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Thread: Buckwheat

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph, NC, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Buckwheat

    Hi everyone!

    I plan on starting two hives, from two 5-frame nucs, in a rural area of NC. I have approx an acre of fallow land. Rather than gamble on quality/quantity etc of letting the wildflowers grow out, I have decided to try to plant a bit of buckwheat, approx 1 acre.

    I got really interested in growing it as a honey crop after reading about buckwheat honey, and had an opportunity to try some last night at the beekeepers meeting, and just fell in love with it. I found locally sourced seed as well, so I am super anxious to try it out.

    I plan on planting quite a bit of Golden rod as well, for a fall crop to help my girls with winter stores.

    So my questions:

    First off, is this enough land for primarily buckwheat honey? I understand it would probably take much more land to isolate the hives enough to make it "pure", but I figured a relatively small plot would add quite a bit of unique character, hopefully helping me sell my unique local honey.

    What kind of yield can I expect with two 8-frame hives from nucs? Does your answer give me surplus, or total?

    One of the "oldtimers" (not to sound derogatory) told me that it would take only three weeks to bloom. He also said that I can chop 'em down and get another bloom from them when they finished. Does anyone with experience growing buckwheat know if this is possible?

    Can I use the mowed buckwheat as hay for my chickens?

    As far as the goldenrod, I figured if I left a bit of the "buckwheat" honey behind, and just had some supplemental goldenrod growing near by, it would help build stores for the winter, I plan on leaving 2 medium supers, as I am told this is a good amount for my area, and goldenrod blooms in the fall. We have rather mild winters here.

    Also, if anyone sees any problems, or tweaks to my plan, I'm all ears!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    Absoultly not enough ground to get much flavor at all of buckwheat honey. I run 5 acres and put a hive in the middle and can't tell its buckwheat. those bees need more area.

    Buckwheat does indeed bloom in about 3 weeks, and keeps blloms for about another 3 so 6-8 weeks between plantings. mowings. Chickens like it just fine...

    AS for how much honey... depends on hive strenght, mites and plants avalible but US average is about 45lbs of surplus Some hives will generate 300 and some will barley make any.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Columbia, Goochland, VA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    From what I have read and understand about buckwheat is that the American strands commonly found at local seed suppliers like Southern states rarely produce a honey crop, the seed has been modified so much that grain producers won't even purchase the seed. Basically it is not good for much other than a cover crop, which it is superb, but can't be used within pollinating distance of Japanese buckwheat.

    If you want to look for a good honey crop from buckwheat then you need to find Japanese buckwheat. It is much more expensive, but produces much more nectar. The best source I have found for Japanese buckwheat is the sustainable seed company. I have been trying to convince a local farmer to plant some, but at 170.00 a 50# bag, it is a hard sell when it seeds at about 50# per acre.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Deming, NM
    Posts
    105

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    Quote Originally Posted by papamoose View Post
    From what I have read and understand about buckwheat is that the American strands commonly found at local seed suppliers like Southern states rarely produce a honey crop, the seed has been modified so much that grain producers won't even purchase the seed. Basically it is not good for much other than a cover crop.
    I wonder if this explains why buckwheat is not eaten in America. My Russian wife cooks it all the time, and it's at least as tasty as oatmeal or quinoa, grits, etc. But, we have noticed that its extremely important to buy the correct variety of buckwheat groats- we order it from Russian online food stores that import it from the Russia or Ukraine. Get the wrong kind (American?) and it's just a nasty, sticky mush.

    She had asked me about buckwheat honey the other day, as it is common in Russia, and apparently quite well-liked.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph, NC, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Absoultly not enough ground to get much flavor at all of buckwheat honey. I run 5 acres and put a hive in the middle and can't tell its buckwheat. those bees need more area.

    Buckwheat does indeed bloom in about 3 weeks, and keeps blloms for about another 3 so 6-8 weeks between plantings. mowings. Chickens like it just fine...

    AS for how much honey... depends on hive strenght, mites and plants avalible but US average is about 45lbs of surplus Some hives will generate 300 and some will barley make any.....
    Thanks! I didn't think it would be quite enough to call it "pure" buckwheat, but I just thought it might add a unique characteristic, and darker color to my local variety. Would have just been nice to hear it would of been more pure nicker:

    But thanks for the info!

