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Author Topic: Pine Honey & fir tree apiary eval  (Read 4108 times)
Dane Bramage
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« on: December 02, 2007, 02:59:59 PM »

I'm contemplating a secondary, small apiary location at another residence of mine, nestled in the pines with a small creek running through it.  I was doing some searches on "Pine Honey" and came across this interesting article (linked and attached below). 
Here's a couple pics of the prospective locale
"bird's eye view":

Panorama of the front:


With the nectarlicious wetlands being available at my other residence, I didn't bother putting any hives at this residence my first year.  Now that I've time and resources to experiment I am curious to see how it might do.  Does anyone here have hives in residential, douglas fir (or other pine) dominated locales?  If so, what is the flow like, honey, pollen.. even curious about the propolis.

And here's that interesting article on Pine Honey, which is actually a "Honeydew" honey produced from bees collecting from Aphids.

Honeydew is a classification of honey that refers to honey produced by honeybees collecting nectar that is exuded from another insect such as an aphid or scale insect. It is quite common in a number of countries and the best known is honeydew from the Black Forest in Germany. World wide it is referred to variously as "forest honey", "Pine honey", "Fir honey" etc. and may be referred to by the specific species of tree producing the honeydew.

Honeydew is one of New Zealand's premium export honeys. It has a history of export to Europe and specifically Germany since the early 1970s. There are several honeydew producing scale insects in New Zealand inhabiting a variety of plants. However most of these are small honeydew sources or intermittent production. The beech forests of the South Island are a different story however. Two species of beech tree inhabited by two species of honeydew insect (the sooty beech scales) produce New Zealand's largest single exported honey crop. The beech trees are Black Beech (Nothofagus solandri) and Red Beech (N. fusca). The two insects are Ultracoelostoma assimile and U. brittini. U. brittini tends to inhabit the trunks and larger branches, while U. assimile is recorded (C.F.Morales) as favouring the upper branches and twigs, thus U.brittini is the insect most likely to be encountered by the casual observer wandering in the beech forests.


Pretty fascinating! Read the rest here ~> Honey Dew Honey in New Zealand

Cheers,
Dane
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BeeHopper
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2007, 03:09:08 PM »

Can't help with your question, but I think you just invented a new word "nectarlicious".  I like it  grin
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2007, 03:25:18 PM »

So the Aphid takes a dump
The bee comes along and eats it
Goes home and barfs it up
Then people eat it 
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2007, 04:01:43 PM »

LOL Jerrymac!
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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2007, 05:20:16 PM »

Dane it seems that spot you have picked out will be very shady, you could have shb issues and your bees won't be able to gather as long because your daylight hours will be lessened considerably. Not to rain on your parade but I have heard that honeydew honey is an inferior honey, but I don't know for sure. As for as propolis, I think you would get all you could handle.
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2007, 05:43:40 PM »



Quote
Not to rain on your parade but I have heard that honeydew honey is an inferior honey, but I don't know for sure.

I have heard the same. Un-palatable.
Gail
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2007, 06:40:38 PM »

I ended up with four boxes of honey dew from some hives in the mountains -It is terrible stuff -old time keepers told me to pull it because the sugars where to complex to even winter the bees on - haven't sold any - RDY-B
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2007, 06:45:06 PM »

that's over toward estacada?  you'd have plenty of forage options and the river.  might not be a bad spot, but i agree about the sun.  we need to give them all we can in this state!
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Dane Bramage
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2007, 07:05:59 PM »

Dane it seems that spot you have picked out will be very shady, you could have shb issues and your bees won't be able to gather as long because your daylight hours will be lessened considerably. Not to rain on your parade but I have heard that honeydew honey is an inferior honey, but I don't know for sure. As for as propolis, I think you would get all you could handle.


Thx for the reply. Smiley  There is no SHB here in Oregon (of which I'm aware) and also no honeydew honey that I've been able to find.  Honeydew honey requires more than just pine or fir trees, it requires the scales (or aphids) to digest the sap and exude nectar.  I'm unsure if those insects are here in any quantity enough to make it an issue.  I've found no mention of them at all in any searches and have never noticed any in my tree climbing (SRT) or hiking.

Regarding honeydew being inferior honey, that would depend on the criteria.  As compared to typical flower nectar based honey; do greater amounts of oligosaccharides, glucose oxidase and anti-oxidants (all detailed in the article I linked) make honeydew honey inferior?  By my reading, it seems it could be one of, if not the, most healthful honey varieties.

