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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Wellington, Ohio, USA
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    Default What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    We're going to overseed our pasture this year and thought we'd try clover to encourage the bees in our hives. (I understand they forage up to 2 miles away, but it can't hurt to have something nearby.) I know Ledino is a good variety, but we'd like to plant several varieties that bloom throughout the season. What other varieties would be good and when do they bloom? Thank you in advance for any comments.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Spotsylvania,VA
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    78

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    White (Melilotus alba)and Yellow sweet (Melilotus officinalis)clover are both reported to be major sources of pollen and nectar in Beekeeping Basics from PENNSTATE. Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum ) minor sources of both.

    Cheers!

    Both white and yellow sweet clovers are biennials. After germination in late spring or summer, the plants put their energy into developing a healthy root system. First-year plants can be found in late summer. In the second year, plants may be seen in late April or early May. By that time, individuals have a strong taproot and a root crown from which new shoots appear. Plant height is dependent on root development and growing conditions; healthier plants are taller. Sweet clovers flower from late May through September, set seed, and die. Both plants produce small, hardy seeds that remain viable in the soil for as many as thirty years. - Obtained from the Dept. of Natural Resources of Wisconsin
    Last edited by Wyldbee; 03-23-2010 at 07:16 AM. Reason: Bloom info added

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Anderson County, Texas
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    1,264

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    You need to check for your area.

    Here the most dependable surplus clover honey crop is crimson clover, but it blooms early [Begins blooming early April to mid April [on grazed pastures] and ends about 3 weeks later] and colonies must be built up early to fully utilize the flow; but with proper management this can be accomplished.

    White Dutch also yields good but blooms mid March which is to early to have maximum colony strength to fully utilize the flow. The heat will kill it out later, but I have read where in the north it will bloom all summer long, I suppose because it is not as hot.

    Sweet Clover will also produce good flows, especially on heavy soils, and if found in sufficient quantity is the best producer of the clovers. My understanding is that the white sweet clover [Hubam, melilotus alba] is an annual see site below: http://websearch.cs.com/cs/boomframe...er%2Ftypes.htm ; And apparently some of the yellow sweet clovers are also annuals.

    From the American Honey Plant the following is a description of some of the clovers [edited by me by cutting out some portions]. I hope this helps.

    ALSIKE CLOVER (Trifolium hybridum). Hybrid or Swedish Clover.
    Alsike clover is one of the very best honey plants of America. The beekeeper who lives within reach of large fields of this crop is fortunate, for there is no better honey, and under favorable conditions the crops harvested from alsike are such as to give little ground for dissatisfaction. Some beekeepers have estimated that alsike will produce 500 pounds of honey per acre in a good season.—American Bee Journal, page 409, 1886.
    Alsike thrives on clay soil, or lands inclined to be wet, where the other clovers do not succeed. It is sown very generally in a meadow mixture with timothy or red-top. In localities where grown for seed there is a long period of bloom, which is greatly to the advantage of the beekeeper. It is good for either pasture or hay, and although by itself alsike does not yield as many tons of hay per acre as red clover, when mixed with red clover the two together make more and better hay than red clover does alone.
    Alsike is intermediate in size between white and red clover. The blossom looks like that of white clover, except it has a pinkish tinge of color not found in the white clover. The stem is upright and branched and on land with sufficient moisture reaches a height of two feet or more.White alsike will grow nearly everywhere that red clover will grow, it thrives best in
    the northern part of the country. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and New York all report alsike as especially valuable to the beekeeper.
    The honey is white in color, mild in flavor and is regarded as one of the best for table use. At times the yield is very heavy. In American Bee Journal, Nov. 2, 1899, are given several instances of large yields from this source. In one case a single colony of bees gathered 72 pounds in four days, or 18 pounds per day. Another report was of 251 pounds in 21 days, or 25 pounds per day, from alsike.
    In number two of the first volume of the "Review," Editor Hutchinson states that ten colonies of bees gathered 300 pounds of extracted honey from alsike, with only two acres within reach. This, of course, takes no account of the honey consumed by the bees, but indicates that the yield is good for the acreage within reach. In the following number of the same journal an Ontario beekeeper reports that he had not known a failure from alsike in eight years.

