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Thread: smartweed?

  1. #1

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    Is anyone familiar with smartweed as a nectar source. Our garden this year, sadly neglected, was overrun by weeds. We began cleaning it this week and it was covered with smartweed and the bees were devouring the small pink flowers. Is this a good source of nectar? Does it make good honey? Anyone have any experience with this weed? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Odessa, Missouri
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    629

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    Smartweed produces a honey almost as dark as buckwheat as they are both in the same plant family.

    Smartweed honey has a distinct aroma which many people do not like and the flavor is strong but not bad in my opinion.

    Honey packers hate honey laced with smartweed.

    Bees winter good on smartweed. Slow to crystalize.
    Bob Harrison

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,492

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    >Is anyone familiar with smartweed as a nectar source.

    It's a big part of the fall flow here.

    >Our garden this year, sadly neglected, was overrun by weeds. We began cleaning it this week and it was covered with smartweed and the bees were devouring the small pink flowers.

    Yes they do.

    > Is this a good source of nectar?

    For the bees? Absolutely.

    > Does it make good honey?
    IMO? I like it. But then I like to drink esspreso with just cream. [img]smile.gif[/img] It's got a bitter aftertaste and some people hate it.

    > Anyone have any experience with this weed?

    Every fall. I plant it on purpose.

    As Rob says, it's a relative of Buckwheat. It's just a wild variety.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Odessa, Missouri
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    629

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    Also comes in a white varity but the pink is the most common.

    I sometimes move hives into the Blackwater River bottoms in fall ( not this year) with around a thousand acres of smartweed in a wet year when the river has been out of its banks.

    The bees really build up and winter good after the fall smartweed flow.

    Not a lot of smartweed in the bottoms this year when I looked a couple weeks ago so decided not worth the trouble and gasoline.

    My colonies are on the third pollen pattie made from real pollen. This year you almost never see a bee with pollen on its legs at the hive entrance. Drought I guess.

    Some years we get so much pollen I have to pull frames of pollen to give the queen room to raise winter bees.

    Every year is different.

    My friend Michael Vanarsdall ( Walthill, Nebraska) has had a bumper crop and is seeing a nice fall flow but he got the rains we needed this year. He is a couple hundred miles north of me.

    Our area had the worse honey crop since I have been keeping bees in Missouri.
    Bob Harrison

  5. #5

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    Thanks guys. Mr. Bush, you say you plant it intentionally - how much do you plant? I read somewhere recently that it takes an acre of buckwheat to support one colony - that sounds a little much to me, but I'm no expert. I assume that any bit would help.

    My garden beds are 8x8 feet. I was thinking about planting buckwheat in a few of those at the end of the growing season for the bees. I wonder if smartweed would be a better choice - maybe more nectar that buckwheat. I personally like buckwheat honey.

    The smartweed I've noticed grew where my garden area was, not in the pastures bordering it. I might take a tour of the place this week and see if it is growing in abundance anywhere else (I mowed most of it down in the garden) before thinking about growing some.

    Thanks all for the info!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Thanks guys. Mr. Bush, you say you plant it intentionally - how much do you plant?

    The seeds are easy to gather, I just plant the ditch banks for not more than two miles in every direction. Mostly I just plant withing a hundred yards of my bees.

    >I read somewhere recently that it takes an acre of buckwheat to support one colony - that sounds a little much to me, but I'm no expert. I assume that any bit would help.

    My theory is things that bloom early and late help the most as far as getting them by. Other things, that I don't plant, make the crop.

    >My garden beds are 8x8 feet. I was thinking about planting buckwheat in a few of those at the end of the growing season for the bees. I wonder if smartweed would be a better choice - maybe more nectar that buckwheat. I personally like buckwheat honey.

    They work them both. Probably the smartweed makes more.

    I also plant goldenrod, sweet clover, white clover, trefoil, alfalfa, buckwheat and chicory.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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