Bee forage conundrum

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Nov 9, 2008
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S.E. Cornwall
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Hi folks,

I recently contacted Adam Willis, who I believe gave a talk at the BBKA Stoneleigh convention, about plants for forage. I asked him what plants are particularly good to plant in my apiary for a good nectar supply other than the usuals...anyway, he said it would be pointless planting them on my apiary as apparently bees don't forage within 100ft of the hive from April - September.

Is this true????:confused:
My bees have been all over next doors flowers and other neighbors beans this summer, not seen them in my garden too much but they do visit the flowers there too, I think someone has just not seen their bees forage in their own garden and so bees must not forage for X number of feet from the hive, this is just not true.
Some of my hives are in my old orchard, they can bee seen in the spring every year doing their pollination work.surely the same applies when hives are taken to fields of Borage, Beans,or OSR.
Waggle dance is too short? It's a wonder they ever rob one of their close neighbours! Is there a less-good crop for 30m around a beehive stood in a bean field, or similar?

It may be generally true that they don't drop out of the hive in droves on that one tiny patch of clover just under the entrance, because there will be a bigger, better patch just a little further away which a is more-efficient source for the hive as a whole. Also more likely that is the range of dropping dead bees, etc cleared from the hive? I do know that we rarely get a bee indoors at about 15m from the hives, they nearly all go out over the garage roof (for extra lift?).

Regards, RAB
We've seen one of our ladies forage on dandelions which are growing within a foot of the hive entrance.

Hi all

My hives are behind two large apple trees, the girls were all over the flowers in may/June

Indeed, I've seen bees sitting *on* their entrance porch, casually taking nectar from wildflowers that are growing up against the corner.

All they need now is a little rocking chair!

Certainly I see loads in my garden foraging within 10 feet of the hive.
Mine take from Cornflowers, Sedums, Roses, etc in the garden all close to the hive.
This is a really common myth - I've heard people say "Oh no, those can't be my bees, they wouldn't forage in their own garden" when they're on a 12 storey building with no other apiaries for quite some distance.

I understand that if there's a big patch of forage just a bit further away the bees will go for that, but how do these myths get started? And how are they so easily accepted? Not necessarily by people here, I'm speaking generally.
I read, before I got bees, - and apologies, I can't remember which book - that bees won't forage close the the hive as they might've poo'd on the flowers (it was put more technically than that!).
Mine clearly have no sense of decorum though and will happily collect from stuff right outside the hive.
I have often thought about marking a bee with a dab of paint when Im out walking my dog a good mile away just to see if i can find that bee in my hive. I have certainly paid more attention to whats being foraged on and where my bees might be going too since i have started keeping bees.
I have one strain of Bee that will Forage within feet of the hive the other will ignore whats on offer and go else where. I heard Italian Bees were the laziest Bees for doing this. But having read this it would be nice to see some proof.
The americans did some research with Bumble bees using a very tiny transmiter on their backs.

I did read a while back that they now have one small and light enough to fit honey bee's.

I think the research was payed for by National geographic ?
Would that be transmitters, or rfid chips?
Transmitters would be used for continuous tracking and rfid for closer transponder operation where a transmitter illuminates the chip which then emits a response.
The book, "The buzz about bees" by Jurgen Tautz, describes research done with all the individual bees in a colony equipped with rfid chips. A very good book, well worth reading. Still a work in progress with myself.
So I am really a "Superorganism Supervisor" - I feel a t-shirt coming on!
we had 50+ hives in the garden in late June and there was very little activity close by given the huge number of bees working hard - I also looked at large scale planting but I am not sure it would change things that much, better to think what you can plant for all the other urban hives that you wont be aware of.
Just do it, if you must.

Best of luck. You will need it!

It might increase your slim chance if you know the direction your bees are going when leaving the hive? Better to paint a hundred(?) of your bees and look out for them on your walks!

it all depends on the time of day the plants let their nectar down. this is why you often see plants in full bloom with no bees on as they release nectar at differing times of the day.

I can vouch for this having seen bees on tree flowers early in the day and then nothing on them the rest of the day.

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