Honey 2
bee on dandelionA black bee on dandelion
Dandelion is the first major source of nectar after the winter. Its presence is seen if honey is taken off in June; this honey rapidly granulates. The major tree sources through late Spring and early Sumer are sycamore, horse chestnut and especially lime. Bramble puts out its first flowers in the first week in May; this is a chief source of nectar for the bees. Other wild flowers include charlock, clover, knapweed, rose bay willow herb and Himalayan balsam. The honey produced from these wild flowers is very mild but surprisingly varies from season to season.
Pollen grains from the flowers on which the bees forage will be found in each jar of honey. This combination of pollen acts as a fingerprint identifying the area in which the bees have foraged over the summer.
In autumn the mature ivy flowers in profusion and provides a very valuable nectar source for the winter stores.
The main pollen sources in the Stonyhurst area are shown in the chart.
The two species of gorse in particular provide a valuable pollen source all through the year.
It is a fascinating exercise to observe the bees and to try to identify the pollen sources.
Two colours in particular remain unidentified:

Copious amounts of a pure white pollen are seen in August (hedge bindweed ??).

But more surprising is a spectacular luminous orange pollen seen towards the end of August and early September.
A suggestion is that the bees could be collecting this from Poplar leaf rust fungus (Melampsora larici-populina)

In a short article by W. H. Lang. [22] written in 1901 observations on how honey bees use rust fungus as a pollen substitute are described.
pollen chart
Next Page: Honey 3
poplar leaf rust fungus pollen black bee with luminescent orange "pollen"
possibly from Poplar leaf rust fungus.
ivy pollenAlso in early to late October copious amounts of a bright orange/yellow pollen are brought in by the bees. The only possible source at this time is the ivy although most reference sources refer to the colour of ivy pollen being a dull yellow.

As the photo shows this pollen is anything but dull !