Years ago, we decided to let our farm fields grow up to create more habitat diversity for wildlife. This process, called succession, is the natural replacement of plant or animal species in an area over time. In the last six years, our fields have been transformed from overgrown pastureland by the growth of shrubs and young trees, dominated by autumn olive, red cedar, tulip poplar, and black locust.
Black locust is native to the Southern Appalachians, and grows best in bright sunlight and prefers dry limestone soil. It spreads (prodigiously) by underground shoots or suckers, which contribute to its weedy character. The flowers, which open in May (in southwest Virginia) for only 7 to 10 days, appear as large, intensely fragrant white clusters. The locust blossoms are at their peak right now, pulling in the honey bees that return time and time again throughout the day to capitalize on this abundant food source.
Our honey bees are taking full advantage of this window of opportunity. The abundance of black locust makes it a major source of nectar for our bees, producing a light-colored honey with a floral, fruity, delicate flavor. Black locust-sourced honey remains liquid and does not crystallize easily due to its high fructose content.
We’re about to finish up the last jar of last year’s honey. Can’t wait until Bill harvests this spring’s honey!