Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

Did we miss tulip poplar this year?

4875 Views 23 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  tsmullins
We have a place in the NE panhandle of WV. The ravine next to our hives has a stand of magnificent old tulip poplars that ought to be a major honey source. We also have a number of black gum trees (aka black tupelo), and a fair amount of black locust scattered about.

A handful of black locusts bloomed this year, but most fizzled. That's no great surprise, just a disappointment.

The black tupelo probably bloomed, but the blooms are notoriously hard to spot, and we missed it .

But the tulip poplars have us baffled. At one point I thought I spotted a bloom in the top of one old tree, but I think it was a false alarm. We're into July now and they should have bloomed. We've been checking every week since the leaves started to show and have not seen any verifiable blooms.

The only mention of bloom dates on this tree I see in the Bloom Dates stickie is my mistaken sighting. Did any of you in the VA/WV/MD/PA area spot tulip poplar blooms, and if so when? And when would black gum/tupelo normally bloom in this area?
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
we got a strong tulip poplar bloom here, they make up about half the trees on my property. i should be in the same or very simlar zone as you. it came over a month ago, about 4 weeks late. suprisingly lasted maybe 3 weeks. suprisingly because we got several storms during that period that knocked all the blooms down, but then more popped up. also, i didnt notice the bees really working them.
BL i saw some flowers on a week ago next to a highway so i thought that was ready to take off. havent seen anything since. they should come now after the tulip poplars so if you caught the BL perhaps you missed the TP. idk anything about the gum/tupelo.
We get a tulip poplar flow in late April and early May but I can never see the blooms. Presumably because they bloom at the top of the tree instead of the lower branches. I look for the green-orange petals on the ground to determine the bloom status.
We got the nucs around May 7, before there were any leaves on the TP or BL. We noticed from the start that they were almost exclusively working something in the tree canopy. We never figured out what, but they were getting plenty of pollen, but kept accepting syrup. They're still drawing comb, and never have put on impressive stores. We now appear to be in a dearth. They suddenly switched to crown vetch about 2 weeks back, which seems to be a lot of work for little return.

Ah, well, we were not expecting much this year. Next year, drawn comb and a good flow from these delicious trees for sure.
The Yellow Poplar flow was light in my area this year. Trees had some bloom but not what one would like to see. The black locust was also non-existant in my area as well. Pulled honey from my strong hive yesterday. Only pulled 3 medium frames. Last year at this time I pulled 10 and pulled another 10 the middle of July. Does not look like I am going to get much of a honey harvest this year.
Had good tulip poplar and black locust flows this year.


See less See more
Im not far from you, the Tulip Poplar flow was strange this year, thought I missed it, but like an earlier poster said, it was late. It was like it started, dissappeared and cranked up but it has been gone for a good while, at least a month. G
Starter here April 27th and ran a good month. Big TP flow this year - conditions were pretty good.
We had a tulip poplar flow, but it was not quite as good as I was hoping. I did get six quarts from one hive though. We are in sourwood bloom right now and it looks pretty good.
Sounds like WV was indeed pretty weak this year, and it was not just my imagination.

Last fall there were NO acorns. Some years they fall so thick it like walking on marbles, but a neighbor told me a late frost killed the oak blossoms. With this late spring, I guess something like that must have interfered. My understanding is that black locust is only good one year in four.

Ah, well, we only have three hives and don't plan on commercial honey harvesting. We'll keep feeding as long as they need it, and find something else to give for Christmas.
A weak poplar flow here in Eastern Ky the last of May. The poplars here got bit back in late April by a cold snap. Cranking it in the past week with clover/sourwood.
Most of the TP nectar in East Tn. was used for late brood build up.
i was at my sisters house memorial weekend in north west tenn. by the mississippi river i noticed her tulip poplar in her yard was still blooming white clover was thick and comming on strong. i was in her back yard looking for bees on the clover didn't see any i herd a roar over head and there they were in the persimmon trees. there was so many bees up there at first i thought it was a swarm. so you never know what they are working
I'm in middle TN and it appeared the Tulip Poplar to be blooming as well as ever. Of course the white clover was in full force like I've never seen before and with that, this years honey was the lightest I've ever harvested in 20+ years. I've read before that it only takes a small amount of dark honey (in my case TP) to darker any light honey mixed in. If that's indeed true then the TP in my area produced very little nectar for the bees to forage on.
We've planted white clover and yellow clover, and neither our honeybees nor the native bees are paying a bit of attention to either. Frankly, it doesn't look that robust to me and I expect our soil is not quite right for it.
If you are near Harpers Ferry you are about 1/2 a climate zone cooler than here near Baltimore. We had a pretty good tulip poplar bloom in early May 'til the first or second week in June. The poplar bloom is surely over all over West Virginia, except possibly the highest elevations.
I spotted a crown-shaped thing I thought must be a blossom in the top of a Tulip Poplar in mid-may. I thought it must be a bloom opening then, but couldn't make out any blossom color, or spot any like it elsewhere. That's probably what it was. I spotted it with a camcorder on 20x zoom. As the others have said, it's a bear to spot these.

We're further west and over a thousand feet higher than Harper's Ferry, climate zone 6a.
Here in TENN at my place it's quite easy to see the blooms when they are blooming. Any of the TP on the edge of a field will have blooms on all limbs regardless of how low they are. When the trees are in full bloom theres no mistaking the blooms as they are about 3" tall by 1.5" in diameter.
Here in TENN at my place it's quite easy to see the blooms when they are blooming. Any of the TP on the edge of a field will have blooms on all limbs regardless of how low they are. When the trees are in full bloom theres no mistaking the blooms as they are about 3" tall by 1.5" in diameter.
White and orange, same here, no problem seeing the blooms. G
I grew up in the eastern panhandle of WV and never realized black gum grew that far north - come to find out it grows up into New England.

I have a lot of tupelo here at my place and it is one of the last if not the last tree to bloom here. The blooms are tiny - smaller than the wild holly so they are difficult to see unless you have a small tree and can get close. Mine were blooming here mid to late May this year. Black gum are messy trees - though pretty in the fall and good for wildlife. They are also the last to leaf our and the first to show color and lose leaves in the fall in my area. Their wood is near to impossible to split with an axe, maul, or wedge.
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.