Buckwheat Honey Production

General Discussion of Diary Posts and Questions on Beekeeping Matters
User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » April 19th, 2011, 9:50 pm

This past weekend I bumped into a guy I haven't seen since high school. He is a few years older than me, but both of us were active in FFA so I knew him and his family.

For the past few years, after he harvests his winter wheat crop in early July, he has been planting buckwheat as a fall crop. He was interested in finding a beekeeper because of all the wild bees that were visiting the buckwheat. (His crop advisor said he was seeing bugs on the buckwheat that the advisor had never seen before.) He said that he hadn't lost any money growing buckwheat, but he hadn't made any money either.

Doug plans to plant about 100 acres of buckwheat this year. From what I have read online, they recommend one hive per acre in Canada for seed production. It appears that you get the best seed set with 2-3 hives per acre. I haven't found any data for the number of hives per acre for honey production.

My only experience with buckwheat has been on a couple acre patch in a year with bad weather and mainly package bees. They were able to draw comb, but didn't store much surplus.

I searched the Bee-L archives for buckwheat, and found that Allen said he ran hives on buckwheat one year and it was a flop for him.

I want to get up to 100-ish hives this year, but I was leaning more towards putting 50 hives at most on the 100 acres of buckwheat. Is this a reasonable hive set, or should I think about trying to move all 100 hives onto the buckwheat? The buckwheat will begin blooming at the end of July, and there is minimal flow in August so I wouldn't really be losing honey production if I moved all my hives. (But it is more work moving hives by hand.)

What is others experience with buckwheat? How many hives per acre did you run?
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
peterdbk
Forum Regular
Posts: 45
Joined: November 6th, 2010, 4:43 pm
Location: NH

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by peterdbk » April 23rd, 2011, 3:18 pm

You wonder whether to move in 50 or 100 hives. The missing piece of information is whether your goal is pollination (favor to this guy or for pay) or a honey crop. If your goal is to see what honey yield you can get per hive, then fewer hives should give you better numbers. If you put 20 hives on one end of the field, you would see if you get a crop and the farmer would see if the seed set is significantly higher on that end. My guess is you will not get a big honey crop at one or more hives per acre, but that is just a guess.

I have experience with my bees around small fields (single digit acres) of buckwheat and, while the bees pay attention to it, I do not notice significant honey in the hives. I am in southern New Hampshire. I suspect soils and weather have a huge impact, since heavy honey crops from buckwheat are famous in upstate New York.

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » April 23rd, 2011, 6:33 pm

The missing piece of information is whether your goal is pollination (favor to this guy or for pay) or a honey crop.

The title of the thread is Buckwheat Honey Production. I think it goes without saying that the primary goal is a honey crop for my benefit, balanced with a secondary goal of boosting seed set for the farmer.

If your goal is to see what honey yield you can get per hive, then fewer hives should give you better numbers.

It might give you a better yield per hive with one hive, but I am looking at total yield. 20 hives should outproduce 1 hive in terms of total production. I am curious of the saturation point of hives when you begin to get diminishing returns.

I did find a 1995 Bjorkman study that said that 1 hive per 2 acres are typically needed to pollinate a buckwheat crop. I have been unable to find any information on the number of hives per acre for honey production. I have heard historical stories from the good old days of beekeeping when beekeepers averaged 200 pound buckwheat honey crops (300 was not uncommon) after they had already harvested 100 pounds of sweetclover honey. I have not heard how many hives per acre they were running in those days though.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Bjorkman
Posts: 1
Joined: April 27th, 2011, 7:26 pm

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Bjorkman » April 27th, 2011, 8:08 pm

I recently caught wind of this discussion. I'm the one whose 1995 paper you cite above.

The calculation in that paper is based on the number of bee visits we saw per flower each day during the hours they were pollinated, and then doing the arithmetic for the number of bees required to do that work. It is not a recommended number of hives to provide in fields! In fact, most of the fields in which we did the research had no supplemental hives at all. There were enough beehives around to provide ample pollination. Even if there had not been, there are quite a few native pollinators that do a fine job.

Thus, the need for supplemental pollination depends a great deal on the background pollinator population in a particular area. New York is probably relatively rich due to the varied habitat.

I spent a lot of time trying to find the basis for recommendations on how many hives to provide. The evidence in scant. The published research is from sites in Russia in the 1950s where they planted buckwheat in isolated clearings in the forest. Between the low pollinator population in such forests, and Russian insecticide practices in that era, I suspect the background pollinator population was lower than in most buckwheat-growing sites.

