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  1. #1
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    Does anyone have any honey yield per acre figures for different kinds of forage?
    Dulcius ex asperis

  2. #2
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    How can any one have any thing remotely accurate considering all of the variables, both in colonies and weather and soil conditions and cettera? Why are you asking? R U thinking of planting a hay crop to "feed" your bees? I've heard, over the years, that if one is planning on planting clover or alfalfa for honey production, that one will get more for the hay then for the honey. Anyone disagree?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
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    >I've heard, over the years, that if one is planning on planting clover or alfalfa for honey production, that one will get more for the hay then for the honey.

    But if you time it right you can get both. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    >Why are you asking?

    Why am I asking. Good question. For a variety of reasons I guess. Mostly just out of curiosity. I realize the possible variables are huge, I'm not looking for anything more than informed guestimates.

    I too have heard it's not economically feasible to grow crops specifically for honey and as a matter of fact, a young fella I knew when he was still in diapers is now married and headed into farming. Wants to use horses, raise pigs, and grow organic grain. He stopped in today to talk about taking over our 15 acres of hayfield. For years a local farmer has been haying it in exchange for keeping it mowed, we also get all the mulch hay we want and manure, etc. We don't have haying equipment of our own and hiring it done so we can turn around and sell the hay is (was anyways) more trouble than it is worth. Old hayfields around here come pretty cheap. Anyways, we were talking about what he'd like to do and I got to wondering...

    >But if you time it right you can get both.

    Wouldn't that be sweet.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  5. #5
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    Michael, what I understand is if you wait until the bees forage on the alfalfa, you loose the protein yield of the alfalfa hay. You may or may not get a crop of honey, but you won't get the highest potential of the hay crop. Clover, I don't know about. Except to say that cows that forage on clover help make more clover and so make more nectar avaiable for the bees. But as a hay crop, I don't know.

    What about the articles in ABJ, about bee forage plants, honey producing plants? I don't read them. Do they mention what George is wondering about?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  6. #6
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    You hear all the time about such-and-such a plant being a "good honey plant", I'd have thought that some attempt would have been made over the years to try and quantify exactly what a good honey plant is.

    We have a couple of Euonymus (Firebush) in our yard, they're large, one is 20' in diameter and 10' high, the other slightly smaller. The bees LOVE it, they're all over it from dawn to dark, good weather and bad, for as long as it's blooming. Every time I walk by it I think

    . . o O (there's some pounds of honey in that bush)

    Someone, sometime, someplace, must have made a stab at quantifying the amount of honey you can get off say an acre of clover, or borage or something...
    Dulcius ex asperis

  7. #7
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    sqrcrk sezs:
    I've heard, over the years, that if one is planning on planting clover or alfalfa for honey production, that one will get more for the hay then for the honey.

    tecumseh adds his 2 cents:
    well are you talking pounds or dollars would seems to me to be the first question. and of course the second economic variable woud be the price of both forage and honey.

    in much of the us a distinction would be had as to whether the crop was irrigated or dry land.

    and yes sqrcrk you assumption that a alfalfa crop starts to decline in quality (it is still increasing in quantity) prior to bloom means that in most of the us the forage is cut before the girls even get a taste.

    i think jim fischer talked about irrigating some clover last year, so perhaps he might have a real figure.

  8. #8
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    >well are you talking pounds or dollars would seems to me to be the first question

    Oh let's leave economics out of this. Pounds per acre will be fine [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >in much of the us a distinction would be had as to whether the crop was irrigated or dry land.

    Out west I suppose yes. Here in the northeast there is very little irrigation going on, mostly on vegetables and never on fields of say, clover or alfalfa. It just ain't done.

    >most of the us the forage is cut before the girls even get a taste.

    Yep. A shame. Exceptin of course where they're growing it for seed. There's talk around here of growing sunflowers for feed and I assume that would want to go to seed. That might be fun.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  9. #9
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    george ferguson adds:
    here's talk around here of growing sunflowers for feed and I assume that would want to go to seed.

    tecumseh sezs:
    this is actually an excellent honey crop although it tends to crystalize at the first sign of a cold snap. being a hard stalk plant it is also depletes soil fertility.

