I'm starting to work on my list of things to do in the late fall, winter and early spring. Planting is one of the key spring topics. I have a long stretch of country road (2 miles) with sholder and ditch that could be planted with honey producing plants. Any recommendations or past sucess stories would be greatly appreciated. On the list of plants to consider so far are: buckwheat, horse mint & fireweed, crimson clover & new england aster. As always, thanks for contributing and helping me along the journey - Martin
joe-pye weed,milkweed,woodland sunflower,sumac
Golden Rod and crown vetch! Good luck and please, do a follow up and let us know what you decide. Debbie
I always figure you plant to fill in the gaps. Early, late and during a drought or a dearth. If you can keep something blooming all the time from early to late the bees will be very happy.
Am I correct that you are only going to plant the shoulder and ditch?
My bees get a good start (weather depending) with the colts foot and dandilion that grow naturaly on the road sides.
If I were to plant somthing (with out plowing a whole field) I think it would be Birdsfoot. A nice, small, yellow flower that the bees just love and grows well along the roads as well as in fields. In fact I intend to topdress my "lawns" with it next spring, or maybe the spring after.
I've planted a lot of birdsfoot trefoil. But the horses eat it down before the bees get any.
>>be planted with honey producing plants. Any recommendations
You must consider the time required in growing the plants. Buckwheat can give you a tonne of late season honey, but it is difficult to grow, properly. Sunflowers will require time and investment.
My advice is to plant something cheap, perennial and with an abundance of nectar. My vote is for sweetclover. White honey, and flowers vigoursly for two months., You will get more honey off this plant, with little time and investment involved, than any other flower out there. Underseed it to dandilions and you will have strong colonies going into your clover flow...
I am assuming that your crownvetch is the same as ours in Pa. From what I've always been told, there is absolutly no nectar in this man-made produced plant. The highway dept. plants that stuff all over the place up here as they feel since it was developed at Penn State its something great.
Maybe there is a difference in region names for plants. Crown vetch here is of no use. And if it gets transplanted in your garden, you will learn to hate it since it can be almost impossible to get rid of.
I do not have my books available, but recently read that one of the types of clover, that is not common, has the history of blooming up till the first hard frost. Maybe someone else knows what this type is?
What ever you choose, my guess is to go for any late summer/early fall plant. Dandelions and early clover is everywhere, so I would not plant more. Joe-pye, goldenrod, etc.
Let me bring on the wrath of the Bee Source readership and suggest a few things. I say this as I question what resources you are using and what has ben suggested to you.
First is that buckwheat is not a fall, winter, or early spring plant. Second, buckwheat has not provided me with a dark honey in my hives (I have heard almost too dark to be flavorful) despite 2 years of planting it with this year having 2 one acre plantings and a third crop from the seeds left by the second. Maybe it is not economically feasible.
The third, and biggest, thing that I want to suggest is an excellent book on apis mellifera called "The Hive and the Honeybee". It contains state by state information on major and minor honey plants so you can make a better informed decision as to what to plant if you are looking for a honey crop. As an additional reference I would suggest "Honey Plants of North America" for full descriptions of what is mentioned in the first book. Then with the above info I would visit my local agricultural agent (or comparable for your state) and find out about suggested varieties to grow.
I have the following books and they have helped me. I also peruse the readings at the government ag agent offices and find them very helpful.
Gratefully my wife has not complained about the money spent on these books or my honey plantings. Wish I could get some dark buckwheat honey!
Yes on the buckwheaat, at least it does well in this area. I sowed some seeds on top of the ground out in our field about a month ago and it is blooming great now. No on the crimson clover. I planted it last year, it bloomed this Spring, and I never saw a bee in it. I also read, as someone else stated, that bees don't work crownvetch. They do work the plain purple vetch, and it's very easy to grow, stays green during the Winter, and blooms in Spring here, then reseeds itself well. Another thing I had good luck with was purple phacelia. If you have moist enough conditions, plant some borage- bees love it. I am trying some birdsfoot trefoil this year, so I don't know how well it will do yet.