Perhaps of more interest to those hoping to produce buckwheat honey, I wrote a piece in my buckwheat newsletter a few years ago. You can find it online at http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/la ... ne06.php#H. The short version is that weather is likely the major reason why there is drastic variation in honey production. Sometimes it's rainy and the nectar and pollen is inaccessible. Sometimes other flowers bloom at the same time that are more attractive to bees (lucerne* in particular).

A beekeeper on another site describes exactly this phenomenon: http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?PH ... #msg186166

This phenomenon has mystified beekeepers for a long time. This is from J.L. Byer of Ontario in American Bee Journal in 1908. "peaking of buckwheat, I am at a loss to know if the plant -yields no honey early in the season, or whether the bees will not work on it when clover is in bloom. A large amount of buckwheat came up among the oats and other grain, one field of 10 acres being literally white with the blossoms during the time clover was in bloom, yet, although we had a few mornings that one would think were ideal for the buckwheat to secrete nectar, scarcely a bee could be found upon the blossoms, and our honey from the clover was never whiter in color. As the bees do not work on clover in the early forenoon, at a time when buckwheat yields best, I was agreebly surprised to find it was not touched, as we fully expected to have our clover honey with a buckwheat flavor."

Best of luck!

Thomas


*Registration indicated British English for this site. Alfalfa in North America.

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » April 30th, 2011, 8:08 pm

Thanks for your input. I was having a difficult time finding any information on hive set per acre also. I've had hives on a few acres of buckwheat a couple years ago - it was a horrible year for production due to rainy and cold weather, but the honey I was able to get was darker and had a distinctive buckwheat taste.

I know we have quite a few native pollinators. I plan to have Doug compare this year's yield with previous plantings to see how much of an impact the hives had on seed set.

I also wonder how much of an impact on honey production is due to the seed source. In earlier times, most farmers would save some of their harvest for next year's planting. The plants that provided the most nectar would get pollinated the best by bees, giving them the most seeds. By planting bin run seed year after year, the farmers were naturally selecting for plants that produced more nectar. Now, seed companies keep trying to develop strains of seed that have other benefits than nectar production in the plant; ie. yield, lodging resistance, etc. However, it sticks in my mind that I read once that buckwheat hybrids seem to perform comparably to regular buckwheat strains. (Maybe I need to talk to the farmer and see if I can get him to save some seed to replant next year in a smaller plot, and compare yields and honey production to purchased seed.)
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » July 5th, 2011, 8:29 pm

In my research and further correspondence with Bjorkman, it appears that bees only work buckwheat while they are gathering pollen. As soon as it stops producing pollen, the bees stop working buckwheat, even though nectar production continues and peaks during the afternoon.

Right now I am planning on putting 20 hives on the buckwheat for starters. I can move more in if they start gathering a ton of honey.

I am going to feed 10 of the hives pollen patties, in an attempt to minimize pollen gathering in the hopes that will stimulate the bees to concentrate on nectar production. I plan on feeding 2-3 BeePro patties every 2-3 weeks or as needed. On the other 10 hives, I will not feed any patties. I am going to see if there is any noticeable difference. (To be really precise, I should probably include a sample with pollen traps or a screen over entrances to dislodge pollen to cause a shortage of pollen in the hive and stimulate pollen gathering even more. I doubt I will go this far though, as my boxes have too many holes which are used as entrances.)

I also found an 1860 magazine article that had been scanned as one of the google books. That article mentioned that a beekeeper had observed that his Italian bees would not make buckwheat honey, but his black bees did make buckwheat honey. If buckwheat honey production has any correlation to the percentage of Apis Mellifera Mellifera genetics, that could explain why buckwheat honey yields can be very erratic. (It could also explain why beekeepers used to average 200 pound buckwheat honey crops 100 years ago when many more beekeepers were using black bees.)

I have a couple hives that have really dark bees. I will make sure I move those hives to the buckwheat, and see if there is any noticeable difference between those dark bees and Italian or Carniolan bees.

I am just doing this as a simple somewhat scientific study. Does anyone have any ideas for other variables that would be easy to work with that should be included? (I intend to run 4 hives with screened bottom boards, and the rest solid bottom boards.)
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

Allen Dick
Site Admin
Posts: 1746
Joined: February 25th, 2003, 10:09 pm
Location: Swalwell, Alberta
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 5th, 2011, 8:49 pm

Make sure the buckwheat you are looking at is the same buckwheat that is in the literature and discussed in any advice you receive.

