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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just read a thread posted by Myron Denny asking about soybeans as a source for pollen/nectar. I have the same question about cotton.

I live in the largest cotton producing area in the world. However, my bees seemed to ignore the cotton for the most part. Most cotton in my area is now BT cotton(genetically modified for boll weevil prevention) and round up ready. The farmer that owned the fields didn't spray except to apply a growth regulator. Cotton blooms a long time, but I never noticed much bee activity.

I've read in some older books cotton is an excellent honey plant. Anyone have any input?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Rohe....I guess what your saying is they are still planting cotton...but your bees aren't working it either. Anyone else seeing the same thing??
 

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My bees worked a 300 acre patch of cotton really well this year. Not a lot of BT cotton here yet. Putting bees on cotton here is pretty much a death sentence. They still spray here for the boll weevil. Which you’re ok unless they find a weevil in the trap. Then it’s an all out aerial attack. I didn’t know about the cotton my bees were on for a while. When I found it I walked around in the field and bees were working it hard.

I talked to a farmer close to me that grows a lot of cotton. A beekeeper next door to him moves his hives when he plants the cotton, due to the spraying.
 

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I live in cullman,al and alot of beek's took there bees north to cotton.From what they told me they was more honey come from cotton then our honey flow this past season.
 

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Re: cotton for honey/gmo info

Can they work bt cotton? Are they getting anything off it? Will it kill them? Anybody done a comprehensive (or less) list of honey crop (traditional ag) plants that are now gmos? Anybody know which gmo crops are now harmful/useless to honey bees? What is with the new "round-up ready" soybeans, etc.? Anybody? I try to place my hives on pasture, but I have a few (old) locations in heavy ag areas that used to be great, but are drying up. This needs to be addressed. Where are the studies? Anybody doing these? I know Monsanto isnt.
 

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I'm just a tad too far north for cotton, but many of my buddies work cotton as it starts about 30 miles south of me.

They get fantastic crops of honey from cotton planted in this area, 100 pounds plus per hive. It's a late season honey and the colonies are built up real well to bring in that nectar.

The downside, however, is that colonies are short-lived and die out from the necessary sprays. Many wish there was other places to place hives than cotton, but the lure of big honey crops keeps them coming back.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Grant, do you know if they are working BT, round-up ready cotton or non GM varieties?
 

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down in Ga. they will work and make honey on BT Cotton but it depends on what soil type it is plantd in. Sandy soil does good, georgia red clay doesnt produce. this year they sprayed for army worms and stinkbugs alot in south ga. but north ga they didnt have to spray as much. I made some honey on it this year but it varies greatly from year to year.
 

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I will second Ga.beeman's comment. Below the gnat line (a line drawn from Columbus to Augusta) where the soil is sandy the cotton will provide nectar. Above that line red clay is the predominate soil type and cotton is not a good honey crop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I had an old beek recently tell me bees wouldn't work the BT, round-up ready cotton because it had pink/red blooms. I have since found out as the cotton bloom matures it changes color. When the new flowers bloom, they are white, then gradually turn yellow as the bloom matures and at the final stage before falling off, they are pink/red.

I had another thought as to why I didn't see many bees on the cotton. I only had ten hives next to about 100 acres. The bees were spread mighty thin. What kind of stocking rate(hives/acre)have some of you used/recommend for cotton?

Many thanks to all who have given me input(and hope)for the new varieties of cotton as a honey plant. Thanks also for the comments on soil type. I'm in luck because around my area, most of the soil is sandy loam and probably more than 70% of the cotton is irrigated.
 

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Another thing about cotton is that it has external nectaries on its stem. So, even if it isn't in bloom it may exude some nectar. I've seen bees collect it. In additiion to the health of the bees, I'm concerned about the growth regulators, fungicides and other chemicals that are sprayed, even on Bt cotton and the fact that it surely contaminates the honey produced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
good point Dan. I've been reading how fungicides can synergize with other chemical residues and be more toxic to bees than either of the two by themselves. I'm not sure what the ingredients are in the growth regulators. Does anyone know? What is their toxicity to bees if any?
 

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Very true. Just because they say Bt cotton is sprayed a lot less doesn't mean it's never sprayed. Last year several beeks lost a lot of hives in this area that were killed on Bt cotton when the farmer gave no notice of upcoming spraying.

I would love to take advantage of cotton's mid-summer nectar flow when everything else around here is in a dearth, but I've never been brave enough to try cotton -- and probably won't be for a while.
 

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I am on 200 acres of Round-Up ready now, but it will not be in bloom till June. Anyone else have any more experiences to add? Bad idea? Will they work it? This dependent on soil type alone?
 

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I talked to a cotton farmer her in the Texas panhandle in Motley County and he plants the BT cotton. He told me he hasn't sprayed cotton in 4-5 years. Just doesn't need it. I plan on putting my hives on the cotton and work a relationship with him that IF he sprays, he'll tell me first.

I'm going to see just how much honey this cotton will produce. Out here in the greater Lubbock, TX area, cotton abounds.
 

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you should do good if it is sandy soil but if not you may not do very good. the framers that i put them on let me know if they need to spray and i come in and move them out for a few days. they dont have to spray very much but they do spray from time to time...good luck David
 

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I have some cotton honey now that was harvested in Northern Alabama last summer. Many area beeks told me that they had the best honey crop in years last year because of the cotton. Without bees on cotton, last year was a poor honey year for most in this area. Got some bees on a 100 acres of crimson clover right now and will move them to cotton in late June.
 

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Here in California, cotton is probably the most reliable source of nectar that there is. You can count on it 4th of July. Water white, not much flavor, granulates real hard. Not too much spraying until August when the bolls start to form, then watch out. The defoliants aren't too good for bees either. If there is corn nearby the bees keep raising some brood but if not and you leave the bees and supers until late August there won't be much of a cluster left. We used to have over a million acres of cotton but now there is less than 200,000 acres. Pima is later than Alcala, and some say it yields more nectar.
 
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