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Author Topic: Milkweed as Nectar Source?  (Read 1104 times)
Steve M.
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« on: July 22, 2008, 10:33:33 AM »

I have been looking at information regarding Milkweed as a nectar source.  Do any of you have any experience/anecdotes with/about Milkweed?  I noticed a while back some interesting bits attached to some of my bees feet, and after some research found that it was pollen disks from the Milkweed flower.  I have heard that the Milkweed plant can really exact some damage on the pollinators that choose to come for nectar.

The milkweed flower just smells so good that it would seem that the honey made from it would be equally as good.  I did taste a bit of the honey in my hive after doing an inspection, and it reminded me immediately of milkweed.  I was wondering if I was actually tasting a predominantly Milkweed honey. There is an abandoned farm a mile or so away that has acres of unmanaged pasture that has been literally overtaken with milkweed.  I'm pretty sure that is where my bees have been spending most of their time lately.

Does anyone know if getting nectar from the Milkweed will be too hard/damaging to my bees?

--Steve
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2008, 01:10:44 PM »

Milkweed is a great source of food for the bees. The trouble is 1 in 100 or so bees will get stuck on the pollen bits on the flower and dangle from it. If they can't get free they'll die. So there is some hazards for the bees.  Personally I've never come across any dead bees hanging from the flower clusters, but I have come across a few stuck to them.
Milkweed is also the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly to lay eggs on, there are about 11 other species that do this too but you have to go farther south for them.
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2008, 01:46:41 AM »

Something I just read; Asclepias subverticillata is toxic to bees. It's a very grassy looking milkweed with white flowers.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ASSU2
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 01:52:10 AM »

You shouldn't have a problem with that in NJ.  It's range is in the midwest/southwest.
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Steve M.
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2008, 09:21:46 AM »

Interesting variety of milkweed, but thankfully not the variety I am surrounded by.
--Steve
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2008, 01:17:29 PM »

It's something I just read in "The Hive and the Honey Bee" a Dadant Publication. They don't really back it up at all. It's just a paragraph naming plants with deadly nectar and pollen sources to honey bees. Some only kill the brood while others kill the bees, some do both.
Considering how common milkweed is I'm sure this is just a flook species of it.
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Hivehead
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2008, 10:56:29 PM »

There's a couple milkweeds in my yard for the monarchs.  The bees don't really go too much for it.  They seem to taste it a bit for about 3, 4 minutes and head for sweeter flowers.  If they get their "foot" stuck in one, they're gone as soon as they get loose.  Looks kinda like the old foot in the bucket trick.  Don't know what's happening but it sure puts them in the mood for other sources.
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