Does anyone know a good reference for finding out when your regional blooms occur? No beekeeping meeting for a few months yet...
Ben Brewcat brewing in Lyons, CO
You can use growing degree days:
They are used to track insect development as well as plant growth, but I haven't been able to find a chart of how many it takes for common plants to bloom.
Also, jfischer is a proponent of this and will chime in, I'm sure. I meant to try it this year, but didn't and it's back on the to-do list for 2005.
you can try your local ag dept, county extension, or forestry dept.
If you type "bloom date" into google,
you get 4400 hits. If you search
for "phenology", you get 285000 hits,
proving that a classical education
including Latin and Greek pays off.
But what you really want to track is
Master gardeners might track degree-days,
certainly anyone who grows a crop would,
but few people care about "nectar plants",
so you may have to invest a few minutes
a week this year to be able to reap the
benefit for the rest of your life.
I wrote a pair of articles for Beeculture
that contain step-by-step instructions
on how to do this. The articles were
called "Whither Weather?", and "Be a Budding
Genius, Not A Blooming Idiot". Jan 02 and
Feb 02, respectively.
I have bugged Bee Culture repeatedly about
putting all my articles online, and they
haven't said "no", but they are in the
middle of re-working their whole website,
including the "archives". I know that
you can get an inter-library loan copy
from any public library for free.
Would those Bee Culture articles happen to have a list of the GDD's needed for common nectar plants to bloom? I subscribe, but only for the past year. Any way we could cajole you into posting some of what I suspect is an extensive and meticulous list? Some maple syrup perhaps?
Dcross, If you sap, then you have the start of your list. One of the earliest nectar and pollen sources for the season are the soft maples. They have budded and bloomed, before the hard maples have finished their flow. About the same time as the soft maples, the popular, and then the willows.
[This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited December 10, 2004).]
As was suggested, your local Ag dept should have that info for you. Ours has it online. Too, NC State Beekeepers Association Members receive a calendar with bloom times for all the different areas of the state. Comes in real handy.
I haven't gotten around to sapping yet either, but I like that word, makes me feel like I'm planning to attack a medieval fortification! Anyhoo, I'm no stranger to watching plants develop, growing up farming, it's just second nature. And to make it simpler, I can actually see soft maple branches as I sit here typing, but the last three years, the weather has prevented the bees from working them to any degree, including an ice storm that did a very nice job of turning my lawn red by removing every single bloom from the trees. In short, I want to use growing degree days so I can anticipate when things are going to happen, and I'm looking for something along the lines of "dandelions begin to bloom at x number of GDD's". I can ballpark most plants bloom times here, but I want to predict it more closely, and jim has written some things in the past that lead me to believe he might have what I'm looking for.
<<You can know exactly. This way, you can avoid "drastic hive manipulations".
and avoid the associated labor. I've been advocating tracking growing
degree-days as a way to nail down blooms to within a few days for years now,
and I've yet to find any other beekeeper even trying it. Discouraging.>>
> jim has written some things in the past
> that lead me to believe he might have
> what I'm looking for.
I'm not going to claim to have the perfect
list, as my area of Virginia has a unique
set of nectar plants simply not found
elsewhere (Tulip Poplar, Sourwood, etc),
and I am working in the mountains, where
the degree-days required tend to be higher
than they would in the valley, due to
colder nights and slower warm-ups during
Each state has several "climatic regions",
so while GDDs from one state or region
certainly can give one a good idea of when
the same plant will bloom in your area,
there is no assurance that the exact same
number will be accurate in a different
So, you have to do it for yourself, or
start a project with other local beekeepers.
I can't do it for you.
Hey brewcat, what do you brew? Mead, wine, and beer here.
Dadant's Hive and the Honey Bee has a section that expleins the major and minor honey plants for states, along with the months of flow. Not more specific than that. What I do is cross reference this with Honey Plants of North America, a book in reprint from many years ago. This discusses some things in a little more detail.
Beer, mead, wine, cider, sake, soda, kombucha, and whatever else I can come up with. It's a fine line between hobby and mental illness [Dave Barry]. Thanks everyone! I am an anal recordkeeper (you might guess from the brewing) but wanted to have a heads-up on some flows the first year.
Anyone considered a meadmaking forum? I've taught I dunno how many folks (easily a hundred) how to make mead when I managed the local homebrew shop in Boulder...
Ben Brewcat brewing in Lyons, CO
>I am an anal recordkeeper (you might guess from the brewing)
I'd have guessed from the drinking, but then I couldn't drink enough to make me keep those kind of records!
I have my first three batches of mead brewing right now. Once I figured out how simple it is to do I started a batch every two weeks. I may never sell my honey again.
I like racking it from carboy to carboy the best, after all you NEED to drink enough to keep track of it's progress, right?
Being a little green, it brings a new meaning to Aster Blaster Mead
> Anyone considered a meadmaking forum?
If there are members who would like one, I'll start another forum for mead making.
Racking is fun for sure... you'll naturally want to take a gravity sample which must be consumed afterwards. Oh, the sacrifices we make for a good mead. Make sure to ferment it out completely before bottling! The most common problem is bottle grenades or geysers; mead fermentations, especially absent added nutrients, can limp along for months with a stealthy fermentation (to untrained eyes). Since meads generally age well, don't be in a hurry to get it into the bottle!
Ben Brewcat brewing in Lyons, CO
Love to see a meadmaking forum.
My 2nd batch is bubbling as I type.
I plan on using the raspberries in the freezer to make a raspberry melomel.Maybe even a gallon of it "sparkling".How much honey to carbonate one gal.at bottling?
I've brewed beer for a number of years so I understand the basics.
Has anyone tried polen as a yeast nutrient?
I refuse to use sulfites and would like to keep all chems out of my mead.