Monday, 27 February 2017

What do the bees eat when the manuka is finished?

This has been a terrible year for manuka. All over NZ it seems, the manuka flowering never really got going. And just like that - a whole honey season is done!

So, what do bees eat when the manuka is finished?

Well, it turns out that even though manuka honey is the prized honey, the bees are just so-so about manuka nectar. They'll go to manuka if they have to, but given the choice they'll go somewhere else first.

Good beekeepers have a few tricks up their sleeves to encourage bees to go to manuka flowers. If you'd like to learn what these are, check out Module 5: A Good Apiary Site, which will show you the secret tricks to placing your hives, as well as all the things you need to know to ensure your hives are healthy.

But back to the question: What do the bees eat next?

One of the big food sources right now is clover. And the bees just love clover.

Clover is one of the legume family. It has nodules that fix nitrogen in the soil. And nitrogen is an important fertiliser. So getting your clover to produce well is a very cheap form of natural fertiliser.

Clover is an important food crop for grazing animals - think cows and beef. And the big benefit of bees on clover is that they pollinate the flowers. So the next year the clover reseeds more abundantly.

So here we have it - a win win - the bees love clover, and the clover loves bees.

Clover honey is not a pricey as manuka honey, but the bees need to stay alive too. Ready for next season.

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