By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is spring titi? Spring titi (Cliftonia monophylla)is a shrubby plant that produces lovely pinkish-white blooms between March andJune, depending on the climate. It is also known by names such as buckwheattree, ironwood, cliftonia, or black titi tree.
Although spring titi makes a lovely plant for home landscapes, you may be concerned about spring titi nectar and bees. There is no reason for worry; spring titi and bees get along just fine.
Read on for more spring titi information and learn about spring titi and bees.
Spring titi is native to the warm, tropical climates of thesoutheastern United States, as well as parts of Mexico and South America. It isespecially abundant in wet, acidic soil. It isn’t suitable for growing north ofUSDA plant hardiness zone 8b.
If you’re concerned about spring titi and bees, you’reprobably thinking of summer titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), also known asred titi, swamp cyrilla, leatherwood, or swamp titi. Although bees love thesweet blooms of summer titi, the nectar can cause purple brood, a conditionthat turns the larvae purple or blue. The condition is deadly, and may alsoaffect pupae and adult bees.
Fortunately, purple brood isn’t widespread, but it isconsidered a serious problem for beekeepersin certain areas, including South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.Although it isn’t common, titi purple brood has been found in other areas,including southwest Texas.
Spring titi is an important honey plant. Beekeepers lovespring titi because the generous production of nectar and pollen makewonderful, medium dark honey. Butterfliesand other pollinators are also attracted to the fragrant blooms.
If you aren’t sure if the plants in your area are bee-friendlyor if you’re planting the most appropriate type of titi in your garden, contactthe local beekeeper’s association, or call your localcooperative extension office for advice.
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In all but the warmest climates, honey bees follow a seasonal pattern, and thus the tasks of the beekeeper also follow a calendar rhythm. Beekeeping tasks can be divided by the season, though you should keep in mind that seasons in your particular region may vary a little bit from the calendar dates. The start of "spring" in northern North Dakota, for example, is well past March 21/22, and "summer" in Florida is a considerably longer season than Alaska's ten-week season.
Checking on your bees frequently over the course of the year is a good idea, but can be overdone. you don't want to disrupt their hive building and daily activities too much.
You can use a variety of types of feeders to feed your bees, just make sure that the type you choose is appropriate to the climate and the needs of your bees. Some feeders work better than others. A hive-top feeder made of an inverted pail with some small holes punched in the center of the lid works well. Mason jars can also be inverted this way.
If checking on or feeding bees in winter, do not open the hive unless it is at least 40 degrees F outside with little to no wind. Never remove frames to inspect them unless it is at least 60 degrees F outside.
One consideration when feeding bees is whether you want to stimulate brood production. Some forms of feed stimulate brood production more than others: for example, granulated sugar does not because of its lower water content. Only feed as much as necessary. Overfeeding can stimulate bees to swarm or to overproduce brood.
If you have honey stored, you can feed this back to your bees. Honey is the best bee food. But never used purchased honey, because it can introduce diseases and contamination to your hive! Beekeepers sometimes set aside dark, strong-colored or other "off" honey to feed to bees in an emergency. Otherwise, make sugar syrup or feed dry sugar.
Spring flowering shrubs bring such a lot of colour into the garden early in the year, and some of the best displays come from Rhododendrons and Azalea. These come in all sizes and many colours, and are easy to grow, provided you have acid soil, they need little or no attention and have great showy blooms as illustrated above right.
The centre image is Camellia Japonica, also lovely shrub, but not so easy to grow. It too likes acid soil, but is much more fussy about its growing conditions - more info. When planting a Camellia it is definitely a case of "right place right plant". One problem with Camellias is that especially when planted in the wrong spot the blooms are easily browned by frost and the foliage may not be as glossy green as illustrated. There is more information on the Growing Camillia page, including advice on where to plant Camellia for the best results.
One the best spring flowering shrubs is Philadelphus, a lovely creamy white shrub with scented blooms illustrated above left. There are some great spring flowering shrubs and sometimes it seems that the most of the attractive flowering shrubs, with the showiest blooms, are often deciduous. This means in winter the deciduous shrubs will be bare, which is why it can be a good idea to plant a mix of evergreens and deciduous shrubs to create all round interest.
The shrubs below are hardy in most gardens, although some may need a more sheltered spot. Most of these shrubs are easy to grow and once established will flower reliably year after year, and for this reason form the mainstay of an easy to maintain garden.
If you have a shrub or plant in your garden and don't know what it is or how to look after it, why not e-mail a photo to the Sunday Gardener for help
Anyone who keeps bees will inevitably get stung. Consider this before you invest in a beekeeping hobby. You can greatly reduce stinging if you use gentle, commercially reared queens, wear a veil, use a smoker and handle bees gently. Experienced beekeepers can handle thousands or even millions of bees daily and receive very few stings.
A bee sting will cause intense local pain, reddening and swelling. This is a normal reaction and does not, in itself, indicate a serious allergic response. With time, many beekeepers no longer redden or swell when they are stung (however, it still hurts!). An extremely small fraction of the human population is genuinely allergic to bee stings. These individuals experience breathing difficulty, unconsciousness or even death if they are stung and should carry with them an emergency kit of injectable epinephrine, available by prescription from a physician.
When a bee stings, the stinger and poison sack remain in the skin of the victim. Always scrape the stinger and poison sack out of the skin with your fingernail or a hive tool (Figure 9) never pull it out because this squeezes the remaining venom into the skin.