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Thread: Clover question

  1. #1
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    Default Clover question

    I have a friend with 20 acres of clover - 15 in crimson clover and 5 in mixed yellow & white clovers. He wants me to put some hives out on his property this Spring/Summer. My question is: while the mixed clover is, I think, good forage, what about the crimson? I've heard different things from different folks....just trying to expand the information-base by asking you folks.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Clover question

    mine seem to like it pretty well

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Clover question

    I've read that crimson clover is not the best for honey bees. The nectar is down too deep and their tongue is just too short to get it. Bumble bees on the other hand have longer tongues and love this flower.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Quote Originally Posted by MichelinMan View Post
    I've read that crimson clover is not the best for honey bees. The nectar is down too deep and their tongue is just too short to get it. Bumble bees on the other hand have longer tongues and love this flower.
    This is one of the things I have heard -- which makes me wonder if it's worthwhile to put hives on this.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Bees can work crimnson clover with no problems.It's red clover they can't work I plant 3 acrs of it every year and have to be careful they don't backfill the broodnest with it .Super early for it or you will be sorry.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Quote Originally Posted by FishmanMike View Post
    Bees can work crimnson clover with no problems.It's red clover they can't work I plant 3 acrs of it every year and have to be careful they don't backfill the broodnest with it .Super early for it or you will be sorry.
    OK, now it's making sense to me....red and crimson are different clovers. My friend is definite about his clover being crimson, so I should be good to go.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Clover question

    yes they like the crimson clover

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Quote Originally Posted by FishmanMike View Post
    Bees can work crimnson clover with no problems.It's red clover they can't work I plant 3 acrs of it every year and have to be careful they don't backfill the broodnest with it .Super early for it or you will be sorry.
    OK , just to keep myself amused and confused I googled crimson clover and red clover and read all kinds of articles. Some people use the names interchangebly... to keep everyone confused! So here's an excellent article on red clover. It clearly states the problem for bees... corolla tube in the flower is too deep to get to the nectar.

    Now this article on Crimson clover does not mention bees at all! (allbeit this is not a bee site)

    To further complicate things this site : honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Honeybees/Forage.htm lists Red clover as a major nectar source for bees for many areas. (just click on your state and you get a listing of the major bee plants in that state). So what gives?

    I live in Ottawa and have never seen (what I now have come to understand is) crimson clover. On the other hand we have lots of red clover. I have seen bumble bees work it but not honey bees. So, Fishman thank you for the correction. I am now more well informed.
    Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you`ll be among the stars!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Clover question

    red clover in my opinion is closer to a purple and crimson clover is definitly a red, my bees love the crimson clover and yes I have never seen honey bees work red clover

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Quote Originally Posted by MichelinMan View Post
    So, Fishman thank you for the correction. I am now more well informed.
    Let me add my thanks to you all (or, as we say in my world "y'all")....I have learned a lot of really useful information thanks to your responses. Of course I now have a problem getting that old Tommy James song out of my head: "Crimson and clover...over and over..."

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Clover question

    In my area of Texas, crimson clover is the most dependable source of surplus honey. Usually always make a super and often 2 supers (mediums); but the colonies must be built up early enough to take advantage. In our area that means by early April (on ungrazed pasures) or mid April, on grazed pastures where the cows are pulled from the pastures early April.
    White sweet clover [mid May] is the most productive honey plant in Texas on heavy dark soils [we generall have sandy loam]. Yellow sweet is suppose to start producing about 2 weeks earlier than white, but I have no experience with the yellow.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Clover question

    My first go-around keeping bees I kept them on alfalfa when I could, because i always got good crops off it. I recall reading that bees did not like to work alfalfa, because something about the nectary "snapped" at them... or it was deep and difficult to get to. What I really recall was that the bees learned to get to the nectar from the SIDE, and not the usual way down thru the top of the floret.

