Does your bee yard have a strange smell this fall? Are you wondering about that pungent smell emanating from your hives? What could it be?
GOLDENROD is in bloom here in NE Ga. (Goldenrod, botanical name Solidago, is a genus of about 140 species of flowering plants in the asteraceae family.) The fields and roadsides are awash with the beautiful yellow color of this “weed”. Goldenrod and the late blooming asters provide a wondrous blooming finale for our nectar and pollen gathering little friends. Goldenrod also provides the bee yard with a peculiar smell. It is different from the usual pleasant beehive smell.
The first year I had bees, I anxiously awaited the fall flow. The fall flow would help me determine whether I would need to feed or not. I was not prepared for the smell! I thought my bees were dead or had some serious issues going on inside the hives!
Some descriptions of the smell are:
- stinky feet
- dirty gym socks
I got on the WWW to read up on what could be causing the smell and discovered two possibilities.
- American Foulbrood
Of course I assumed the worst! I just knew my hives were diseased! I immediately got my gear together and started checking hives. (Since then I have learned AFB apparently has the smell of a dead rotting animal.) Everything in the hive was normal. With relief, I proclaimed my hives were suffering from the goldenrod honey ripening process.
I do not harvest from the fall flow so I cannot say what the ripened honey tastes like. It is my understanding it does not tastes like it smells though.
When I talk with fellow beekeepers, especially new ones, I warn them about the smell during the fall flow. They still get concerned and inspect their hives.
Question: Do bees adopt the odor of the flowers they pollinate? I ask because bees are out in force in my yard and there is this strong sort-of lilac smell. We don’t have that flower in my yard but they are all around. I wondered if the lilac I smell is coming from all these bees?