Petersfield beekeepers are blessed by living in an area of very varied forage. Situated at the western end of the Weald where the North and South Downs meet, soil types and landscape vary from alkaline to acid, river valley and meadow to wooded hillsides, heath, downs and agricultural land. Settled since prehistoric times and at the junction of two major travel routes, man has also had an impact on the plants growing in our area.
Plants introduced and cultivated by man are important sources of nectar and pollen outside the flowering times of native species. On warm sunny days in winter bees will visit gorse flowering beside the A3 and M27 and winter flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants flowering in our gardens. A pollen guide can be found here
Monday 25th May 2020
This week’s forage of the week: Chives, Allium Schoenoprasum is chosen by Anne-Chantal Ballard.’
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum, are a type of onion that belongs to the amaryllis family. They have edible leaves and flowers and are also cultivated for ornamental purposes.
They are a rich source of vitamin K, C and folic acid and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, and iron.
Leaves can be used to reduce high blood pressure, facilitate digestion, alleviate stomach discomfort, and prevent bad breath. They can also improve the strength of nails and hair.
Juice from the leaves can be used against mildew, scabs, and fungal infection.
They are in bloom at the moment, bees love them and every garden should be full of them!
Monday 18th May 2020
This week’s forage of the week: Geranium, is chosen by Chris Clark with flowers from his garden.’
“This is a genus of 422 plants found mostly in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Also known as ‘cranesbill’ from the appearance of the fruit capsule of some species.
The first three are the cranesbill species and the others are mugshots of its cousins around the garden. I’m always looking for other relatives if you have seen them..?
Pollen and nectar are produced, and although visited by more than 100 insect species, the main pollinators are honeybees, bumblebees and wasps.”
Sunday 10th May 2020
This weeks forage of the week is chosen by Richard and Gaye Bartlett is Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna)
It has many other names including Sceach Gheal, Whitethorn, Quickthorn, and May, Maybush or Mayblossom.
Hawthorn blossom is a potential source of one of the finest of honeys.
It provides a rich supply of cream coloured pollen at the height of the brood rearing season, but appears only to be available for bees in years when the weather is fine, still and humid. I have witnessed many hawthorns buzzing with foraging honey bees this year so hopefully some great honey will follow.
Flowering period: April to June
An infusion of hawthorn flowers and fruits have some medicinal properties, whilst a poultice of its leaves & flowers is said to help draw splinters
In folklore it is thought to be unlucky to cut lone trees as they are said to be fairy trees.
Monday 4th May 2020
This week Anne-Chantal Ballard has chosen Sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata that grows in her garden.
Sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata, is an old cottage garden perennial, traditionally grown near the kitchen door, where its prettily divided fern-like leaves were at hand for sweetening tart fruit. It’s an airy and graceful plant, yet is able to shrug off cold weather and starts into growth at the end of winter. The flowers open early in the year too, and are some of the first available for pollinators.
April 28th 2020.
This week’s forage of the week is Rosemary (Rosmarinus officialise L.)
These are pictures taken from Chris Clarks herb garden.
Rosemary has been cultivated since ancient times. The Romans considered Rosemary honey to be the best type of honey in the world. They believed it to be the symbol of love.
The flowers produce nectar particularly attractive to honeybees and bumblebees.
Flowering period: April to June (some years November).
In France, the honey produced from Rosemary is called ‘Narbonne’ honey. Narbonne honey is made in the Aude department of south western France. The honey is very light coloured, almost white or Ivory-coloured sometimes, a green-scent and creamy texture. It is very expensive, even in France. The honey is harvested in June around St. John the Baptist’s day.
Rosemary honey is also produced in Spain and Italy.
Imitations are made by infusing ordinary honey with Rosemary.
April 21st 2020 – Clanfield’s Oilseed Rape
In a new series of posts, association members will share their “Forage of the week” in their local area.
This week belongs to “Oilseed Rape” as member Andrew Horton is surrounded on all corners by fields all within walking distance and more importantly for our Bees
Rapeseed is a good crop for honey bees, offering both nectar and pollen in early spring. … The nectar flows are heavy and yield huge crops of light-colored, mild-flavored honey. However, rapeseed honey—commonly called canola honey—crystallizes so quickly that it is a problem for beekeepers
Oilseed rape is a crop that’s particularly attractive to bees due to its rich source of pollen and nectar.
Farmers Weekly published an article advising how Britain’s bee farmers can help raise crop yields, and “farmers have reported yield increases of 20% in oilseed rape and beans”. These seed growers are producing better-quality seed. “Germination increases from 83% to 96% in oilseed rape and beans,” says Mr Nickless.”
The photos below were taken on Monday 21st April 2020 in Clanfield by Sam Stainton.
February 13 2019
Our first fine, warm afternoon. The bees are busy on all the spring bulbs, shrubs & small trees. In my garden that includes several Hamamelis Mollis and a large Parottia the deep maroon flowers of which they are working for a buff pollen.