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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    5,159

    Post

    I have read that plantings for bee forage is not generaly a profitable endevor.
    OK, so this is a hobby.
    I have ten acres of crop land left that was not put into CRP and would like to put it into use for the bees.
    My area is just west of the Flint Hills in eastern central Kansas. Main crops in this area are wheat, milo, soybeans, corn and sorgum. Alfalfa and clover do quite well here, I do not know if canola would.
    I know that the clovers will bloom at different times and there is some overlap, I do not know in which order they bloom. I have thought of sowing a mix of white, yellow, and red with alfalfa, however it may be better to strip sow them seperatly in hope of cutting them to possibly entice a second bloom.
    I have quite a few questions and would like anyones input on how they would or have done this.
    Some terms that I have read and do not know are the names; sainfoin, trefoil, and trifolium clovers. What are these?
    The local co-op listed both red and crimson clover, is one better for bees than the other? Another that I had not know of is hubam.
    And lastly, does anyone know of a source for goldenrod seed?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,094

    Post

    >Alfalfa and clover do quite well here, I do not know if canola would.
    I know that the clovers will bloom at different times and there is some overlap, I do not know in which order they bloom. I have thought of sowing a mix of white, yellow, and red with alfalfa, however it may be better to strip sow them seperatly in hope of cutting them to possibly entice a second bloom.

    And you could sell the hay.


    >Some terms that I have read and do not know are the names; sainfoin, trefoil, and trifolium clovers. What are these?

    Sainfoin. It's a very long lived clover from Asia and Europe. Some stands in Montana are 60 years old. Many clovers do not live that well for this long and have to be reseeded every other year. Sainfoin does not need to be reseeded. It can survive -40 F or more and requires a soil rich in lime. It is drought tolerant. Might do well where you are if you have a lot of lime in the soil.

    Trefoil. It's a legume most like alfalfa, but with a more triangular leaf. It's a bit more hardy than alfalfa, tolerates more variance in soil type and is popular for plantings for wild animal habitat because it does well for a long time without intervention. This should do well for you. I have planted it, but my horses eat it before the bees get to use it, so I can't say how the nectar is.

    Trifolium. This is just the genus for clover. All of them are trifoliums. It means, (can you gues?) it has three leaves.

    I have planted, white, sweet, red, crimson and some kind of subclover along with alfalfa and trefoil. When it managed to bloom, without being eaten by the horses, because it's in one of the areas the horses can't get to, then sometimes the bees are all over them and sometimes they ignore them. I think it depends on what other crops are available at the time.

    >The local co-op listed both red and crimson clover, is one better for bees than the other?

    Actually I was under the impression the sweet clover was better, but the bees seem to like them all.

    >Another that I had not know of is hubam.

    This is one kind of sweet clover and I think it will work well if you have clay soil and a ph of 7 or higher.

    >And lastly, does anyone know of a source for goldenrod seed?

    It's a weed, but I have no idea where you could buy seed. You could probably keep you eyes open and find some along the road right of way and either get seed or transplant some. I think it will spread quickly if the grass has been plowed under.

    Another weed you could get from roadsides is chickory. The bees seem to love it.

    I'm going to plan buckwheat for the bees. It's cheap enough, it's an annual, but if you do several plantings in the spring so they bloom at different times, it will go to seed and the seeds will come back up the same year. If you time it right I think you can have buckwheat blooming for them from fairly early spring until the winter freeze, and the bonus is the honey is worth more. If you want you can cut the buckwheat for hay just before it goes to seed. The animals all love it. But then you'd have to replant it.

    Another plus, if you like deer, the deer love all of the clovers and the buckwheat.

    I never get to cash in on this as the horses beat them to it.

  3. #3

    Post

    I have planted buckwheat. 10 acres of it and it will bloom and set seed from about 35 days after planting until a frost kills it. When you walk through it the smell is great. The bees only feed on it very early in the morning till about 10:00 then they stop. If you let it go to 60 to 70 days you can plow it under and the seed from the plants will grow the same year. If you plow down the second growth it makes a great green manure crop. We let ours grow and did not combine it in the fall. We had anywhere from 30 to 50 deer out there all winter long. Oh and by the way the amount of buckwheat honey they brought in was amazing it total zero. They prefered the uncut alfalfa field to the north. I would stick to white and yellow sweet clover and mix in some hairy vetch. Plant it in the spring then no till some in the following fall so you will have alternating blooms.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Post

    >Might do well where you are if you have a lot of lime in the soil.

    Limestone everywhere, the soil here is black gumbo, sticky when wet and hard as concrete when dry.

    I will check into the trefoil.

    >The local co-op listed both red and crimson clover, is one better for bees than the other?

    I read that the red and crimson is better suited for larger bees which have longer toungs.

    >Another that I had not know of is hubam.
    This is one kind of sweet clover and I think it will work well if you have clay soil and a ph of 7 or higher.

    I will have to check the ph. I had to neutralize it in the garden with bonemeal.

    I found a source for goldenrod seed, my pockets aren't deep enough for it though, $12. per ounce, $125. per pound! I seem to remember about where I saw some in the ditch, guess I'll have to go hunting for that place.

    I will also look into the hairy vetch. Looks like so far that my best bets are white and yellow clover, alfalfa, hairy vetch, trifoil, look for some goldenrod seed and perhaps chickory.