  10. #10
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    alfalfa is cut before the plant starts to bloom, you cant get several cuttings off one plant ..but once it is allowed to bloom the quality goes way down ... just a short note from a small rancher
    scott ellis

  11. #11
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    >alfalfa is cut before the plant starts to bloom

    I don't doubt that for a second, but around here it seems like most farmers can't seem to get things done when they should. They'll blame the weather, but I'm sure that's only part of it. Last summer I saw an alfalfa field in the next town over in full bloom and bees were lovin` it. It was a full 2 weeks before it got mowed down.

    Our fields, which should yield the first cutting in early June haven't been cut till late August for the past 2 years and only yielded 1 cutting instead of 2. Also, the second growth white clover never materialized because it was too late.

    There are a few farmers around here that do things right, but most of them work second jobs and just get spread too thin.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  12. #12
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    Having raised both alfalfa and alfalfa honey for years in the Dakotas I can tell you that alfalfa takes a lot of heat to produce well. My suggestion is to cut the alfalfa that is growing well at about 10% bloom but with later cuttings that aren't particular growthy and appear ready to bloom early because of heat stress by all means let it bloom as the most innocent looking "short bloom" can produce a tremendous amount of nectar. That may not be the case in the northeast as alfalfa can be somewhat fickle. I have found alfalfa just 300 miles east in Minnesota and Iowa is not nearly as reliable a honey producer presumably because the wetter climate puts the energy of the plant into growth and not bloom.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #13
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    George, as you may well know, no one consistently gets things done when they should. Not even farmers. I've seen orchards being pruned during apple blossom time. Right when you'd think that they should be leaving those trees alone. So, maybe that is why your fields and the one down the road aren't harvested when they should, but when they can be harvested.

    But, your original question had to do with yield per acre, right? Since you aren't trying, I assume, to live off of your hay crop, let it bloom baby, let it bloom. The hay will still be hay, just not as high a quality. Fourteen percent protien comes to mind. Any ideas sellis? Is that way off for alfalfa? What's the potential protien after bloom? Good quality alfalfa hay for race horses will bring $5.00/45lb bale. That's what I hear. I don't know if that is wholesale or retail.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  14. #14
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    Last year, a fellow behind me planted about 60 acres of wheat and let's it fully mature. The bees seemed to like it somewhat, although there are plenty of other nectar sources in the area. My honey last year was the lightest I've ever extracted.

    Has anyone heard of wheat as a honey crop?

    [size="1"][ February 19, 2006, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: justjim3 ][/size]
    I've found it easier to keep bees than keep relationships. At least when I'm stung by bees I know why.

  15. #15
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    Honey Wheat Ale? Is that what you have?

    justjim3, wheat don't produce no nectar.

    jlyon, what sort of protien percentage do you expect from your alfalfa? If you let it bloom, how much protien do you loose? 2%? 4%?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  16. #16
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    Thanks, Mark. That's what I thought and why I asked. Honey Wheat Ale ... that's a good one.
    I've found it easier to keep bees than keep relationships. At least when I'm stung by bees I know why.

  17. #17
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    Don't laugh, check out your local micro brewery. Mine produced a batch from 5 gallons of Squeak Creek Honey, last summer.

    Then there's Dundee's Honey Brown Ale from one of the major brewerys.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  18. #18
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    >>I saw an alfalfa field in the next town over in full bloom and bees were lovin` it.

    Music to my ears [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I have been told around 400lbs/acre on a seed alfalfa crop. Weather permitting of course!!

    Clover would be my field of choice for you George. Take the seed off to boot!!
    This crop will produce more money off hoeny than the seed sells for [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #19
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    >I have been told around 400lbs/acre on a seed alfalfa crop. Weather permitting of course!!

    Well! 17 posts into the thread and we finally get a number!

    Don't worry Ian, I won't hold you to it [img]smile.gif[/img] Granted, there are a ton of variables. While waiting for something to turn up here, I've been pondering various experiments to figure out reasonable honey yields per acre and it's a challenge...

    [size="1"][ February 19, 2006, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: George Fergusson ][/size]
    Dulcius ex asperis

  20. #20
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    what is the pounds per acre comaparison for clover and buckwheat compared to that 400 lb /acre number?

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