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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    West Point, Iowa
    Posts
    24

    Post

    how many acres of alfalfa clover do i need to keep my 8 hives in and produce plenty of honey?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    6,619

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    Remember your bees are working in a 1-2 mile radius. The few acres you plant, and the few feilds a mile away.
    I never have been so aware of neighbours feilds as when I started making money onthem

    Ian

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    winnipeg,Manitoba,Canada
    Posts
    93

    Post

    I think that the ratio is 5 acres per colony for alfalfa and 3 acres per colony for canola!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    Look here for the info you seek.
    http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/book/index.html

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    An excert from above article;

    Honey Yield, Nectar Secretion, And Pollen Production:

    Vansell (1941 ) showed that some alfalfa cultivars yield more honey than others. Loper and Waller (1970) showed that when several clonal lines of alfalfa were presented in bouquets to honey bees, the bees consistently showed preference for certain ones. Several terpenoid compounds have been identified in alfalfa varieties (Loper et al. 1971, Loper 1972). The significance of these compounds in honey bee behavior is under investigation. Loper et al. (1971) identified one of the aromatic compounds as ocimene. Its true significance in bee attractiveness has not been determined. If an attractant factor can be isolated, its use in the breeding and selection for cultivars with greater attractiveness to pollinators could become quite important.

    Alfalfa produces a large amount of nectar, which is highly attractive to many species of bees, and from which honey bees produce excellent crops of high quality honey. Kropacova (1963) estimated that alfalfa produces 416 to 1,933 pounds of nectar per acre. McGregor and Todd (1952*) estimated that 54 to 238 pounds of nectar per acre were produced during a peak flowering day.

    When alfalfa is cut for hay just as flowering starts, as is normally practiced, the beekeeper gets little or no alfalfa honey. If the crop is left to produce seed, the amount of nectar available to a colony depends upon the plant density, the competition from other bees, and other environmental and agronomic factors. As a general rule, one strong colony per acre of seed alfalfa should store 50 to 100 pounds honey. When the colonies are in the area at the rate of three per acre they may store little or no surplus honey.

    Alfalfa is a poor source of pollen for honey bees. Usually they will collect it only when no other source is available. When honey bees have only alfalfa upon which to forage, the colony strength diminishes rapidly. Alfalfa pollen is relished by many other species of bees including the genera of Bombus, Halictus, Megachile, Melissodes, and Nomia. Numerous observers have reported that honey bees collect alfalfa pollen more freely in the Southwestern and Western States than in the Northeastern States. But whether the higher visitation rate is due to condition of the alfalfa plants, lack of pollen producing competing plants, or both conditions has never been resolved.

    Tysdal (1946) estimated that 2 billion flowers per acre of alfalfa were produced in Nebraska. Lesins (1950) calculated that about 200 million flowers per acre were capable of setting pods. At five seeds per pod and 220,000 seeds per pound, this indicates a potential of 5,000 pounds of seed per acre. Pedersen et al. (1956) showed that 46.7 percent of the flowers can produce pods, indicating that a ton of seed per acre is possible.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

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    Keep in mind that alfalfa is usually harvested before it blooms.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

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    Usually it is harvested before it blooms. It's sure nice when it's not. The soybeans, of course, have to be left to go to seed (beans) so the bees get full benefit of the blossoms.

    I think a lot of people would be surprised how much of your honey is wildflowers from the ditches and from trees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Post

    Yeah, alfalfa was my only real honey flow last year.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Porter, Ok USA
    Posts
    491

    Post

    Fellows;

    Where I grew up no one planted alfalfa. I was always told that even where it grew the bees could not reach the nectar, the bloom being too deep. As I recall that story, bumblebees worked the alfalfa by chewing a hole in the blossom and reaching in for the nectar. This opened the bloom to honeybees who came next, so that some production did occur.

    What is the real story?
    Ox

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    Sorry MB but alot of soybeans are cut for hay before they bloom. This is a common practice. But is not used this way nearly as much as normal hay crops.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

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    I didn't know anyone cut soy beans for hay. That is not done in this part of the country that I know of.