As I recall, what is called buckwheat in Manitoba is apparently nohing like what is called buckwheat in California.
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
51° 33'39.64"N 113°18'52.45"W
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Allen%27s%20Beehives.kmz
Forum owner/janitor
---
Customise your experience at Honeybeeworld Forum at your User control Panel
Change the appearance and layout with your Board Preferences
Please upload your own avatar picture at Edit Avatar. It's easy!
Return to main diary page

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » July 8th, 2011, 8:41 pm

Yes, this is the buckwheat grain and not the wild buckwheat weed they have in California.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » August 14th, 2011, 10:03 pm

The buckwheat was planted roughly 30 days ago. I supered up the hives on the 6th, and the buckwheat was just beginning to bloom then. In the past week the buckwheat has grown over a foot, and the field is getting whiter.

It was overcast and trying to mist a little this morning, but the bees were flying hard. I checked one average strength hive, and it had made about a half a box of honey so far.

http://youtu.be/uCH-S_0zmKU

As much pollen as these bees are hauling, a guy could trap a little pollen on this yard.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » August 26th, 2011, 7:28 pm

The buckwheat has been blooming for about 3 weeks now, and is in full bloom. I'm seeing honey production ranging from 10-30 pounds of honey per week, depending on hive strength. I would say the average is probably 15-20 pounds per hive per week.

So far I have not seen a production difference in hives with patties, and hives without patties. Maybe as we get further into production, I will see a difference. Right now I am just checking a few hives at random, and production on both sides of the yard seems comparable when doing random samples.

There are 30 hives on this 100 acre field of buckwheat.

Other hives around the county are simply starving, due to the lack of any flow. I am in the process of moving all of my hives to the buckwheat fields to try to reduce the need for feeding to prepare for winter. I am taking weaker hives and nucs to the 25 acre field he has in a different location.

My dad grew a few acres of buckwheat a couple years ago. Normally by noon, the bees were done working it. This Koto variety is different - I was out there at 3 pm today and the bees were still all over the buckwheat and flying hard. It was a bright, warm and sunny day also. I did notice that none of the foragers on the buckwheat at 3pm were carrying any pollen. In the mornings, they are hauling tons of pollen.

A beekeeper friend also has a few hives there, and he made a couple YouTube clips with his phone of bees flying and doing orientation flights in a good breeze. They give you a good idea of what the fields are looking like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drTHgrJ6NQE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdjpnJwZLxc

The previous 2 times I have been there during the day, as soon as I got out of the truck I have had 3 or 4 bees trying to nail me. The other night I went up as it was getting dark, suited up, and then thumped each hive a couple times with a good stick to see which hive was the pesky one. When I thumped one hive, about 2 pounds of bees came pouring out the front, and about a dozen were all over my suit and veil. The other hives would just rev up their buzz when thumped. I was up there this afternoon removing the supers so my helper and I can move that hive tomorrow morning - interestingly, I did not have any pesky bees trying to bother me.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

Allen Dick
Site Admin
Posts: 1746
Joined: February 25th, 2003, 10:09 pm
Location: Swalwell, Alberta
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Allen Dick » August 26th, 2011, 8:46 pm

Impressive videos. Thanks for posting them.
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
51° 33'39.64"N 113°18'52.45"W
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Allen%27s%20Beehives.kmz
Forum owner/janitor
---
Customise your experience at Honeybeeworld Forum at your User control Panel
Change the appearance and layout with your Board Preferences
Please upload your own avatar picture at Edit Avatar. It's easy!
Return to main diary page

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 12th, 2011, 6:55 pm

I waited a little too long to pull the honey. We had a couple chilly nights, and they had moved some honey down into the broodnest. There hadn't been much flow the past week or so, and I think they started eating it too. They had drawn the comb out good, and then started emptying it. (Note to self: pull honey right when the main bloom ends. Don't wait around hoping they will make more on the straggler blossoms.)

I ended up averaging a little over 30 pounds per hive with a 4 week bloom period. Not as good as I was hoping, but nothing to complain about.

Normally the buckwheat takes 10-12 weeks before it is ready to harvest. We are at 8 weeks, and the farmer says it is almost ready to harvest. Our screwy weather has it ready ahead of time.

I did not see any difference in honey yield between hives that were fed protein patties, and hives that were not fed.
I did not see any difference between hives with screened or solid bottoms.
I did not see any difference between hives with dark bees and hives with orange bees.

