavor of the resulting honey. Honey created in different parts of the country can have drastically different tastes, and certain areas of the world are known for specific varietals of honey.
Nectar collected from several sources – or a number of different flowers – the resulting honey is referred to as “wildflower” or “mixed flower” honey. But when honey is made from nectar that is 80% of the same type of flower or plant, it can be labeled as a specific variety of honey.
Though each variety of honey is made of the same elements – sucrose and water – the different flavors are due to a variety of organic acids that give each type of honey its distinct taste.
Here is a sampling of honey varieties that you may not have heard of:
- Acacia: Hungary, Italy, France. Light in color with a delicate flavor. Good for baking.
- Avocado: California, Florida, Chile. Dark amber color with rich, floral flavor. Nice table honey, good for pancakes.
- Cranberry: Wisconsin, Oregon, Quebec. Medium amber color with hints of an intense, tart berry taste. Excellent with yogurt.
- Fireweed: Washington, Alaska, Oregon. Light gold color with mild, spicy flavor. Excellent for making honey butter or as a table honey.
- Lehua: Hawaii. Off white color with a distinct, complex flavor Overtones of butterscotch and lilies. Excellent with green tea.
- Rosemary: Spain, Italy, France. Light amber color with fresh herbal, slightly smoky flavor. Nice in glazes for chicken and drizzled over focaccia bread.
- Sunflower: Georgia, Italy, Spain. Pale yellow to light amber color with nutty, apricot flavor. Drizzle over yogurt or serve with fresh fruit.
- Tupelo: Florida, Georgia. White to light amber color with floral flavor and rich, buttery texture. Nice in glazes for pork.
To learn more about honey varietals, check out these books: Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009) or Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide with Recipes by Gene Opton (Ten Speed Press, 2000).
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg
1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together.
Cut butter into small pieces. Work butter into dry ingredients with pastry cutter or with fingers. When blended throughly, add honey and stir until completely blended.
Refrigerate dough for a minimum of 1 hour.
Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured board. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters of your choice. Bake for 12-15 minutes on a cookie sheet.
Let cool for one minute on cookie sheet, then cool completely on cookie racks.
2 1/2 cups of flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinn.
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinn.
3. In a large bowl (separate), combine sugar, honey, oil, eggs, & orange zest
4. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with orange juice, mixing just until incorporated
5. Pour batter into prepared pan
6. Bake 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.
The extremes of heat and cold we endure throughout the seasons can make even the greatest of hair look and feel like straw. This nourishing conditioner blends honey for shine; olive oil for moisture and essential oil of rosemary to stimulate hair growth.
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup warmed Olive oil (2T for normal to oily hair)
4 drops of essential oil of Rosemary
1 tsp. Xanthum gum (available in health food stores)
Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into a clean plastic bottle with a tight fitting stopper or lid.
Apply a small amount at a time to slightly dampened hair. Massage scalp and work mixture through hair until completely coated. Cover hair with a warm towel (towel can be heated in a microwave or dryer) or shower cap; leave on to nourish and condition for 30 minutes. Remove towel or shower cap; shampoo lightly and rinse with cool water. Dry as normal and enjoy shinier, softer and healthier hair the natural way.
This recipe is courtesy of www.honey.com National Honey Board
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Honey is a great ingredient to use in cooking as a sweetener and sometimes as a replacement for sugar. With all the great recipes out there that use honey, we’ve decided to feature a honey recipe each month on our blog.
For our first recipe, we’re keeping it simple…
1/2 cup butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (to taste)
Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until firm.
Honey Butter tastes great on muffins, scones, pancakes, and banana nut bread. To make your Honey Butter extra special, check out these Food Network recipes:
Simple and Safe Ingredients
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 wedge lemon
Bring the water to a boil. Combine hot water and apple cider vinegar in a small glass or mug. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Top off with a squeeze of lemon. Take a deep breath of the mixture, and start drinking.