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The Honeybee and the Maple Tree

The Honeybee and the Maple Tree have an interesting relationship. In the very early spring when the perfect combination of freezing nights and warm days allow, the maple tree runs sap.

All of our North American maples produce a sweet sap in the spring. The Sugar Maple-Acer saccharum is the most famous. Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content and is the most efficient source for sap to make Maple Syrup. Red maples and Silver Maples are the other two large maple species that are most familiar to us and likely to produce sap for the bees. Sap harvest by humans is done by drilling a hole through the bark of the tree and inserting a spout called a spile to direct the sap into a bucket. These buckets are then emptied into a large cauldron and the water is boiled off to concentrate the sugars. Depending on the season and the quality of the sap, the resulting syrup can range from honey colored to nearly black. The flavor varies a little according to color with the darker syrup being stronger.

Regardless of the flavor or color, the honey bee enjoys the high concentration of sugar sap as well as the pollen produced by maple trees. As the days start to get longer in length and with the increased amounts of maple sap and pollen coming into the hives it triggers the queen to ramp up brood production because the new honey season is about to begin!

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