View Full Version : What Would You Do?
10-15-2009, 01:19 PM
I have the opportunity to plant a fallow 20 acre field that is mostly golden rod and aster in the fall with whatever I want. I don't own the property, but have permission to plant whatever I want on it. I live in Southwestern PA. I would like to stagger plantings or plant a mix to provide some year round forage, but was curious what more experienced beekeepers would do if they were in my situation to get a maximum honey flow from the 20 acre parcel
The only reason I'd like to plant something other than the existing goldenrod and aster is that my bees rarely make a surplus in spring and summer. They always do well in fall. I believe there is enough goldenrod and aster in the surrounding areas within a mile of my home to make up for it if I took out the goldenrod.
10-15-2009, 05:17 PM
How much will it cost to plant and maintain the 20 acres and will you recover these costs plus a profit from your honey crop produced?
10-15-2009, 05:34 PM
I would do absolutely nothing. Well, maybe a little sweet clover seed, but that's it!
10-15-2009, 06:19 PM
As far as cost goes I would only have to pay for seed. The neighboring farmer will plant/plow it for next to nothing if not nothing.
10-15-2009, 06:40 PM
Hairy vetch and/or buckwheat are cheap to plant and give a pretty good bang for the buck. I mix in a little vetch every time I re-seed a pasture and a little goes a long way if you let it grow.
Just about all of the clovers are good honey plants but it takes alot more seed per acre so your inputs go way up and they aren't as good at choking out weeds so mowing or disking may be in your future whereas the vetch can choke out just about anything if you plant enough of it.
10-15-2009, 07:38 PM
If it is feasible I would alternate strips of buckwheat with clover. One row of buckwheat, the next clover, the next row buckwheat and the next clover.
Or you could do half of the field in buckwheat and the other in clover.
10-16-2009, 08:15 AM
I would leave in aster and goldenrod for the latest flowering you can get - what a great opportunity for the bees to make late honey for you, but more importantly for themselves! I would save myself time and money and let the field go as is - with aster and goldenrod two very important bee nectar sources, the field is certainly not fallow! I would give a lot of money to have 20 acres here of late blooming perennials with that kind of perfect nectar.
10-16-2009, 12:41 PM
Does anyone know where to get goldenrod seed at a good price....for lets say a 50# bag. Clover and vetch is pretty inexpensive.
10-17-2009, 04:04 PM
I planted some buckwheat this year for the first time. I was amazed at how quickly it grows and blooms. The bees worked it well. Did not plant enough to get honey, but next year I will. I think you could do staggered plantings on 20 acres and have a constant bloom.
10-17-2009, 05:40 PM
Goldenrod runs about $150 a pound...
10-17-2009, 09:02 PM
Goldenrod seed are expensive as Mr. Bush stated. Best to collect the seed from Goldenrod plants and distribute them on your land. I collected several pounds this year from land too far away for my bees to use and scattered the seed on my own place. Most land owners will gladly give permission to collect the seed.
10-18-2009, 06:48 AM
First, I would till the field and plant Buckwheat. That will kill the grass and weeds, and prepare the soil for the next crop.
Second, I would plant white Sweet Clover/Vetch and some sort of nurse crop like Rape. The Rape will shade the soil so the clover seedlings won't dry out. The third season will bring on the Sweet Clover and Vetch bloom as they're biennials.
If you have the proper soil, the Sweet Clover will re-seed itself. That and the Vetch should last several years. In it's heyday, Sweet Clover was the best honey plant in North America.
10-18-2009, 11:18 AM
I would not plow under the goldenrod or the asters. I would wait until Late January or early February. Broadcast your chosen type of clover, vetch, or other hard seed over the field. The freeze and thaw cycle of late winter and early spring will incorporate the seed into the top of the soil and you will then have a diverse meadow that should produce some type of nectar through the growing season.