    CRIMSON CLOVER (Trifolium incarnatum).
    Crimson clover is grown in the Southern States, but is not hardy in the North. It is an earlier bloomer than the other clovers. The blossoms are more showy than either alsike or red clover. The plant is an annual, and must be resown to perpetuate a field.
    The honey yield is reported to be good and the quality similar to that of the other clovers. It is nowhere grown on the scale of the others, so is not so well known as a source of honey.
    Bonnier gives it third rank as a honey yielder, while the British Bee Journal states that it is about on a par with buckwheat, and that neither is satisfactory when honey of later yield is worked for.
    Niswonger lists it as a very important plant in Kentucky, and states that the honey is of a very light yellow color of good quality.

    SWEET CLOVER (Melilotus).
    Of these, two species, the white sweet clover (Melilotus alba) and the yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) are valuable plants and are widely distributed. The yellow variety blooms about two weeks earlier than the white and where both are present a long honey flow may be expected.
    Sweet clover reaches the highest development in the secretion of n,,ctar in the hot, dry summer climate of the plains region between the Missi ippi River and the Rocky Mountains. In the East, the surplus secured from this plant has been disappointing, and eastern men insist that sweet clover is overrated as a honey plant. However, those who have seen the big flows that are frequent along the Missouri River and westward are 'enthusiastic in its praise. In the region about Sioux City, Iowa, it is grown extensively as a farm crop. In this section an average of 200 pounds surplus per colony from sweet clover is not uncommon. On the limestone soils of Alabama and Mississippi it also yields freely and large yields are reported. In the irrigated regions of the West it is of great importance and beekeepers who ship sweet clover honey in carlots are not uncommon.
    The quality of the honey is excellent. It is light in color and mild in flavor, although slightly peppery to the taste. It granulates more readily than white clover, but is regarded as of number one quality in the principal markets.
    Sweet Clover as a Farm Crop
    There are large areas where sweet clover is grown generally as a farm crop, in Kentucky, Nebraska and Kansas. The increased acreage of this plant will double the possibilities of honey production in most any locality, and in numerous instances will treble and quadruple.

    Some additional sites for your info:
    http://www.nixahardware.com/alsike_clover_seed.html
    http://www.nixahardware.com/sweet_cl...ssom_seed.html
    http://www.nixahardware.com/sweet_cl...ssom_seed.html
    http://www.nixahardware.com/alsike_clover_seed.html
    http://www.nixahardware.com/white_du...over_seed.html

    Kindest Regards
    Danny
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Wellington, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Thanks for the great input!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    SE Wisconsin
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    40

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    I border zone 4 and 5. Dutch white and Ladino clover attract a few honey bees .... but the crimson attracts alot more bees, even with just a 4 week bloom period. Planted mid to late August, crimson winters over very well up here ... then blooms the month of June.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    I'm in zone 9, and dutch clover is wonderful. The only prob is, people used to seed it in their lawns to help with nitrogen so the lawn grasses did not need to be fertilized. Now everyone sprays broadleaf and uses weed n feed fertilizer and all the dutch is gone in the neighborhood. I used to live next to a county park, the clover was coming in pretty good after a couple years, then all of a sudden it was all gone, I'm assuming they sprayed with broadleaf. If it's irrigated and mowed, you can greatly extend it's season here to last a couple months or longer.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
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    3,311

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    We have a city budget crisis where they laid off something like 25% of the police department, yet the city still seems to have money to spray the weeds that don't need spraying in the first place. I saw some of the green dye of death just this week on city property. Unbelievable.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    tool, texas, USA
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    13

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    love the info. I need some info on when and how to put out clover seed. We have a 5 acres near Cedar Creek Lake that we recently semi cleared and need to put in some ground cover.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    New Cumberland, PA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    This year, I am going to be Johnny Applebee and sow clover seeds on bare ground close to my hives...

    I seriously thought of creating a gentle movement where we put signs on our untreated yards with "Bee Friendly - No Chemicals/Fertilizers applied"

    When I moved into my house about 7 years ago, the individual had the thickest grass, Now, alot of clover has moved in and I couldn't be happier.

    Most of my neighbors prefer the no chemical approach as well -- It seems to be that in the new developments that Individuals want to keep their yards clover/dandilion free, which is too bad.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Vincent, Alabama, USA
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    239

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    [QUOTE=CentralPAguy;519413]This year, I am going to be Johnny Applebee and sow clover seeds on bare ground close to my hives...

