bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unmellow yellow


The British countryside is distinctly yellow this spring. It's not because of the dry weather, but because of a substantial increase in the cultivation of oil seed rape (OSR or canola). According to The Guardian, production has gone up 17% this year -- a huge single-year increase that is not expected to decline anytime soon. Thirty years ago, the crop was barely known in Britain. Apparently Germany is now buying up lots of British OSR for biofuel production.

Beekeepers tend to groan or cheer about oil seed rape. For commercial beefarming in the UK, the huge nectar yields it gives is probably essential to maintaining a viable business. For hobbyists, it tends to be somewhat less popular. Spring-flowering rape crystallises rapidly and frequently in the comb. A few cold nights on the hive and the honey goes solid. It also seeds the next crop, field beans, and ensures that it won't remain liquid long either. You can guess which camp I'm in.

calculated (in 1996) that insect pollination (not just by honeybees) contributes about 10% of OSR's market value in the UK.

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Anonymous Korenwolf said...

There's also the school of opinion which says that OSR makes the bees 'mean' while they're working it (I've been trying to think if there's any fields within range given the evilness of my little darlings).

8:33 am  
Blogger Turlough said...

I've heard that school of thought too, but my bees must have gone to another educational establishment. They only get narky after the OSR flow has finished.

But heather honey on the other hand ... I've made it a rule never to picnic anywhere near my bees on the heather.

10:20 am  

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