Hallucinogenic Honey?

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Dallas went off on one of her of her Nature Walks, but for the very first time I wasn’t allowed to go along. Genepi and I don’t really understand this pre-occupation with bugs, flowers and such – but normally we go along with it, because whilst she’s prattling around with a camera, we get to play hide and seek in the undergrowth, and chase rabbits.

thornapple1Today the focus was in the corner of a nearby sunflower field, where the flowers weren’t big, round and yellow but long, thin and white. Exquisite. And Dangerous.

There’s an extensive patch of Thorn Apple (Datura stamonium), also know as Jimson Weed or Devil’s Snare.  It is HIGHLY TOXIC and belongs to the Nightshade family. Now I know why we are locked in the kitchen. Imagine Genepi high on some psychoactive stimulant. She’s mental enough as it is.

All parts of this Datura plant contain dangerous levels of  substances classified as deleriants or hallucinogens. This didn’t stop the bees from collecting pollen / nectar.

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They were out in force. Diving right down into the tube.

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Emerging some seconds later, seemingly compos mentis.

This does beg the question : What does this do to the resultant honey?

To quote from Wikipedia ‘Some substances which are toxic to humans have no effect on bees. If bees obtain their nectar from certain flowers, the resulting honey can be psychoactive, or even toxic to humans, but innocuous to bees and their larvae.’ So its okay for the bees, but the honey may well be toxic.

This is a massive blow. Having lost one hive to wax moth, this probably means that the honey from the remaining hive should be ditched. Further research is now required. Any information will be gratefully received.

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Sunflower Safari

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Sunflowers to the north of us, sunflowers to the south of us. They have got us surrounded. The farmer planted them later than everyone else’s, as usual. And they are now at their peak.

Dallas declared it time for a Nature Walk, to principally check out the bee activity on the sunflowers. And also to see what other bugs and butterflies are out and about.

True enough, the sunflowers were abuzz.

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Coming up to midday, and its getting hot.

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The thistles and teasels were also teeming with life. Butterflies, beetles and bumblebees…

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Spiders and wasps…

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But the key thing is that those honey bees are out working their little socks off, and very soon we will be able to see if they have managed to perform their alchemy. And transform sunflower dust into scrummy honey.

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Honey harvest in about two weeks time, all being well.

 

A Tale of Two Hives

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We were rejigging the strawberry patch. I have made an Observation about the vegetable patch. During a couple of weekends in late spring, They put plants into the ground, and then spend all the rest of the summer pulling other plants out.

Andy says its called Weeding. It seems to take up an inordinate amount of time.

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There was a strange noise – it started as a low hum, and got louder and louder. And then a black cloud came low over the trees. Aaarghh, a swarm of bees coming straight at us. Run for cover.

We made it indoors and luckily they buzzed off quite quickly. But from whence had they come? Time to check out our hives.

Hive Bee was fine and dandy. Lots of bees and lots of lovely, sticky honey.

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Sadly the same could not be said for Hive A. It was completely infested with Wax Moth, and it must have been our bees who had just emigrated. The hive was in a right old state. Quite repulsive. Upsetting. And needing some urgent action.

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As there were no bees in residence, no viable colony, it was an easy decision to simply destroy the whole lot. All the frames were thrown on the bonfire and burnt.

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And the shell of the hive thoroughly cleaned out. It will be treated with a blow torch too to get rid of any remaining eggs. And will be beepopulated next year.

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To end on a happy note, here is a Carpeneter Bee either pollinating or being pollenated by a Passion Flower.

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