I agree, Buckwheat, atleast around here, is considered a summer crop. In fact ag experts (again, around here) say that for planting buckwheat for a crop it should be planted on the 4th of July. When planting as "green manure" or to cover weeds it can be planted earler, later and up to 3 times in the same year.
In years past I have planted buckwheat many times. Always with a honey crop in mind. Despite a full feild of beautiful white flowers that would be just full of bees I never got a super full that I could take off and call "Buckwheat Honey". My conclusion is that it would take many acres of the stuff to do so.I do, however feel that it was always worth the effort to have a necter source at hand at that time of year.
Buckwheat does need to go into "fit" ground but it doesnt have to be great ground to get a good crop.
Birdsfoot and clover can be spread by hand over existing crops and will take hold. It is recomended to spread in the spring when you still get hard frost at night. The theory being that the coming and going of the ground will work the seed in.
Queenannsrevenge,I have the impression that you want to plant the ditch and road shoulders, not plow up any fields, is that correct?
>I do not have my books available, but recently read that one of the types of clover, that is not common, has the history of blooming up till the first hard frost. Maybe someone else knows what this type is?
Huban, a white clover, and the best honey producing clover of all. It starts blooming after the yellow is finished and will bloom until frost. I planted this last spring and it is still going good for me, however it will do better after a dormant period. It did almost stop during the six weeks of drought, but hung in there and came back.
When planting clover or alfalfa, sow very shallow in late summer before the fall rains for the following year. It needs four sets of leaves before frost to make it through the winter.
Thanks to everyone so far on their responces. To help answer some of the questions raised:
* I am looking for good plants that can easily be seeded on about a 2 mile stretch of sholder & ditch on a country road. These should be plants that once started will naturally expand and maintain themselves.
* I am not looking to til or plant fields.
* I have two acres that my home sits on - this is planted heavily with white clover. Love the stuff and it produces plenty of nector and honey.
* I do read - to include the hive & the honeybee. My personal take on life is that reading can only give me 65% of the solution, mentorship & hands on along with some luck provide the rest. I tend to look at this forum as an extension of mentorship - just long distance... I want to hear what has worked for others & their experiance. (and nursebee, I'd rather you added to the conversation than not at all - your points are well recieved! )
* I have been taking everyones thoughts - recording them and looking up recommended plants on the internet to see what more I can learn.
* I was given a Vitex bush this year and the bee's love the thing - collected some seeds - going to spread them in the woodline this spring.
THanks again, and please keep those thoughts & letters comming!
Being an old Kentucky native, I'd recommend blackberry bushes. They do will in ditches (where the extra moisture lingers a little longer), the bees work the blooms and you'll get some wonderful tasting honey as a result and lastly, you can use the blackberries to flavor your mead! Oh, and no maintance if you use the local, thorny varity (otherwise, I think it's recommended to cut them back each Fall for better berry production the next year).
bees don't like to collect buckwheat honey because it secreets nectar only a very short time in the morning. I collect BW honey only after all the other nectar sources are done. Which is good because it would taint my good honey. Flowers til frost. That is what makes is sutch a valuble honey crop here.
Ian: how many acres of buckwheat is needed to produce a super of honey ? I planted about an acre this summer - the bees love it but I got none of the honey! I'm trying crimson clover for next spring.
I haven't heard anyone talk about success or issues with Crimson Clover either. Anyone, Anyone, Bueller?????
You would think that you would of gotten some honey off that buckwheat field if they were working it. Maybe it was all going to the hunger of the hive,
I agree with QueensAnnsRevenge (wasn't that Blackbeard's ship?), you had better research your clover types if you're planting for the honeybees. I'm going from an old (and probably, failing) memory here, but I'm not sure the bees work crimson clover. I want to recall they work mostly white, yellow and arrowhead clover - there's something about their mouth parts not being able to physically reach the nectar of red clover. Anyway, a little research before you buy ($) and plant might be beneficial for you.