ETA ~> Oh, I see a couple of new posts.  It's the taste that is bad.  Got it... Seems there may be an equitable medicinal market however ~> retail link ($24/18oz!)  shocked

Gotchya on the shade.  I can position the hives so they do get direct morning thru early afternoon sun, but they would be in the shade more than ideal.  That's pretty obvious... I guess I'm more curious about about PNW forest nectar sources, duration, etc.,; Douglas fir, maple.  I see hummingbirds around here often and have no idea what they feed on, besides residential flora.  With the 2-3 mile radius forage range, that residential garden aspect may come largely into play...
In fact, the hives would only be about 5000 ft from 3 different parks (e.g. Washington Park, 332 acres), one being the largest within city-limits park in the country (Forest Park, 5000 acres) as well as the Portland Rose Gardens & Japanese Garden.  So I'm somewhat hopeful they may find some decent nectar sources beyond the immediate area.  Here's a broader satellite image:



ETA ~>
that's over toward estacada?  you'd have plenty of forage options and the river.  might not be a bad spot, but i agree about the sun.  we need to give them all we can in this state!


Hi Kathy - I was posting as you were, lol.  This house is right next to the Portland Rose Gardens, Washington Park, etc., (see image above).  Whatchya think about over here?

ETA (one last "edited to add", lol) ~>  Here's the run-down of the flora in Forest Park, which is representative of some of what would be in forage range:
Forest Park is located within what is known as the Western Hemlock zone. In its natural, undisturbed condition, this zone is populated by three primary tree species: Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western red cedar. To a lesser degree, grand fir, black cottonwood, red alder, bigleaf maple, madrone and western yew trees also occur throughout the landscape.

Shrubs are well developed, including: sword fern, salal, Oregon grape, lady fern, red huckleberry, vine maple, and western hazel are common and indicative species. Predominant wildflowers in this zone include wild ginger, inside-out flower, Hooker's fairy bells, vanilla leaf, evergreen violet, and trillium.

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Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2007, 09:31:23 AM »

Dane, I think that it is cool that you are expanding your apiary.  Good for you.  As much sun as you can get on the hives is the best medicine of any sort, referring to pests and health of the bees.  Position them, as you say that you are going to do, that should help alot with stuff.  Interesting, I wish you well.  Best of this beautiful day, great life.  Cindi
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2007, 11:13:36 AM »

i would think that would be a good spot.  in addition to what is left of the natural vegetation, you have all those tree huggers planting "organic" stuff in window boxes  evil.  i have not been out that way in years.  i was shocked when i drove out 217 to Beaverton.  last time i'd been out there, the mall was in the middle of a field!
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Dane Bramage
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2007, 01:40:29 PM »

There's quite a bit of natural vegetation here... my lot is .85 acres and many of the neighbors have similar.  Not "window box" gardening here.. it isn't Manhattan!  haha and not exactly downtown P-town either.  But very near.. which is kind of cool.  My little neighborhood doesn't have any streetlights or above ground wiring at all.  Makes for sort of a sanctuary even while being just a few minutes from everything.

The lack of direct sun and being at 900' altitude will definitely slow the bees down I think... at least in Spring and Fall.  It's typically 5-10° cooler up here, which can be nice on those hot summer days even in the typically mild PNW.

Well, I'm going to be bumping up the other locale to 25-30 hives, which I think will be no issue as far as diminishing returns on the nectar.  I'll test out 5 or so hives here in the pines on the hill and see how they do.  Perhaps they'll venture the 5000' over to the 10,000+ roses @ the International Rose Test Garden (blooms June-Nov) when the other nectar sources aren't as enticing.  I wonder how they'll like the trillium (loads of it here in spring).

Cheers,
Dane
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2007, 01:48:06 PM »

Don't trees normally leak sap? I have never herd of bees farming aphids, though I have herd of aphid infestations strong enough that you can feel the honeydew raining down below the trees.

Aphids don't "crap" so much as spit out through a second exit to their mouth. The majority of the honeydew they produce hasn't gone through their digestive system. Other insects like Scales and Mealybugs can be harder to spot, some camouflage so well that they look like bumps on the plant, perfectly colored. All of these produce the honeydew to attract ants and are usually found on new growth or the roots.
In all actuality they're beneficial to the host plant and rarely kill it, actually I've never herd of aphids killing a plant. They may make the leaves coiled and look dead though, some will spin silk, but the overall damage is nothing compared to what caterpillars and beetles do. The ants will protect the entire plant and eat the caterpillars.
Summer is the best time to find Aphids I think. Normally they reproduce asexually and clone themselves, in the summer time they produce winged forms (that ants usually eat to control their numbers) that fly off to start new herds of aphids on other plants, come fall they produce males which then mate and make the others lay eggs which survive the winter and it all starts over form there.

