For the Love of Milkweed and Sharks!

Milkweed entertained me when I was several years old, in the usual toddleresque and destructive manner. It seemed fascinatingly odd that the firm little leaves oozed milky white fluid, so of course many of them were sacrificed for my entertainment. There seemed to be plenty of them around. A couple of decades later, it didn’t look like much milkweed survived the era of powerful herbicides and its own longer-term perception as a fairly invasive weed that irritated Midwestern row croppers for many generations. I still come across a fair number of people that had to hoe them out of soybeans as children, and that memory sometimes limits their interest in the milkweed propagation that has taken priority amongst the pollinator lovers of recent years.

Lately it appears that there are a lot more milkweed in all kinds of settings. I was somewhat amused to watch in-town gardeners cultivate a few milkweed plants to five-foot heights as they navigated the transition from pesky nuisance to cultivar. As a beekeeper, the occasional milkweed was an undoubtedly welcome sight, but it also seemed as if people were trying a little too hard for little effect. Now it appears that they were successfully nurturing the first steps in a much stronger public identity for our monarch-sustaining species! The pollinator-friendly landscape is becoming a social and ecological force that may prove one of the more successful popular movements of my lifetime. We’ll see if it continues to grow and acquire long-term impact, but the past several years are encouraging. I have also been converted into one of the milkweed huggers:

Welcome to Bee Land–Weed Eater Submits!
Milkweed Culvert, Year Three!
Milkweed Explosion in the Flower Garden! Did Somebody Drop a Pod When I Wasn’t Looking?

Some of the milkweed are blooming right now, and the others will open soon.  Naturally it has rained for a week and plummeted in temperature.  June does that to us quite often…gives us a tease of a honey flow and then obliterates all traces of progress in the hive.  Ah well, at least we know July won’t be a fearsome drought, so a gift of heat and continued bloom will still do the trick for 2018.  We’re on the brink of when the usual honey flow commences.  Hopefully our milkweed friends get to contribute if some warmer weather returns.

As we await our apicultural fate, I advise you to watch out for sharks….they’re everywhere!

Andrew’s Sharky Self-Portrait at a Hy-Vee Honey Demo
Andrew Bosching his “Big Wood” as he calls this screw-pocked box