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Foraging Bee

Joined: 18 Jan 2016
Posts: 139
Location: central Belgium

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 3:05 pm    Post subject: Rhubarb Reply with quote

Hi All,

On my vegetable farm we have a small field of rhubarb (15x40m) that is old and due to be cleared after this years harvest. Normally we remove all the flowerbuds as flowering rhubarb produces less stalks. That didn't happen this year and as a result the field is in full bloom. To my surprise the bees were frantically working the flowers (collecting small amounts of pollen and probably some nectar too).

I never seen them on rhubarb before and can't find rhubarb in bee plant lists.
Has anyone seen honeybees on rhubarb?

While googling this on the internet I found that some treat their bees for varroa using paper drenched in rhubarb tea and then dried, the paper is put on the frames and the oxalic acid does the rest.
My thought is that putting paper in the hive induces cleaning behaviour (like sugar dusting) and reduces the mite load that way. The same effect is observed when you merge two hives using the paper methode.
What do you think?

friendly greetings

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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's really interesting. My patch seldom flowers, I suspect because I bury it under barrow loads of horse manure each winter and as long as it can keep growing upwards it seems happy not to want to flower. I have a separate patch that doesn't get the horse manure treatment and does occasionally flower and I have seen bumble bees and other insects enjoying it but I think the very limited number of flowers in that area is not enough to tempt my honey bees. I can understand how a whole field of it would attract them though as the flowers are very sticky, so I guess pretty high in sugar.

I would imagine it is not listed as a bee plant simply because the majority of flowers get cut off and therefore no one has noticed it's potential. I will be more inclined to leave some to flower next year or even this year if any more flower....I have only had one so far and I cut it out.

I was not aware that people were using rhubarb tea as a varroa treatment. I'm a little sceptical of the efficacy of such treatments, but open to factual persuasion, although in general I'm not that interested in varroa treatment these days.
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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