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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been reading this forum for quite some time, and seen little if any posts on cotton blossom flow. I started in the spring with 4 nucs and added a ferral hive later. the nucs are now 2 deeps full except for a couple frames in the top deep. I added a med. super last Sat. haven't checked them since. I have them in the middle of about 500 acres of cotton and milo. The cotton is in full bloom, and the milo is heading well. Soybeans are late this year due to dry weather. What should I expect from the cotton and the later soybean bloom?
Wooly
 

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My mentor had a friend (now deceased) that put his bees on cotton every year. Said he did well with it but personally he did not like the honey. I read a post somewher here about being careful of the bow-weevile spray ( and it was a very strong warning). I thought about doing it to try and build my bees up. Also considered soy-bean. Can't ssem to get much advice about soybean.
 

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I live in an area with lots of cotton fields. My bees generally make a LOT of cotton honey. The flavor is good, but not as good as the springtime honey we get. I have some neighbors that really love the cotton honey (they're in their mid-60's so perhaps they grew up with it). One bad thing about cotton honey is that it will crystallize quickly. A fall harvest is generally solid by Christmas. Its great for creamed honey, which is a market I'm trying to build. A really great thing about having bees near cotton is that it provides a very strong late summer flow that gives the beekeeper more opportunities for splits. I make most of my splits after the springtime flow and let them buildup on the cotton flow.

Its my understanding, and you experts correct me, that cotton was one of the most sprayed crops and as a result it was nearly impossible to keep bees near a cotton field. I have not experienced this at all. It could be related to the new form of cotton (Bt cotton - Bacillus thuringiensis), which is more resistant to pests. In the past four years, I've only seen one minor pesticide kill and that was 4 years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am a part time crop duster. 30 years ago when I was a full time crop duster, we would spray methyl parathion for boll weevils every 10 days. usually that would be 13 times a year including defoliation. In the last 10 years all cotton growing states have sponsored a boll weevil eradication program. the program is now coming to a close. most states have successfully eradicated the boll weevil. Now cotton is usually only sprayed only 1 or 2 times a year. The first is an insecticid that is sprayed before the bloom, and the next is defoliation. The only time malathion will be sprayed is when and if the state inspector traps a boll weevil in oneof his traps positioned around the field. I feel pretty safe with my hives near the fields.
thanks for the comments
WOOLY
 

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WOOLY BEE,

That's really great information. That helps to explain the why my experience has been very different than what I typically hear about bees near cotton. Most published info appears to be quite dated (pre Bt and boll weevil programs).

What are the specifics regarding timing of these two sprayings? What type of insecticide and how long before bloom is it sprayed? Also, what chemical is used in the defoliation stage?

FYI, a really great description of cotton and its relationship to bees is given here:
http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap9/cotton.html
 

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I believe cotton honey is very reliant on soil type with dark rich soil producing the best. Sandy soil is variable at best. It is good to put your bees at least 100 yards off the cotton to minimumize pesticide loss. The boll weavil sprayers here can spray as often as once a week if triggered (weavils found in traps). Call the weavil people to let them know you are in the area. You can ask them to spray your area 1st thing in the morning or last in the afternoon. The sprayers in my area try to help you out if possible and will call before they spray.
 

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???? I am new at this but my bees were packing nector away like crazy after i put them in the edge of a cotton feild. What if i go back and the bees are dead, is the honey safe to eat??
 

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thanks for the hands on wooley bee.

then beemanisa sezs:
I believe cotton honey is very reliant on soil type with dark rich soil producing the best. Sandy soil is variable at best.

tecumseh replies:
my understanding also.
 
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