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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
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    67

    Question

    My dad and I have an acre or two that we have available to plant. Should I plant alfalfa or clover? If we plant alfalfa we will cut it and bale it, after the blooms of course. If we plant clover, it will become pasture. What plant has a longer honey flow/ which is more plentiful in honey production? We have about 20 steer calves at a time, would they mow down the clover before it even went to bloom? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,797

    Post

    I haven't planted either just for bees, but I get a lot of honey when the neigbor lets his alfalfa bloom. I've seen them ignore white clover until it's almost brown sometimes. Other times I've seen them working it. It depends on what is available at the time. Either make good honey, in my opinion.

    If you want something to fill the gaps in the honey flow, how about buckwheat? You can just let it go to seed and plow it under or disc it and get another crop. If you stagger planting it you could keep something available to the bees all year round, although they may not use it when something better is available.

    The clover sounds like less work since you won't have to bale it.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    5,159

    Post

    Huban clover is your best bet. It will bloom all year if it gets rain. Mine dried up during the end of July and through August and came back and bloomed again from September through first frost in November.

    Another benefit is that it will bloom the year planted unlike the other clovers that need a dormant period and won't bloom until the second year.

    Although bees work alfalfa, it irritates them. Alfalfa has a tripping mechemism that slaps the bee when they enter the flower. It takes the bees a while to learn to enter from the side so as not to get slapped. Generally alfalfa gets worked after all other sources are exhausted.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
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    67

    Post

    Yeah, but I don't think my dad would go for buckwheat, as he doesn't want to plant a crop that would be just for the bees. Now my biggest question is, do you think 10 holstein steers would mow 2 acres of clover down before it would bloom?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Pinewood Minnesota
    Posts
    124

    Post

    beekeeper, up here in Bemidji, we figure a rate of 1.5 acres minimum per head of cattle for grazing. Even then, it's pushing it. With 10 head of cattle in your small plot, the crop will be nothing but nubs, since they'll keep it chewed down. Steve

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,797

    Post

    >Now my biggest question is, do you think 10 holstein steers would mow 2 acres of clover down before it would bloom?

    Yes. My 2 acres get's eaten down by 2 horses (and now I have four) before the bees get any clover. I plant clover in the ditches and on the other side of the fence for the bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Post

    If you are planting for pasture check with someone who knows more than i, but cattle pastured on pure clover get some severe digestive problems. I think 30% clover in a mix is the max. MB: Same with horses?

    Dickm

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    I would image pure clover would be hard on them. I don't know what my pasture is percentage wise. But it's mostly grass. I have planted a lot of clover, but, of course, the horses eat it down the fastest.


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited March 25, 2004).]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Kiel WI, USA
    Posts
    2,368

    Post

    <<cattle pastured on pure clover get some severe digestive problems>>


    I think you mean bloat, that wouldn't be a problem with 10 on 2 acres, unless they were very young, because they would keep it cropped close and never get a big bellyful of clover.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Bartonville, TX USA
    Posts
    456

    Post

    bloat is an issue, so is turning them out early in the morning on clover wet with dew. If you want to maximize your grazing then do a search on 'rotational grazing'. It won't help you much on getting bloom for the bees but will allow you to maximize the grass growth. Short 'nubs' are slow to grow and recover. Rotational grazing keeps grass in a high growing state.

    We have mixed forbs in the pasture. Unfortunately in the late summer the snakeweed and bitterweed is all that is in bloom that the livestock won't eat. Something in it makes bitter honey so we have to pull the supers until the fall rains come.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    5,159

    Post

    >My dad and I have an acre or two that we have available to plant.

    What you really need to do is convince dear old dad that you can make more money on two acres of bees than two acres of cows.

    If he keeps his stinkin cows off the two acres, and you plant someting that will have an extended bloom, like huban clover, you could be in the chips, and I don't mean cow chips.

    I don't know how many hives you have, but lets say you have five. They each pack only fifty pounds honey each, a modest year. You sell your honey localy for two bucks a pound, five hundred dollars? Of course your actual mileage may vary, but you get the idea. One cow on two acres will produce what? Ten cows on two acre will produce what?

    I see you are from Minn. Other good crops for you would be canola, and rape.

    I am sure farming in Mn. is quite differant than Kansas, duh, but if you can convince him to let you have two acres to yourself your potential yield could be greatly enhanced. You may even make more money per acre than he EVER did.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Bend, OR USA
    Posts
    93

    Post

    Will huban clover bloom the first year it's planted? I need to make some decisions about what I'm going plant in the next couple of weeks.

    Roger

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Post

    >Will huban clover bloom the first year it's planted?

    Yes, and even better the second year.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    769

    Cool

    Hey BB - I plan on planting about 2 acres of Huban after the bees finish off the crimson clover in about mid-May. Did you mix any of the two-year yellow clover with your Huban? I've heard the bees prefer it and it does better in dry conditions. Thanx

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Yeah, I know now. I just don't think my dad would be very receptive to the clover idea, being as he would have to pay for it. BTW, About how much would it cost for seed for two acres?
    I think however that we may just plant alfalfa being as we need hay more than we need pasture. We already have an acre or two that you could call pasture, but it's mowed so darn close it's more like a feed lot. We will be adding a couple more acres this spring once we can find some used fence posts, as we don't want to have to buy new.
    Any ways , the alfalfa will at least give the bees something to go to when other necter sources have dried up.
    Speaking of that, is there a site of plants that bees readily visist? Do they go to soybeans?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Central Minnesota
    Posts
    67

    Post

    Also, do you think I could just spread some clover in the lawn in some obscure place where nobody would ever notice? Does clover need a lot of sun?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
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    Post

    >Speaking of that, is there a site of plants that bees readily visist? Do they go to soybeans?

    http://www.beesource.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/000500.html

    Here you go, start reading.

    >Also, do you think I could just spread some clover in the lawn in some obscure place where nobody would ever notice? Does clover need a lot of sun?


    Buy some Dutch clover and throw it in sunny places where the grass is kept short, 3" - 6". That will produce for a long time and costs about $2.50 lb.

    >Hey BB - I plan on planting about 2 acres of Huban after the bees finish off the crimson clover in about mid-May. Did you mix any of the two-year yellow clover with your Huban? I've heard the bees prefer it and it does better in dry conditions. Thanx

    Sow the clover at a rate of 15 lbs. per acre. Huban costs more than regular white or yellow clover, about three dollars per pound. I had over ten acres I planted. Three in yellow, three in huban, and three in alfalfa, the remaining was planted in rape, carnola, safflower, sunflower, and wildflowers. I wouldn't plant the safflower again, too much like cactus.

    I wanted the ability to cut one and not the other, or re-sow one if it didn't do well.

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