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Poly Hive 

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Laugh if you like....

tonight walking the dogs on the towpath of the Trent and Mersey canal I observed bees, both bumbles and apis working Ivy in flower.

In my previous life ivy got to the stage of forming flower heads but they never actually opened into flowers.

So a new one for me, great to be learning again. :)

PH
 

Samuel 

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I cleared my supers into some with foundation about four years ago - they filled them with ivy honey, but it was a lovely hot september - I didnt think it was the greatest honey though
 

gavin 

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Ivy has traditionally been an autumn forage for the bees in the far SW of the UK (S Wales, S English coast, the SW) and parts of Ireland. In the last decade or two the ivy area has been spreading N, including N Ireland and now even here in E Scotland the bees are bringing in nectar as well as pollen from the ivy. Yesterday I watched honeybees working the ivy flowers then later saw the fresh nectar in the hives, just like last year. The locals say that they never get anything other than pollen from ivy.

Global warming in action.

Gavin
 

Hivemaker. 

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Just starting to flower here,covered in every kind of insect under the sun,Gavin did some very interesting testing of the different ivy's last season.
 

gavin 

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I did indeed. There are two species (sometimes subspecies) one of which doesn't secrete much nectar and one that pumps it out. Hard to tell apart but:

Hedera helix - diploid, does OK in colder places, often on trees, smaller leaves and flowers, not such a good nectar plant.

Hedera hibernica - tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes), prefers warmer spots, often on rocks and cliffs, bigger butcher thing, stick a sprig in a vase and you'll see the copious nectar that dries and crystalises to a white crust.

Some kind souls sent me honey samples last year and you can tell from the pollen in the honey which species was involved. Usually Hedera hibernica.

I was going to write that up for one of the magazines, but the foulbrood troubles intervened.

G.
 

admin 

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Thanks Gavin,very interesting..
 

FenBee 

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That is very interesting Gavin, I am thinking of planting Ivy to grow over my garage, to give the bees some food in the Autumn. I have heard that Ivy nectar is so high in sugar content that it chrysalises in the bees honey stomach, while it is on its way back to the hive :D
 

gavin 

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I know, but it is hard to believe. More likely that the bee died for other reasons and the ivy nectar in its stomach then set.

If you are going to plant ivy for bees, I'd collect from the wild. The non-flowering shoots often have little roots to attach themselves and I'm sure that they would take easily in soil. There are quite a few ornamental ivies sold under the name of Hedera hibernica, and I think that many of them don't flower.

Funny how these late season bee plants tend to be invasive things - Japanese knotweed, ivy, Himalayan balsam.

G.
 

sahtlinurk 

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i got loads and loads of ivy everywhere and bees are going bananas... they don't take any feed in any more. i was up at half seven and they were out and flying.
I already took all the supers away and prepared them for winter. and now this ivy. should i take some action to avoid problems with ivy honey?

Lauri
 

FenBee 

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Gavin, thanks for the tip about wild flowering Ivy, I shall take a look in the woods near here and plant some around the garage. :cheers2:

Lauri, I assume you have put the supers back on, if not I would consider at least one and check the super after a week to see how much has been filled. The problem with Ivy honey is that it does crystalise readily, so you need to whisk the super off when it is near to full or the flow comes to an end and harvest the honey. I am told that Ivy honey has an odd taste too.

Alternatively, give it to the bees, they will be able to use it, but it will be more work for them to consume than a sugar syrup based honey.
 

Bcrazy 

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Gavin,
Is it possible for you to collect the flowering heads of the two different Ivy's and compare pollen grains. Whilst on that subject if you can obtain the heads would you please send me a couple for my library of pollen slides.

Thank you.

Regards;
 

sahtlinurk 

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thanks FenBee. just checked all of my hives and they were full of nectar. supers back on now. hopefully the good weather continues and they will manage to fill them.

Lauri
 

tidymeup 

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I have allot of ivy that is in bud but as of yet they haven't opened up yet and was wondering when they are likely to ?

I am near maclesfield cheshire.
 

gavin 

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Gavin,
Is it possible for you to collect the flowering heads of the two different Ivy's and compare pollen grains. Whilst on that subject if you can obtain the heads would you please send me a couple for my library of pollen slides.
Hi Mo

I've done that already, but could gather some again for you if you like. If you search on the other forum for 'hedera' you'll find the discussions together with images of the pollen grains. I'll check and see if I have spare slides - if so, they're yours.

Bits of youngish foliage are well worth a look too. The kind of leaf hairs (flat brittle stars or spiky ones) is diagnostic for the two species.

I have allot of ivy that is in bud but as of yet they haven't opened up yet and was wondering when they are likely to ?

I am near maclesfield cheshire.
Any time from a couple of weeks ago until maybe December. Some have been out here for a couple of weeks, seemingly in the warmer sheltered spots.

all the best

G.
 

Bcrazy 

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Hi Gavin,

I would really appreciate having you send the two different types of Ivy as then I will be able to store the contents after making slides from them.

Bits of youngish foliage are well worth a look too. The kind of leaf hairs (flat brittle stars or spiky ones) is diagnostic for the two species.
Thanks for that info, and yes I have had a look at your post regarding Hedera.

Thank you very much.:)

Regards;
 

tidymeup 

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I noticed today that the ivy has started to flower but i can't determine the colour of the pollen properly. Is it likely to be the light yellow that my bees are returning with ?
 

sahtlinurk 

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had a taste of ivy honey today - very bitter i must say but i like it. will have probably two or three supers of that stuff.

Lauri
 

Black Comb 

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Lauri, I assume you have put the supers back on, if not I would consider at least one and check the super after a week to see how much has been filled. The problem with Ivy honey is that it does crystalise readily, so you need to whisk the super off when it is near to full or the flow comes to an end and harvest the honey. I am told that Ivy honey has an odd taste too.
Do you wait until it is capped?
 

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