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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Omro, WI
    Posts
    46

    Default birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Has anyone planted birdsfoot trefoil for their honeybees? Is so do they work it and does it produce good honey?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,268

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    It's a fantastic plant, and a consistent honey plant. It blooms most of the summer. I read somewhere, I think on Kirk Webster's site that it was planted deliberately long ago as a cattle feed. It grows in the ditches around here. If you have the resources to plant a lot of it go for it!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    >Has anyone planted birdsfoot trefoil for their honeybees?

    Yes.

    > Is so do they work it

    Yes.

    >and does it produce good honey?

    I think so, but a lot of other things are blooming at the same time, so I can't say I know exactly what it tastes like... but I love it. It even does well when mowed like in your yard as does white dutch clover.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    My road sides are covered with it, and I have asked the road department not to mow. I like the fact that it blooms most of the summer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    530

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    We planted it for the first time this spring. It is unbelievably slow establishing, so be prepared to weed. It is a very slow growing weak seedling.
    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Dave did you plant it with anything else? Legumes sometimes need a cover crop, like annual rye?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Pope, AR, USA
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Sometimes a plant will grow well in one part of the country but not another. Also some places it will yield nectar and other places none. Goldenrod does nothing in my part of the Ozarks but is a major Fall producer elsewhere. Sue Hubbel a famous bee author remarked about Goldenrod not yielding here in my part of the country. I could not get Birdsfoot trefoil to grow in my pastures. I am trying sweet clover.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Moccasin: If you have well drained soil try some alfalfa.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Pope, AR, USA
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Franklin View Post
    Moccasin: If you have well drained soil try some alfalfa.
    Ben is alfalfa better than sweet clover. I tried it too because I feed Alfalfa to my horses in winter. It seems the sweet clover is more drought hardy. We have had our 4th Summer drought. Thanks

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
    Posts
    945

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    alfalfa requires a higher soil ph [less acid] than clover, alfalfa tollerants almost desert dry, trefoil does not compete with other crops, it is not grown much any more, the forage tonnage yield is low, it does relatively better on poor well drained land and is acid soil tolerant. red clover is an annual but reseeds itself pretty well, it is a good choice for rich moist land and is a little more tolerant to acid soils, white clover is loved by bees it does not compete well with tall grass at all, it makes a nice place for bees if it is mowed a lot. ladino and yellow clover are the clover equivelents of trefoil they do not compete well in good stands of forage. crown vetch is a biannual [2 years] that does real well on hillsides and ditches if the are mowed late or left alone it will increase on its own, it is a first choice to control erosion it will dominate with a thick mat over the years. all these legumes are appreciated by the bees and will make similar light honeys.
    Last edited by mathesonequip; 06-20-2013 at 05:17 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    195

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    Birds foot trefoil is abundant in SE WI, my bees work it whenever it is the best forage available. Produces all season, reseeds itself and yields abundant light, sweet honey. However, unless you are harvesting it as animal forage, it just does not make economic sense to plant it just for honeybee forage. Establishes slowly so sow with a cover crop like oats or annual grasses.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    bridgton maine
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    The stuff is gold! It takes a full season to establish so if you plant now you will see the best effects starting next spring and every spring and summer after that. you can grow this on a brick and if you get the seed that you can inoculate it just keeps improving the soil with fixed nitrogen so it is a great companion plant and soil improver. I have planted this in central Maine on gravel along with timothy, alphalpha and white clover and only the trefoil and clover thrive. ill cover this all with winter rye in early September and the following spring its everywhere. great stuff!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    530

    Default Re: birdsfoot trefoil for bees?

    We have white clover, alfalfa, Sainfoin, Red Clover, and sweet clover. I would say that the Sainfoin and sweet clover are equal in attractiveness to the bees. Red clover is a short lived perennial and not popular with honey bees. The white clover has the longest blooming period, and is readily used by all pollinators. This spring we planted a patch of trefoil and crimson clover. They are too young to bloom yet. Crimson clover is the annual clover. The trefoil is very slow establishing and the weeds are a big problem.
    Dave

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