If these insects are to hard to find then try looking for the ants that herd them around. These are three very easy to spot ants that are easy to spot. Though you may want to lay out bait (honey) to find them. There are others but these are the easiest I think. 
Wood Ants (Formica) are an average sized ant that nest in soil, some make huge mounds of fallen twigs and pine needles. 7 to 10 mm long usually.
http://www.myrmecos.net/formicinae/rufa.html

Carpenter Ants (Camponotus) are the largest ants in the United States. The orange species tend to nest in soil under trees, the black ones (sometimes partly red) tend to nest in dead wood or the dead limbs of trees. Commonly found infesting homes. 6 to 13 mm long usually. Queens can be up to 17mm.
http://www.myrmecos.net/formicinae/nearcticcamponotus.html
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v735/mrilovetheants/Justins%20Yard/Camponotusaphids.jpg

Acrobat Ants (Crematogaster) are smaller and nest in existing hollows in wood structures. They have a distinctive heart shaped abdomen, and most form large sub-colonies between a lot of different locations. 4mm long about.
http://www.myrmecos.net/myrmicinae/crematogaster.html
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2007, 02:21:27 PM »

Aphids don't "crap" so much as spit out through a second exit to their mouth.

I just watched something (Animal plant or National Geo or science channel) about these ants that actually farm the aphids. They herd them around (carry them) to different locations and protect them from the weather and predators. It sure looked to me like the droplets the ants harvested was coming out the back side. That is why I said what I did earlier. BUT I could be wrong.
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2007, 03:48:08 PM »

Dane,

You're list of shrubs is sufficient reason for locating a few hives in the area.  I have some friends from my Army days that live in Tagard and I've been to Washington Park and the Japanese Garden.  And if nothing else, with all those evergreens, you could sell proplis to the natural health afficinados.
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2007, 12:14:43 AM »

Thanks Brian - I hope and think you're right.  grin  &, guess what I forgot (duh)~>  there's loads of blackberries on the hill here, not to mention the few apple and pear trees I planted a few years ago.  Where isn't there blackberries in Oregon?   Wink

It's still early winter and I'm already nostalgic and impatient for spring!  I'll have to be even more patient to wait and see how they do... and taste the honey!!  tongue
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2007, 12:22:17 PM »

i'm sorry if it's already been answered, there's too much text, don't have the will or the time:

Honey dew honey is NOT inferior, in fact it's SUPERIOR-more minerals and other healthy stuff. it's considered inferior lots of times because of somewhat unpleasant application (it tends to crystallize).

somewhere along my beek experience I've heard two things:
-only Slovene (Carniolan) bees can collect honeydew
- in the US the conditions aren't "right" so aphids can't breed enough to produce any serious amount of honeydew
i'm totally unsure of these two info, so you might wanna check it out (it is rather odd)

aphids eat a great amount of tree sap, but they can digest a very small part of it, so they secret the rest.

fir tree honeydew honey is the classified as A1 honey!
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JP
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2007, 04:51:48 PM »

[author=Mici

> Honey dew honey is NOT inferior, in fact it's SUPERIOR-more minerals and other healthy stuff. it's considered inferior lots of times because of somewhat unpleasant application (it tends to crystallize).

I believe that may have been the reason I heard that its inferior, something to do with too high of a sugar content.

> somewhere along my beek experience I've heard two things:
-only Slovene (Carniolan) bees can collect honeydew
- in the US the conditions aren't "right" so aphids can't breed enough to produce any serious amount of honeydew
i'm totally unsure of these two info, so you might wanna check it out

Don't think this is accurate. We have tons of aphids here. The carpenter ants herd the aphids to their advantage. A lot of times when you see carpenter ants you see aphids and vice versa

fir tree honeydew honey is the classified as A1 honey!
[/quote]
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« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2007, 11:12:41 AM »

Dane,

Getting in on this a little late here. About fir trees etc: 2 summers ago I took my son to Italy and had the occasion to visit 2 small apiaries. One was in the foothills of the Alps (the Dolomite mts) near Belluno and the other was NW of Florence in the Apennines. Both were situated in pine forests. Both are hobby level and very productive. I tasted honey from both places and it was distinctive and delicious (Whole Foods apparently imports "pine honey" now from both regions). I am embarrassed to say that the subject of honeydew, etc never came up. I was too interested in their management habits, hive arrangements, etc.

But Mici is correct in observing that honeydew honey is valued in many places outside the US. Not sure about the superiority of it's mineral content but I know it has it's following. Never understood the prejudice against it. By the way - very cool location for your house. Looks a bit like forest fire bait though.

PS  if you ever go to Italy, try to make time to travel in the mountain regions. All of Italy is beautiful and interesting but the mountain culture is incredibly alluring (no tourists!!!). My family comes from the south - the boot - Sicilians essentially and not over-friendly to outsiders. Being a long lost grandson helps. I did taste some accacia honey down there which was good too.
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