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I've been trying to track something down that arose in a friendly discussion in our local bee meeting. Most of us are under the assumption that corn is NOT a nectar source that contributes to honey production.

Others in our club cite anecdotal instances in which the "all the fields for miles" surrounding established bee yards were planted to corn and the hives produced ample honey.

And these are experienced, knowledgable beekeepers. It's not like there was a nectar producing crop over the hill. They had hives that only had corn to forage.

Anybody really know what, if any, nectar is supplied by corn?

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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"...really know ..."
nope, cant say ABSOLUTELY no, but i've never seen them work more than a LITTLE pollen. then again, even in kansas, i've never seen "...only had corn .." there are drainage and irrigation ditches,and swales, and roadbanks...
good luck,mike
 

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I've only observed bees collecting pollen from corn. Lots of corn here but no honey from it. The pollen is low in protein and thus of a poor quality.
 

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Can you actually tell if a bee is collecting nectar or not? If it has pollen of course you can see that, but does the presence of pollen eliminate the possibility that the bee is also collecting nectar. Or can you actually observe the bees collecting nectar?

Maybe I just need to look closer.
 

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Well, it would be hard to get nectar from a plant that doesn't make nectar. So, I really doubt that it happens.

If it did, don't you think that Corn Honey would be available everywhere where corn is planted? Iowa, corn country, is the home of Soiux Bee of Soiux City, IA. They are famous for their clover honey. Not corn honey.
 

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The inside pith of corn is sweet. It's very possible that aphids or some other kind of sapsucking bug are feeding on the corn plants, and the bees are collecting honeydew. I've cut down green cornstalks with a machete and had bees working the exposed pith.

I've never seen a cornfield that was completely free of weeds. Around here, there are thistles and white dutch clover and miscellaneous weeds growing in the corn, and driveways into the cornfields, and in the fencerows between cornfields, not to mention the weeds growing alongside the roads in the ditches.

I don't know how many streams there are in that area, but here there are many small streams, and it seems like you can always find some kind of creek weed the bees are working on.
 

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That makes all kinds of sense, but if their pollen baskets are full does that prove that they aren't also gathering nectar? I'm not arguing, just asking.
 

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Being a Warre hive guy, I have spent countless hours watching bees at the hive entrance. Maybe this sounds strange to some of you, but this is some of the best enjoyment I find in life. It is my meditation time and is very relaxing. The reason I am responding to this post isn't because I know the answer as to whether or not bees can produce large quantities of honey if they only have corn to forage, but because I want to point out that bees gathering nectar are usually noticeably fatter when they retun to the hive. Bees leaving the hive usually, or least often, have their rear ends elevated off the landing. If they don't there is still almost always at least a little space between their "butts" and the landing board. Bees returning with either pollen and nectar or nectar only appear fatter and drag their rears into the hive entrance. During a very heavy flow, when there is nectar literally everywhere, the bees return so fat that their rear legs cannot support the weight of their abdomens. You will see them entering the hive entrance in a manner that makes them look like they are swimming, as the literally skid their bodies into the hive. I have also noticed that bees carrying large amounts of nectar often take a long time to land, as if their ability to aim their bodies in the correct direction is impaired. They frequently "crash" into the hive and then fall to the ground, taking several minutes to regain enough strength to make the final flight to the entrance.

When I was in college in central Ohio, there were places where the twelve foot stalks of corn seemed to go on forever, but as some have already pointed out, there was always room for wild flowers and weeds, which may have been the actual source of the honey that the poster's friends were referring to. I have seen bees work corn, but rarely, and from what I recall they were carrying pollen. Were they getting nectar too? Don't know.:scratch:

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com
 

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Does that mean that a bee that is gathering pollen must return to the hive and unload before going back out to gather nectar, or does it mean that a bee simply doesn't gather both substances simultaneously?:scratch:
 

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Nasal, what about nectar collectors who get covered w/ pollen too. Aren't they multitasking?

Hey, a new stage of life of a honeybee, The Multitasker Bee.

But I'm serious about what I first said. Beehives go into the orchards w/ an empty super on them and come out w/ a full one. Does all of that honey come from dandelions? If so, we aught to call it what it is, not apple blossom honey.
 

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Dunno about the nectar, but my bees definitely work the pollen, it's pale yellow to pretty much white. In Beekeeping questions and answers, published by dadant in 1978, page 12, a study is cited which "found that of more than 13,000 bees being observed, 25% were gathering pollen, 58% nectar only, while 17% were collecting both nectar and pollen on the same trip."
 

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Their abdomen becomes swollen and slightly distended whenever they have a load of honey/nectar/water, or whatever liquid they are loading up on.

---------- NAY to corn as a nectar source:

There may be corn varieties that have extra-floral nectaries, but, if there are, I haven't heard of them. Since corn is a grass that is wind-pollinated, it has no need to attract insects (even honey bees) for pollination. If anyone knows of a variety of corn that can actually secrete nectar, please let me know -- I am always fascinated by "freaks of nature". As has been mentioned corn pollen is much lower in nutritional value than what bees need, besides the pollen bees collect from corn is then no longer available for actual pollination, since bees only visit the anthers and never the stigma (silks) of the corn plants, they do not affect the pollination of corn. There is no nectar secreted on or near the silk (stigma) of corn flowers, nor any other part of the corn plant.
 
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