    Could it be that the bees get to the deep basined clover the same way? They go through the side? Just curious.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Clover question

    I've been toying with the idea of planting several acres (3-5) with something for the bees to forage on, maybe alfalfa or buckwheat. I have already planted Crimson and Dutch clover. Not sure how that (alfalfa and buckwheat) will grow in Georgia, or if it's a worthwhile investment. Also have read buckwheat makes a dark, strong honey...is that in demand? We also have large cotton fields in our area I have thought about trying to put hives near for the cotton bloom (many 100's of acres) to try and get a varietial honey. I'm not sure what they spray on cotton that might kill bees...any thoughts?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Not sure about alfalfa or buckwheat, but several folks in the Alabama Beekeeper's Association place hives on cotton fields. I think that they have to move them before the defoliant spray goes on, but otherwise I haven't heard anyone discussing major problems. The guy who cottons the fields around my place puts his fertilizers and pesticides at the base of the plants (they're in liquid form), so I've never had a problem with mists or dusts. I'm no expert on this, though...just a casual listener/observer.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Re alfalfa, the blossom is like a spring loaded trap, you can set it off with a toothpick or grass stem to get an idea. Only good for one shot per blossom. Supposedly it can catch and hold bees long enough to kill them. They also are supposed to learn to approach from the side so that it misses them.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Clover question

    The more I read about alfalfa the less inclined I am to plant it. Buckwheat is still in the running, as is borage, sunflower and mustard. Still more thinking to do on it. I am not sure that 3-5 acres will really make a difference, maybe if it's something that fills in a nectar gap. Maybe it is just satisfing the need to DO something, and the bees won't really care much either way.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Quote Originally Posted by markmaster View Post
    but several folks in the Alabama Beekeeper's Association place hives on cotton fields. I think that they have to move them before the defoliant spray goes on, but otherwise I haven't heard anyone discussing major problems.
    During the mid 80s a friend of mine [Mark Hamilton] allowed me to put 5 colonies on a trailer which he moved around to different locations. After our field of Hubam clover got plowed under we discussed moving them on cotton. I insisted on a written contract in which the grower had to provide us with 3 days notice before spray, otherwise he would pay us for every colony on the trailer [30] at a predetermined amount. Back then we received no pollenation fees [only honey] and he received the benefit of free pollenation. The grower called us in advance and we moved the bees the very next day and all worked out good. Next year Mark had enough bees to fill his trailer. He put them with the same grower, verbal agreement, but the grower made an 'emergency' spray without notifying Mark, about wiped out most all of his colonies. He also, never received any compensation for his loss.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Buffalo,
    Sunflower is a major late summer to fall flow around here and the honey is very bright saturated yellow and is very sweet. However, when I extract, it will start to crystalize in only a couple of weeks. Easy to reliquify, but you have to keep doing it. When I get a little, I just treat it as creamed honey and use it as a spread or sometimes I use it for cooking and baking.

    BB

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Buzzybee, that is good to know. I'm going to be doing a farmers market booth starting in June and I have thought about offering creamed honey. Do you sell yours and if so, how's the demand? Thanks, Mike.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Clover question

    Buffalolick, Haven't sold any honey at all. Just going into my third year this year. Last summer/fall and the year before, we had almost a three month sunflower flow here in north central Kansas and the girls really packed it in going into winter. I left it all for them to use and got some of what was left in the spring. I pulled a couple of frames of the sunflower honey and it hadn't crystallized in the comb during the winter, but once I got it out in the spring (crush and strain), it started creaming within a little over a week. Also, I'm assuming that this was mostly sunflower honey as they were the most prevalent source of nectar, but I'm sure there was other nectar mixed in with it. We also had ragweed and milkweed, but neither as much or as long as the sunflowers.

    Use some to bake cookies and they were great! Used the rest on toast. Like I said, it was very sweet. I got a little honey right after the clover flow and I think it was probably 50% sweeter, but I thought the clover was way better tasting.

    Once the honey crystallized, it lightened up considerably and it was pretty stiff. (about the consistency of refrigerated margarine in a tub) All in all, it was worth getting though, and this spring once the flow starts, I plan to get some more!

    Hope that helped!

    BB

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