Monday, July 14, 2014

How's the Grain Sorghum Doing?

The grain sorghum is doing OK, not great, but not terrible, probably best described as a little below average.  It was dry when I planted it back on May 2, it was still relatively dry for a few more weeks, it rained 9-10 inches during June, and it stopped raining and got hot in July.  I have weed problems in spots, and some late emergence and/or thin spots, but right now it has started to head out and is at the half-bloom stage (that basically means that half the field has headed out and the heads are blooming).  

A sorghum head doesn't really flower, it emerges and then sort of sheds a bunch of pollen from top to bottom which fertilizes each potential seed.  

Even though it doesn't flower in the typical flower sense, today I noticed that there were honeybees on the heads gathering what looked like orange pollen. If I hadn't seen it myself, I never would have thought that honeybees would gather pollen from grain sorghum.   Apparently the local honeybees are camera shy because they made a bee-line for home as soon as I pointed the camera at them so you're going to have to take my word for it.
Five seconds ago there was honey bee gathering sorghum pollen in this picture
Honeybees in the grain sorghum got me to wondering about what the honey would taste like, if more honeybees might actually help give me a better yield at harvest, and if it might be worthwhile to establish some sort of wild bee hives (if that's even possible).   

An awful picture of an average stand of grain sorghum
Besides all that, I tried unsuccessfully to take a decent picture of part of the sorghum field.  Somehow the color is all off (it really is greener than that), but it still gives you a decent idea of what a field looks like at this point.  Some of the heads are still emerging (if you look real close you'll see them), and the grain hasn't filled out yet in the heads that are blooming. In a month or so, there will be even more heads, and they should all be much bigger and full of grain.


  1. Establishing a wild bee hive is impossible but creating a domesticated bee hive is relatively easy to do. Be forewarned though that you start off with one and end up with a couple hundred. At least that is what happened to my parents before they came to their senses and sold them off.

    1. The way I see the world, nothing is really impossible, although it might not be worth the effort.

      I've stumbled across at least three feral colonies of bees (two were up in trees in the open, and one was in a dead tree that had a large split) over the last 3-4 years, plus there is a large established one near the barn in a partially hollow tree.

      For all I know there might be even more colonies of feral bees scattered around the farm already, and there would be no point in encouraging more feral bees.

      I wonder if feral bee colonies would be compatible with a domesticated bee hive?

    2. Sorry. I think things got lost in translation. I meant that it was impossible to establish them because they are either there or they aren't. If you coax them there somehow by providing them with a better home which is what they seek when swarming, then by definition they aren't wild anymore. There were lots of wild bees around and the best way to find them is simply to follow them when they are collecting nectar. They are pretty easy to follow, much easier than you might expect.

      Wild bees aren't a problem around domesticated bees. In fact, chances are that they are domesticated European bees that just swarmed their hive somewhere else. It happens quite often in strong hives. The bees to worry about are the much more aggressive African bees which I haven't heard much about for over a decade. I know they made it up into Texas from the south. At one point they said they would kill a hive of European bees and take it over but I suspect that ended up wrong and they simply interbred to the point where they aren't so aggressive they kill people with regularity anymore. I've certainly ran across swarms of bees in the deep south that were pretty aggressive and wondered if they have African blood in them.