    As I understand Alfalfa from when I was going to raise leafcutter bees for Alfalfa pollenation, the honey bees have tongues long enough to reach the nectar without actually getting into the flower and therefore could get the nectar without pollenating it. While the leaf cutter bees had to get down into the flower to get the nectar and therfore they did pollenate it. The bottom line was if you were raising alfalfa SEED honey bees were helpful in pollenation, but not nearly as good as the leaf cutter bees.

    That's what I was told by the alfalfa seed growers. I don't know how true it is. I've never bothered to go into the alfalfa fields and watch. I should.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,619

    Post

    >>cut soy beans for hay

    Wow, some expensive hay. Soybeans are worth a fortune,
    Getting alfalfa honey is not as easy as it sounds. Usually it is cut at no more than 20% bloom, leaving only a week of foraging. It has been noticed that the bees will still forage well after the plant is cut. But foraging never the less.
    Seed alfalfa is the money/honey maker. But it works the best with leafcutters in tandem. You see the leaf cutter is small and cralws right into the flowers. The alfalfa flower, when it is visited, trips the bottom pedal after it is pollinated. That trip slapps the face of the honeybee and discourages it from foraging its flowers. So whenleaf cutters are preasent, they trip the flower and the honeybee visits afterwards.

    Ian

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Bartonville, TX USA
    Posts
    456

    Post

    Ian you're right. Alfalfa uses a trip mechanism to deposit the pollen. Honeybees learn to avoid this so don't make great pollinators of Alfalfa - if you are raising it for seed you have to boost the density of hives to make up for this learned behaviour.

    Leafcutters don't travel far so they are often combined with honeybees for pollination.

    Certain clovers and hairy vetch are alternative legumes you can grow for hay and get a good honey crop. The hay quality is higher if it's cut just before bloom but if it is in your field you can wait a bit. 2nd and 3 cuttings may yield more bloom, particularly if they are too weak for the farmer to bother with.

    There are also some low spreading clovers that will grow and bloom fairly continuously if you keep the field grazed or cut it down to about 5 inches several times during the season.

    All of these contribute nitrogen to the pasture and when mixed with other grasses provide a high protein pasture without as much risk of bloat or toxicity that turning livestock out on staight clover or alfalfa.

    Right now I am experimenting with a mix of hairy vetch, coastal bermuda, and rye grass for year round bee friendly pasture. I abhor herbicides so there is a nice mix of aster, dandelion, and assorted other befriendly forbs mixed in. I do end up doing a cutting late summer to knock back the snakeweed and bitterweed that the animals won't touch-it competes for moisture and the honey is as bitter as you can get.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Wink

    If you like Alfalfa, Darla says Buckwheat is better! Its O'Tay!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    West Point, Iowa
    Posts
    24

    Post

    so i should have about 2 acres per hive?does that sound right?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    As a general rule, one strong colony per acre of seed alfalfa should store 50 to 100 pounds honey. When the colonies are in the area at the rate of three per acre they may store little or no surplus honey.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Maple Plain Minnesota
    Posts
    182

    Cool

    Where I live we have lot of "part time" farmers. (40 hr job also) Therefore the alfalfa is often cut late. Some times when the alfalfa is in full bloom there are lot of bees and buterflies there. Other times none. I don't know why. The bees are kind of hard to find but the buterflies can be seen when going along the field. If the buterflies are there so are the honeybees.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

    Post

    Soy bean hay is normally grown cut and replanted with soybeans for seed crop. I was told that doing this keeps the microbes the soybeans need in the soil while giving a boost of nitrogen to the next crop. Several years ago it was real common and was even done with corn being the second crop. I know a dairy farmer that still does this every year. He round bales the soybean hay and places it in the barn. He has an unroler and mill to make his own feed. All alfalfa around here is square baled and to expensive for this purpose.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Posts
    71

    Post

    Soy Bean Hay? Here in Iowa, Soybeans were listed at $9.42 per Bushel today,03/10/04. Thirty-five to forty bushel per acre. Might make hay of the chaft. Does Soybeans make good honey crop? Thanks Jerry

    ------------------

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    I think some years soybeans are my main honey crop. Depends on if the neighbors alfalfa blooms or not.

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