    QUOTE]

    That is so funny!! I actually did this with my extra crimson clover seed -- and told my wife I was going to play "Johnny Clover-seed" along the roadsides near our house!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Motley County, Texas
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    508

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on the various species of clover. Should I ever have property to go along with my bees, I'll definately put in some clover for the bees. I would love to have that much honey in just a few short weeks. WOW!!

  12. #12
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    Apr 2010
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    Garfield, Arkansas, USA
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    83

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    I have heard that "red clover" will not attract bees while "crimson clover" is very good. How do you tell them apart? I recently got some ladino clover and will sow it this fall. Is that white clover?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedDave View Post
    I have heard that "red clover" will not attract bees while "crimson clover" is very good. How do you tell them apart? I recently got some ladino clover and will sow it this fall. Is that white clover?
    Ladino is a large variety of white clover. Crimson bloom is bright red and shaped somewhat like a cone. Red has a bigger bloom that is round and looks more purplish to me. In my area (zone 7) Red is a biannual & crimson is an annual. The seed of both will last in the soil for many years & germinate when conditions in the spring are right. This is the first year in about 4 that crimson & red have sprouted on my farm.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Montgomery county, Illinois
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    423

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    I mowed part of our pasture yesterday and it was thick with Dutch white and bees. Needless to say, I skipped the parts where the grass wasn't real tall, so I didn't have to mow the clover with the bees in it.

  15. #15
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    Jan 2010
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    Vincent, Alabama, USA
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    239

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    Red is a biannual & crimson is an annual. The seed of both will last in the soil for many years & germinate when conditions in the spring are right. This is the first year in about 4 that crimson & red have sprouted on my farm.
    I'm glad to hear this -- I sowed crimson clover seed in my lower pasture this year (late Spring) and got nothing. White clover is abundant, thankfully....maybe next year, the crimson will emerge as well.

  16. #16
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    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by ToolBeeLady View Post
    love the info. I need some info on when and how to put out clover seed. We have a 5 acres near Cedar Creek Lake that we recently semi cleared and need to put in some ground cover.
    I would suggest disc and seed in first half of September. I did here last year and it worked well. I seeded white dutch so did not get any blooms this year as it is bi-annual. I will seed it again this fall and should start getting some blooms in 2011.

  17. #17
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    Apr 2008
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    Fair Grove,MO,USA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    My pastures and my neighbors are white with Dutch clover, it comes up every year (wild) and i've never sowed it in my pastures nor have my neighbors. I have seen only a few bees on it but as the temp. gets warmer they start working it harder. we've had 7 inches of rain this month and it's raining now The bees don't work red clover around here until it's cut the first tlme, after it's cut once they can work it because the blooms are smaller. It looks we are going to have a good sweet clover year, the stalks are over knee high already and a lot of it. Jack

  18. #18
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    Jun 2010
    Location
    Anaheim,CA, USA
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    1

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Does anyone have knowledge of the best bee foraging plants (Clover, Vetch ETC) that produce a good grade of honey in Orange County or Los Angeles in California?

    Thanks

  19. #19
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    Jun 2010
    Location
    Springfield, MO. USA
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    284

    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    I would suggest disc and seed in first half of September. I did here last year and it worked well. I seeded white dutch so did not get any blooms this year as it is bi-annual. I will seed it again this fall and should start getting some blooms in 2011.
    Ditto here. The white dutch I already had are loved by the bees. What I sewed out this winter is now only clover but will flower next year. The white dutch is great for lawns because an occasional mowing will dead head the spent flowers and promote a long growing season. It will continue to bloom here until frost. I just dethatched the yard and sewed it in. It's growing like crazy. Can't wait until next year. I hope the bees love me for it.

    Here in the city, everyone kills off the "weeds" and gives me a hard time for planting them. But now they are blooming and the neighbors "didn't realize how pretty they actually are." Such as the butterfly weed, goldenrod, and others.

    Later, John

  20. #20
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: What varieties of clover encourage the bees?

    All will do well for bees. I don't know what kind of pasture you're shooting for but if I remember right aslike isn't recommended for horses. White, yellow, huban, and dutch would be recommended along with birdsfoot trefoil and chikory.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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