-Posted by Isaac
The goldenrod is upon us. For bees and beekeepers alike, it's like manna from heaven.
This beautiful sunny week, you could walk into any bee yard and immediately smell the dirty socks. That's right, just like a basket of old laundry. When goldenrod nectar is coming in and the bees are rushing to dry it before the coming October cold, the air is filled with a rank musty odor. It sort of brings me back to my days of camper living. Gives me a chance to reminisce.
But that's a blog for another day. For now, I'm going to show you some pics from pollen collection. When goldenrod season begins, the pollen changes to a bright orange and the traps really start to fill.
We've been waiting for this. In August the traps went on. It's a tedious affair, requiring the lifting of every box. This year we're running about 65 traps in four yards.
This particular yard doubled as a comb honey yard. Mid-August, the comb boxes came off and the traps went on. Along with a couple pounds of protein. If you're going to be taking the pollen, the bees need a supplement. I try to give every hive in the pollen yards at least six pounds of patties over the next 40 days.
Another tedious aspect of pollen collection- getting the bees to maneuver through those traps. They don't exactly enjoy learning a new route, and will avoid the traps if they can find an alternative. Duct tape, as always, is a handy thing to have around.
I pick four yards that are not on pallets. The Sundance traps that we have are designed for hives on individual stands. Last year I acquired a few side-drawer traps that are made specifically for palletized hives, but still ran into complications. Now they just reside on individual hives, but are emptied from the side instead of the back.
The August pollen starts coming in as browns, greens, grays and whites. Soon the ragweed blooms and it turns a bright yellow.
For about two weeks you get a mix of yellow and brown, and then, slowly you start to see some orange. The taste changes with the color. I can tell what's in bloom by the look on Eden's face.
Suddenly, on a hot week in September, everything turns to a brilliant orange. The goldenrod!
The traps fill so quickly, you have to make the rounds at least every other day. Everything goes into the freezers after it is collected. We start with buckets, but soon move to black plastic bags when space gets limited.
From there, it waits.
It just occurred to me that the cleaning and packing process may be of interest. Not to mention a possible blog post on the benefits of bee pollen. I'll try to collect some photos in the coming weeks.
But for now, with the goldenrod in full bloom, we've got to focus on the collecting.
If I'm lucky, I'll get a kid or two along for company. Maizy was with me the other evening and as usual, grabbed my camera. I mostly like to make the rounds in the mornings. It's cool, the bees are quiet, and you can pretty much do the job in shorts if you want to. Even in your tighty whities, which is sometimes fun in the murky veil of early dawn.
But in the evening it's a different story. The bees are still active and hot, having just worked a long day collecting the very pollen you're about to take. You learn quickly- bring a suit.