    Quote Originally Posted by papamoose View Post
    From what I have read and understand about buckwheat is that the American strands commonly found at local seed suppliers like Southern states rarely produce a honey crop, the seed has been modified so much that grain producers won't even purchase the seed. Basically it is not good for much other than a cover crop, which it is superb, but can't be used within pollinating distance of Japanese buckwheat.

    If you want to look for a good honey crop from buckwheat then you need to find Japanese buckwheat. It is much more expensive, but produces much more nectar. The best source I have found for Japanese buckwheat is the sustainable seed company. I have been trying to convince a local farmer to plant some, but at 170.00 a 50# bag, it is a hard sell when it seeds at about 50# per acre.
    Our local supplier is a mom and pop type store, not a chain. They have a few beekeeping supplies, and say they have people come in to make a bee garden, and in fact pretty much only carry the buckwheat seed for them. But I have never seen buckwheat honey anywhere in the state. The jar last night I tried at the club meeting was a 2.5lb jar from New Jersey.

    I wonder if this is why we aren't seeing it around here, it just isn't the right kind. I will definitely look into this. Thank you for that heads up!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jdawdy View Post
    I wonder if this explains why buckwheat is not eaten in America. My Russian wife cooks it all the time, and it's at least as tasty as oatmeal or quinoa, grits, etc. But, we have noticed that its extremely important to buy the correct variety of buckwheat groats- we order it from Russian online food stores that import it from the Russia or Ukraine. Get the wrong kind (American?) and it's just a nasty, sticky mush.

    She had asked me about buckwheat honey the other day, as it is common in Russia, and apparently quite well-liked.
    I tried it, and saw it in person for the first time last night. I've read about it hear and there, but finally got to try it (mentioned above) It is phenomenal in my opinion! It has a nice mouthfeel, dark and rich flavor, with a sweet-molasses after taste and undertone. I loved it! Also got to try some sour-wood. It was quite good too, but aside from the buckwheat, our local wildflower variety was the best. It was the smoothest honey I've ever had. Delicate, sweet but not overly so. Try looking online, I'm sure you can find some buckwheat honey! A happy wife is a happy home right?

    What do you guys think about my golden rod idea?


    So if buckwheat wouldn't work well, what about lavender or borage? I know for a fact lavender does well on this particular plot of land, and I'm still researching borage. I like the buckwheat idea simply because of its uniqueness, but also because it could turn into feed, and hay, so multi-purpose.

    Lavender I could extract, but other than snack on borage I'm not sure what it would be good for, or if it would even do well here.

    My overall goal is to find the most useful plant I can, that would most greatly benefit my ladies. At least more-so than just letting the land fallow. I don't think that this years allotment of land is going to be enough to label my stuff :insert variety:, but i'm more looking for something that could add a uniqueness to my local-honey as opposed to someone a town over who just lets them go where ever without paying much attention to these things/using land efficiently.

    I have also thought about putting some thyme down on the back 10 acre, and letting it spread so that in a few years it would probably give me a varietal honey, or so I think. :Shrug: i'm just a new-beek!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph, NC, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Absoultly not enough ground to get much flavor at all of buckwheat honey. I run 5 acres and put a hive in the middle and can't tell its buckwheat. those bees need more area.

    Buckwheat does indeed bloom in about 3 weeks, and keeps blloms for about another 3 so 6-8 weeks between plantings. mowings. Chickens like it just fine...

    AS for how much honey... depends on hive strenght, mites and plants avalible but US average is about 45lbs of surplus Some hives will generate 300 and some will barley make any.....
    Thanks! I didn't think it would be quite enough to call it "pure" buckwheat, but I just thought it might add a unique characteristic, and darker color to my local variety. Would have just been nice to hear it would of been more pure nicker:

    But thanks for the info!

    Quote Originally Posted by papamoose View Post
    From what I have read and understand about buckwheat is that the American strands commonly found at local seed suppliers like Southern states rarely produce a honey crop, the seed has been modified so much that grain producers won't even purchase the seed. Basically it is not good for much other than a cover crop, which it is superb, but can't be used within pollinating distance of Japanese buckwheat.