    OK, now the rest of you have to have some ideas too! Don't be shy... I appreciate the help.
    Bill

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Post

    I have much goldenrod in my fence rows and the bees seem to love it. It makes a very late, dark, strong honey that many people don't like and it granulates in about 4 to 6 weeks. Some people like it but many don't. Once started Goldenrod spreads like wildfire. The crop that I raise that the bees seem to like is sweet clover but you need to let it flower before cutting it for hay. Cutting it means that you will need to replant yearly. We use it for hay and green manure to rebuild the soil for other crops in rotation.
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    medesto,indiana,usa
    Posts
    257

    Post

    Ive always thought a few acres of black locust trees would be a nice honey planting.The per/acre yeild is one of the highest at about 1500 lbs a acre potential.Its usually a pretty dependable crop just make sure the seed source came from trees north of your location.The land could be put into Forest Reserve to save on taxes and the trees could be coppiced for fence posts or small logs.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,094

    Post

    You can buy sourwood trees from Gurneys and they are supposed to be able to grow as far north as me, in South Eastern Nebraska.

    I love locust wood, and I like the trees, but I would not want to be cutting them into posts or logs. Those thorns hurt for weeks afterwards.

    Also if you have horses here's some thoughts:

    "BLACK LOCUST
    Robinia pseudo-acacia
    (pea family)

    TOXICITY RATING: High to moderate.

    ANIMALS AFFECTED: Horses are particularly at risk, but all animals ingesting the plant may be poisoned.

    DANGEROUS PARTS OF PLANT: Leaves, especially wilted leaves, young shoots, pods, seeds, inner bark.

    CLASS OF SIGNS: Depression, poor appetite, weakness, paralysis, abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody) and abnormalities in the heart rate and/or rhythm. Death is possible. "

    This is from http://www.vet.purdue.edu/depts/addl/toxic/plant48.htm

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Post

    I have not had any goldenrod honey, I have read some discussion here on this board and was looking for nectar plants that would be blooming in the late fall, mainly for stores to overwinter the bees. If it crystalizes in 4 to 6 weeks I would think that it would not be that good of a choice.

    We do have locust trees, whether they are black or not I am not sure. I went to Michaels link he posted and the leaves seem to be right. The thorns on ours are four to eight inches on the trunk of the tree.

    >I love locust wood, and I like the trees, but I would not want to be cutting them into posts or logs. Those thorns hurt for weeks afterwards.

    Amen to that! It makes good firewood, but tends to rot quickly. We put Osage Orange in the ground here.

    We have never been without horses, I guess that we have been lucky not to have any get sick from snackin' on locust trees.

    Guess I'll go dig out the Gurneys catalog, sourwood, eh?
    Bill

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    97

    Question

    Franc,

    Could you share where you obtained your yield information? Thanks.

    I would like to plant some nectar sources in nearby ditches and possibly railroad tracks. Both have established grasses and other weeds/flowers, with more gravel than soil. Any thoughts?

    [This message has been edited by Brandon Shaw (edited February 05, 2003).]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    medesto,indiana,usa
    Posts
    257

    Post

    Brandon theres alot of info just use a search engine to search the net.As I remember I read the yeild in a book about nectar plants in the midwest It was awhile ago.Anyways I did alittle searching and I found this link hope this helps. Http://www.apitherapy.com/beeplnts.htm

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    97

    Post

    Thanks Franc. According to that link, the white clover is supperior in honey production to red clover. The silver linden tree looked quite promising as well.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    Maybe a more reasonable goal in planting for bees isn't a large nectar crop, which they will find on their own anyway, but an early source of pollen and nectar to stimulate early brood rearing?

  13. #13

    Post

    That would be Maple trees and dandalions. So in early spring let those dandalions go to seed before you mow the lawn.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    Post

    http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture/book/index.html
    The above website has some good info on pollination of various plants and the nectar content of these plants. I have only been beekeeping for a year, but bee planting has become a major interest for me since gardening is my primary hobby. In fact, the garden is the reason I started keeping bees in the first place. During the Fall, I noticed the wild asters were covered with bees, so I saved seeds from the plants after the bloom and have planted them in flats to set out during the Spring this year. Some other late season bloomers that bees reportedly like are ironweed, Joe-pye weed, wild phlox, boneset, smartweed, thoroughwort, and sunflowers.

    [This message has been edited by dragonfly (edited February 07, 2003).]

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >Some other late season bloomers that bees reportedly like are ironweed, Joe-pye weed, wild phlox, boneset, smartweed, thoroughwort, and sunflowers.

    I wasn't aware that sunflowers had much nectar. I'll have to look into that.

    Around here the smartweed is very hard to control and I would not want to plant it.

    As to early season, I get friends in town to gather their dandelion heads and I plant the seeds all the time.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >Some other late season bloomers that bees reportedly like are ironweed, Joe-pye weed, wild phlox, boneset, smartweed, thoroughwort, and sunflowers.

    I wasn't aware that sunflowers had much nectar. I'll have to look into that.

    Around here the smartweed is very hard to control and I would not want to plant it.

    As to early season, I get friends in town to gather their dandelion heads and I plant the seeds all the time.

  17. #17
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    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    I'm not sure how much nectar sunflowers have, but I have read that some beekeepers specialize in sunflower honey, so there must be a fair amount, or maybe it just depends on the variety of sunflower. I have read that smartweed makes good honey. Any experience on whether or not this is true?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Wink

    Sunflower honey is great.
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >I'm not sure how much nectar sunflowers have, but I have read that some beekeepers specialize in sunflower honey, so there must be a fair amount, or maybe it just depends on the variety of sunflower.

    I don't know. I guess I always just figured they were going for the pollen on them.

    >I have read that smartweed makes good honey. Any experience on whether or not this is true?

    I try not to have any smartweed and I don't have much, but I have friends who have a lot of problems with it. One of them also has a hive, I'll have to ask him if he's noticed, but my guess is there are still so many things around that it would be hard to say if it was smartweed honey.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Post

    As I understand it, the type of sunflowers do make quite a bit of difference. Plant the gray stripe for bees, the black seed type is for oil and not very good for bees. I don't have any information on wild sunflowers.
    Bill

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