Stronger hives made more honey. Weaker hives made less. That was the only noticeable difference I could see.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » December 8th, 2011, 6:41 pm

I talked to the buckwheat farmer this evening. He said that he ended up with 1200 or 1300 pounds per acre yield, and he had lost quite a bit on the ground at harvest due to shattering. His goal this year was 1000 pounds per acre. IIRC, he had told me this past spring that the best yield he had ever gotten was 800 pounds per acre. So this was a 50% improvement in yield over previous years.

How much of that benefit was due to the bees? Who knows. I'd like to claim credit for the increased yield, but we got rains at the right time and the weather cooperated, and I suspect getting the right weather at the right time played a bigger factor than extra bees, but I have no way of knowing.

He told me he thinks he would have been better off planting double crop soybeans this year instead of buckwheat. Another local farmer got 40 bushels an acre on his double crop beans. Normally, 15-20 bushels is doing good on double crop beans around here, and some years it's not worth the fuel to harvest the double crop beans. This is part of why I think the weather may have been a bigger factor influencing his yield.

His buckwheat rep said there is a guy a couple counties away who usually grows about 600 acres of buckwheat every year. That guy averaged about 2000 pounds per acre, but that guy has the right equipment for harvesting. (That guy has a self propelled swather. He cuts it at nighttime when it is green, and then has a pickup head to harvest it during the daytime.) The farmer I know said he may take a winter trip out west and look into getting some better equipment - he thinks your yield depends largely on harvesting.

Since he is looking at investing money in specialty equipment dedicated to buckwheat, I think it goes without saying that he is planning on growing it again next year.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
loynn
Posts: 4
Joined: January 1st, 2012, 5:43 pm

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by loynn » January 3rd, 2012, 7:17 am

Bjorkman wrote: ...
Perhaps of more interest to those hoping to produce buckwheat honey, I wrote a piece in my buckwheat newsletter a few years ago. You can find it online at http://www.hort.cornell.edu/bjorkman/la ... ne06.php#H The short version is that weather is likely the major reason why there is drastic variation in honey production. Sometimes it's rainy and the nectar and pollen is inaccessible. Sometimes other flowers bloom at the same time that are more attractive to bees (lucerne* in particular).
...
Thanks for sharing this interesting links. I am really interested in gardening and flowers and due to this it would be interesting to know which flowers attract bees the most. I also have a lot of flowers in my garden and I am not sure which flowers they like most. Sometimes I deliver flowers and then I think I will use some of them in order to test which flowers they like most.

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 14th, 2014, 10:22 pm

In 2012 I put hives on the buckwheat again. Zero honey. That winter I lost about 1/3 of my regular production hives. My hives that I took to the buckwheat, I had 2/3 winter losses. So in 2013 and this year in 2014, I didn't take hives to the buckwheat. I couldn't justify the increased hive losses, in hopes of a crop that may or may not happen.

The buckwheat farmer called me this afternoon. A couple hobby beekeepers have a half dozen hives on his buckwheat this year. One of those hives swarmed, and he didn't have their phone numbers. (but he has mine) He asked me if I would come get the swarm. It had landed in the pine tree right beside his house. His wife had came home as the swarm was landing, and she was freaking out. After I got done pulling honey at another yard, I hived the swarm. The swarm was probably about 6 pounds.

I have no idea if the swarm will make it or not. I put the swarm in a single deep with drawn comb, an excluder, and 6 shallow supers of drawn comb. Who knows...maybe they will make me a little buckwheat honey. At worst, they die and all I am out is a little time running over there.

When I was there talking to the buckwheat farmer, he tells me that the buckwheat has been blooming about 2 weeks. 4 or 5 days ago, one of the hobby beekeepers was talking to his dad. The hobby beekeeper has a scale hive on a neighbor's property, and the hobbyist told his dad that the hive had gained 70 pounds since the buckwheat bloomed. We had had a lot of regular rains this year. (August was green, and it is usually dry and brown everywhere.) This may have been a good year for buckwheat honey.

Here is a video of the bees working the buckwheat fields 3 years ago.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCH-S_0zmKU
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 3rd, 2018, 3:05 pm

The buckwheat farmer hasn't grown any buckwheat for the past couple years. (He couldn't get a contract to grow it, or it didn't fit into their crop rotation.)

This year he grew it again, and he has 2 fields a mile apart that are 30 or 35 acres each. Normally he plants buckwheat in July right after the wheat is harvested. For whatever reason, he didn't get around to planting it until the beginning of August. August 22/23 was when the first field of buckwheat started to bloom. (The other field is about a week behind.) I have 10 hives on the buckwheat - 6 hives on one field, and 4 hives at the other.

