I am thinking about planting some clover this weekend on a field of mine,the front yard of my homesite, and in the orchard. I was wondering what variety of clover is the best for the bees. I know the Red clover isn't very good most of the time because their tongues aren't long enough. Other then that is there a preference out there?
I planted some Ladino clover last fall. It had nice scent and lots of bees working it. It is supposed to be a perennial. High mowing height helps.
Dutch white clover. I read somewhere that the bee and this clover were made for each other. They really work it. If your just going to let the field go plant sweet white and yellow clover.
[This message has been edited by bjerm2 (edited August 19, 2004).]
The field will get occasional mowing to keep it down to a managable height, and the rest of the time it will be just eaten by the goats or any other animals I end up with. At this point the most important aspects to the venture are best bee acceptability, good reseeding, and good germination. I won't be using the drill technique. It will be more the broadcast method.
I just purchased Ladino @ $2.75 lb/ 3lbs. per acre. You may find the ladino is cheaper than the dutch. They said I should wait til 9/15 to plant.
Yeah I am now thinking either I will do the dutch or the ladino. I don't want anything too tall. I have a hard enough time with ticks and fleas out there. Can you get away with less lbs per acre if you are patient and can wait for it to spread?
[This message has been edited by rwjedi (edited August 19, 2004).]
Dutch or New Zeland white clover is very good for applications where you will be mowing. The best blooming will be when you cut the grass and weeds down no more than five inches.
I planted Hubam because it is reported to have the best nectar production. I had two extended blooms the first year and none the second. It is a ladino clover, and according to the county extension office it is not tolerant to over crowding. If you are going to intersperse it into an existing field do not use it.
White or yellow sweet clover is your best bet. It will thrive with other crops or weeds and when mowed it will still bloom.
You should also broadcast some hairy vetch. I am reseeding my Hubam field with hairy vetch and white sweet clover, and some bricillias (turnips) for the deer.
The recomended seeding rate is 15 pounds to the acre for sweet clover, hairy vetch is a little over forty.
If you are not going to use a drill for seeding, I would recomend that you mow very low, brodcast and run a harrow over the field. The seed needs to be in contact with the dirt to germinate, covered is better, but no more than 1/4 inch.
I am halfway through planting 3 acres of sweet clover. I use an earthway broadcaster, hangs over your shoulder, holds about 5 pounds of seed. Here the yellow sweet clover was $.97 per pound and the white was $2.97 a pound, with a spread rate of 8 pounds per acre. I read above 15 pounds per acre. Not sure why the difference. My earthway said 8 pounnds per acre and so did my seed guy. We needed rain real bad (especially for my buckwheat which is in bloom), but it didn't rain until I got halfway done working up the ground! I wish I would have got it seeded before this nice rain! Supposed to plant the sweet clover 60 days before first frost.
Remember the sweet clover gets 5-6 feet tall! You plant it this year, it starts, then comes back next year with the bloom. The yellow clover comes first, very intense flow, then the white, which lasts longer but not as intense IMO.
Hope this helps.
from what I have read the ladino clover spreads from the nods. As I understand it that means at the joints within the stem. I guess you could plant less per acre but you will be looking at more time for a stand. You must plant this fall if you want a bloom in the spring.
I was told by an old timer (now deceased) that yellow and white sweet clover were great for bees, but he would never put animals on yellow clover for forage that it effected the way their blood clots. I don't know if this is true or not but he believed in it strongly anough that I saw him plow down an entire stand of hay because there was yellow clover in the hay seed mix. I would imagine his bees were as disappointed as I was because I lived close enough to him that my bees could of helped his in the gathering of nectar.
It is true that there is coumadin in the sweet clover. I read that at first the animals will not eat it until they get used to the bitter taste. If you chew the leaves (don't all beekeepers like to see what stuff tastes like ? you can taste it i think. But it is not dangerous to the animals unless the hay gets moldy. There is no problem grazing them on it, but they won't eat it at first...
Unfortunately the days of grazing dairy cattle are long gone around Ohio & Indiana (sigh).
But I got to say that the smell of blooming sweet clover and honey bees is a lot sweeter than what the cow pasture used to smell like!
The problem with clover is when it molds in the bale. Then if the pregnant cow eats it they run a chance of slipping the calf, (abortion).
Many cattlemen will grind a percentage of clover to their regular feed to stretch their feed bill.