There is an extraordinary relationship between farmers and trees. Farmers understand their trees by simply observing them as they nourish and irrigate their land and plants. It is in the way farmers watch how the trees grow, as fresh leaves appear, as the bloom gradually evolves, and as the flowers flourish.
Beekeeper’s livelihood depends on their capability of tree reading combined with all the knowledge they have accumulated and processed over the years. However, knowledge about the evolutionary trees is considered a top-secret for beekeepers. Therefore, they will never share the information they have gathered about trees and honey with others. Well, at least not accurately… which means you will always have to do your research about the trees.
Let’s dig a little deeper into what Tree Reading means. Tree reading in the forest is about trying to understand when the trees will flower, will it have any nectar or pollen or possibly both, and any other information that may be useful to us as beekeepers. Amazingly, trees know all about drought cycles. This is because they have a very long memory, and they can analyse the ‘power of light’. They feel the power of the sunlight and can react to it.
We expect trees to flower every year because our thinking is around the annual cycle in nature. But in reality, some of the trees rest every second year, while some create different flowering cycles. Some trees will flower and regrow at the same time, and some will put more energy and resources into leaf growth rather than for nectar production. Trees have the autonomy to choose their time to bloom or flower. Sometimes it could happen out of season, sometimes at the wrong time within the season, and in some cases, they would skip a season altogether.
But why do trees behave like that? The scientist may be looking for answers, but beekeepers know the answer. Trees have their memory and ability to feel the power of the sun and react to what they “feel and know”. Add dry season and wet season to the mix, and the tree becomes a sophisticated weather prediction plant.
I had seen trees blooming in drought areas weeks before the flood arrived, sometimes in a very small and isolated area. In those areas which were eventually flooded, the trees just “knew” it was going to rain soon and produced new leaves as if it already rained, to enable themselves to pump water up when the rain comes. Other trees outside the flood areas did not bloom since they knew it would not rain for them. This is an astonishing behaviour we humans refer to as “predicting the future”.
In the beekeeper world, we utilise a lot of knowledge and experience, sometimes with a bit of luck, to be able to spot the right flower in the right location, with plenty of nectar flowing out. Hunting flowers is about knowing where they are located, estimating the timing they will flourish, and picking the right patch to get honey accumulated by the bees. Beekeepers will often travel to the flowers, verify they have enough nectar, and bring their beehives to the site to collect pure honey. This process happens all year round, including the slow winter season and even in the coldest areas. Experienced beekeepers will always find flowers that will provide nectar throughout the year, enough to create modest crops of honey during winter and much more during spring and summer.