At 11:00 this morning, it was about 85 degrees, and the bees were flying hard. This field had a ton of Monarch butterflies working the buckwheat, something I had never noticed as much in prior years. A week ago, I could smell ripening nectar near the hives. Today, I could smell nectar in other areas of the field. Cross your fingers for a good buckwheat honey year.

I have heard that buckwheat likes cool weather. However, I know some flowers produce nectar better above 80 degrees. It is supposed to be 90 every day for the next week. It will be interesting to see if this hot weather affects honey production.

Here's a cell phone video of the bees and buckwheat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9zjZOXe4Ps
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 3rd, 2018, 6:47 pm

I stopped by the buckwheat field about 6pm this afternoon. I could no longer smell buckwheat nectar in other parts of the field, but the hives reeked of buckwheat nectar, and the hives were roaring with bees fanning to cure the nectar. The smell near the hives was incredibly strong. (I didn't take my smoker. I probably should have, so I could crack a few hives open and see what they looked like.)

There were no butterflies, honeybees, or any other bees on the buckwheat flowers. There were a couple bees still flying around the hives, but most were just hanging out. Of the bees that were flying around, when they landed, I noticed a couple that were gray like they had been working jewelweed. (Jewelweed leaves a gray pollen coating down the back of bees when they go in the flower.)

I made another quick video.

https://youtu.be/Qy9Vpb8sXbM

At my home yard, I did catch a faint whiff of goldenrod. Usually it is another week before I can smell goldenrod from hives.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

Allen Dick
Site Admin
Posts: 1746
Joined: February 25th, 2003, 10:09 pm
Location: Swalwell, Alberta
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Allen Dick » September 3rd, 2018, 7:49 pm

Sweet! I love BW honey and it is hard to get pure BW. The real stuff looks like well-used motor oil and smells like a pig barn, but tastes great!
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
51° 33'39.64"N 113°18'52.45"W
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/Allen%27s%20Beehives.kmz
Forum owner/janitor
---
Customise your experience at Honeybeeworld Forum at your User control Panel
Change the appearance and layout with your Board Preferences
Please upload your own avatar picture at Edit Avatar. It's easy!
Return to main diary page

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 3rd, 2018, 8:28 pm

Well, it doesn't have the ammonia smell of a hog barn, but it does have a strong smell.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of buckwheat honey. My favorite is probably a banana yellow colored goldenrod honey with a butterscotch taste.

It seems like people either like buckwheat honey, or they hate it. There's not much inbetween.

When I sell it at farmers markets, I let people taste it so they know what they are getting. I advertise it that it has the highest anti-oxidants of any honey, and a spoonful is more effective than children's cough syrup. I push the medicinal value, rather than the taste.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

User avatar
Countryboy
Forum Regular
Posts: 551
Joined: November 8th, 2010, 9:37 pm
Location: Central Ohio
Contact:

Re: Buckwheat Honey Production

Unread post by Countryboy » September 3rd, 2018, 8:43 pm

I am curious to see if the later planting date affects honey production.

Still, I suspect that weather has the largest impact on yield. I think getting rains at the right time to get the plant established is of enormous impact. I've seen buckwheat a foot and a half tall from lack of rain, and buckwheat that was 3 feet tall because it got rain at the right time.

This year, the farmer planted 2 fields of buckwheat, about a mile apart. One field got planted about a week behind. The field in the videos is the first field that got planted. It has been blooming about 2 weeks. The bees were working it really hard today.
I also checked the second field this morning. That field has been blooming about a week. That field is white too. The bees around the hives were lazy at 11am. They were not flying very hard. There were a few bees on the buckwheat, but just here and there you would see a bee. I only saw a few Monarch butterflies at the second field, but the first field was covered with Monarchs.

Why the difference? I don't know.
The first field is flat ground. The second field is hillsides and rolling ground. This can affect drainage and ground moisture.
The first field got tilled up better. The second field did not get disked up as good. I know you get a better stand and higher yields of buckwheat grain if the ground is worked up better, but I don't know if that affects nectar production too.
The first field was planted a week ahead of the second. Does buckwheat produce different amounts of nectar per flower depending on the age of the plant? Maybe in a week, the bees will be working the second field as hard as they were working the first field today.

I suspect that there are so many variables involved that by the time I finally get buckwheat honey production figured out, I will be too old to move bees to buckwheat anymore.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

Post Reply