Bee-friendly plant series: Goldenrod

Apparently there are over 100 species of goldenrod. It is part of the aster family. Late bloomers all. Beekeepers notice that goldenrod appears first, often in early August, endures on into September, and the honey season for us finishes with white and then blue asters that sometimes bloom into October. Godlenrod is popular with bees in general, but honeybees seem fussy and prefer certain types. They seem to favour the type with the droopy fronds. Sometimes goldenrod is the make it or break it honey crop and bees can fill supers with it. But better that the beekeeper take the goldenrod honey and replace it with sugar syrup. Why? Goldenrod and aster honey granulates readily and it contains solids (ash) which are not digestible for bees. If bees are confined in their hives in a cold January/February with a larder full of goldenrod honey they can starve or get sick. They need water to access granulated honey (ice and snow won’t do) and they need to have cleansing flights (read: poop) to eliminate the solids in the goldenrod honey. If, because of the cold, they can’t get out for a cleansing flight, they can get dyssentry and die. In a cold winter I’ve occasionally seen strong hives, dead with surplus granulated honey that they could not use. Many new Maritime beekeepers want to leave honey for the bees …that’s what bees eat, right? But it’s good to remember that there would be no honeybees in Atlantic Canada if not for beekeepers.. Honeybees here are above their northern range and honeybees are not even native to North America …they are an introduced species. So it may seem weird to take goldenrod honey away from the bees and give them sugar syrup to winter on, but that is one way to have live honeybees in the spring and not face that most discouraging March discovery …a dead out. (Historical factoid: before and during times of wartime shortage, processes were developed to extract latex from goldenrod foliage to make rubber to keep the war effort rolling. I think similar efforts were made with the latex from dandelion stems.) U-pick closed for the year. Our blueberry season is over, but our freezer room is full if you’d like to buy berries. 5 pounds for $15.00, 3 boxes for $40.00. Buy nine before we run out and the tenth box is free.

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