Saturday, October 8, 2011

There's Always More to Learn

     This is a follow-up to my last post.  Thanks to Barbara Beekeeper, whose blog I follow, I've now learned that the bad odor we experienced each of the past two autumns is not caused by the coincidental appearance of the wax worms but by one of the most abundant fall bloomers--goldenrod.  When the goldenrod honey is curing in the hive, it gives off odors that can be quite strong and seemingly have a different effect on different people.  After reading Barbara's account, I did a bit more research and found that a number of people mistake the odor for American Foul Brood, and tear their hives apart fearing to find the evidence that would indicate they needed to destroy their hives.  Others liken the smell to smelly, wet socks (or feet), while others note the odor but don't find it unpleasant. In our experience, the odor is a sickly, sweet but sour smell, quite strong.  Apparently, there are a number of varieties of goldenrod which could account for variance in the way people experience the odor.  One thing most agree on, however, is the great taste of the honey once it has sufficiently cured and has been capped.  Some actively seek out goldenrod honey and will pay up to $6 a pound for it.  One other negative is that it has a tendency to crystallize rather quickly.
Not as stinky as I thought

     So, this lead me to re-think what is going on in our hives.  Not only are the wax worms not to blame for the odor, I think all that debris we're finding on the pull-out tray is coming from the bees chewing up the strips of Hopguard.
       Again, the bees continue to amaze and instruct.

1 comment:

  1. For some reason I can't post on your site from my desktop :(

    Thanks for this post because next year we plan on planting a bunch of goldenrod as I heard the bees really love it. If I hadn't read this I would have thought for sure we had AFB if I smelled anything unusual.

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