    If you want to look for a good honey crop from buckwheat then you need to find Japanese buckwheat. It is much more expensive, but produces much more nectar. The best source I have found for Japanese buckwheat is the sustainable seed company. I have been trying to convince a local farmer to plant some, but at 170.00 a 50# bag, it is a hard sell when it seeds at about 50# per acre.
    Our local supplier is a mom and pop type store, not a chain. They have a few beekeeping supplies, and say they have people come in to make a bee garden, and in fact pretty much only carry the buckwheat seed for them. But I have never seen buckwheat honey anywhere in the state. The jar last night I tried at the club meeting was a 2.5lb jar from New Jersey.

    I wonder if this is why we aren't seeing it around here, it just isn't the right kind. I will definitely look into this. Thank you for that heads up!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jdawdy View Post
    I wonder if this explains why buckwheat is not eaten in America. My Russian wife cooks it all the time, and it's at least as tasty as oatmeal or quinoa, grits, etc. But, we have noticed that its extremely important to buy the correct variety of buckwheat groats- we order it from Russian online food stores that import it from the Russia or Ukraine. Get the wrong kind (American?) and it's just a nasty, sticky mush.

    She had asked me about buckwheat honey the other day, as it is common in Russia, and apparently quite well-liked.
    I tried it, and saw it in person for the first time last night. I've read about it hear and there, but finally got to try it (mentioned above) It is phenomenal in my opinion! It has a nice mouthfeel, dark and rich flavor, with a sweet-molasses after taste and undertone. I loved it! Also got to try some sour-wood. It was quite good too, but aside from the buckwheat, our local wildflower variety was the best. It was the smoothest honey I've ever had. Delicate, sweet but not overly so. Try looking online, I'm sure you can find some buckwheat honey! A happy wife is a happy home right?

    What do you guys think about my golden rod idea?


    So if buckwheat wouldn't work well, what about lavender or borage? I know for a fact lavender does well on this particular plot of land, and I'm still researching borage. I like the buckwheat idea simply because of its uniqueness, but also because it could turn into feed, and hay, so multi-purpose.

    Lavender I could extract, but other than snack on borage I'm not sure what it would be good for, or if it would even do well here.

    My overall goal is to find the most useful plant I can, that would most greatly benefit my ladies. At least more-so than just letting the land fallow. I don't think that this years allotment of land is going to be enough to label my stuff :insert variety:, but i'm more looking for something that could add a uniqueness to my local-honey as opposed to someone a town over who just lets them go where ever without paying much attention to these things/using land efficiently.

    I have also thought about putting some thyme down on the back 10 acre, and letting it spread so that in a few years it would probably give me a varietal honey, or so I think. :Shrug: i'm just a new-beek!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Columbia, Goochland, VA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    I did some more digging through my files on the subject because I thought I had found a place much cheaper than the one I listed above, and I found it. This site is only a little more expensive than what you might pay for the US types. The site is Fedco seeds. They are running $85 a 50# bag. Here is the link directly to the catalog page, http://www.fedcoseeds.com/forms/ogs35_cat.pdf

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,461

    Default Re: Buckwheat

    Quote Originally Posted by jdawdy View Post
    I wonder if this explains why buckwheat is not eaten in America. My Russian wife cooks it all the time, and it's at least as tasty as oatmeal or quinoa, grits, etc. But, we have noticed that its extremely important to buy the correct variety of buckwheat groats- we order it from Russian online food stores that import it from the Russia or Ukraine. Get the wrong kind (American?) and it's just a nasty, sticky mush.

    She had asked me about buckwheat honey the other day, as it is common in Russia, and apparently quite well-liked.
    Yes, buckwheat is very well respected in Russia (I am Russian). Hot cereal from buckwheat has a lot of minerals and other good stuff and recommended for kids. Buckwheat honey along with linden honey is considered to be one of the best for its medicinal qualities - it is used to treat sore throat and complications of cold. Sergey
    Серёжа, Sergey

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