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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    647

    Default Production differences with close forage

    How much improvement to honey production do you get when you move bees right on top of great forage?

    Good year for sweet clover here. I have 3 yards within a mile of good clover forage and one yard that I moved right in the middle of a half section of a dense clover field. Wondering if it's worth the effort to relocate more hives closer to the source? Yellow clover is peaking, the white clover blooms are about to start. And, it's not real easy to move hives right now as they have supers full of uncapped honey.

    How much difference does distance make to the forage source?

    Thanks. .....Don

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Stillwell, KS
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    647

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    Bump

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,958

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    I don't have my books here right now, but I'm pretty sure that in ABC-XYX or one of the other standard beekeeping books a study was discussed where bees were placed in a field of clover and other yards were place at distances of 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, etc. from the field in an area without much else blooming. It seems that by 1/2 mile production was down to near half because of the additional flight times (an extra mile of flight per trip).

    I haven't read this for many years and am going on my aging memory, but the study is there somewhere.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Falls City NE
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    In my area sweet clover is a waste of time. I am only 100 miles north at most. I have placed yards on hundreds of acres of crp sweet clover only to see nothing while alfalfa yards with farmers cutting at 20% or less bloom producing. I think you need to be farther north for sweet clover to yield any real nector.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    647

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    bees were placed in a field of clover and other yards were place at distances of 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, etc. from the field in an area without much else blooming. It seems that by 1/2 mile production was down to near half because of the additional flight times (an extra mile of flight per trip).
    Amazing, fantastic information. I'll be moving more hives tomorrow morning. Anxious to see the results, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by mark g View Post
    In my area sweet clover is a waste of time. I am only 100 miles north at most. I have placed yards on hundreds of acres of crp sweet clover only to see nothing while alfalfa yards with farmers cutting at 20% or less bloom producing. I think you need to be farther north for sweet clover to yield any real nector.
    Good information also, I should be able to see if that holds true for my area quickly. Visually I see that the Bees are working the yellow clover very hard, I'll know for sure if it results in a flow within a few weeks. Not much Alfalfa planted around here, but I'll look harder. Thanks for the tips.

    Don

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    738

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    I have noticed bees always prefer the clover over the alfalfa. I have yards in the middle of alfalfa and I rarely see a bee working alfalfa. They are all on the sweet clover and bugloss weeds until that dries up and only then does alfalfa work begin.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,457

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    You learn pretty quickly in this business that honey plants yield differently in different areas/climates/soil types or even just from year to year. Generally alfalfa yields best, though, when under a little heat stress which is not the case at all with sweet clover. As far as distance, though, certainly the closer the better. I think it's a bit more complex, though, than simple flying times. If a bee can fly somewhere around 20 mph (for easy figuring) that would put the round trip "commute" to go a mile at only 6 minutes total, foraging time probably greatly exceeds that. Yet it is clear that bees are far more efficient closer to the source. I suspect that it has more to do with the physical limitations of a bee to fly back to the hive while heavily loaded with nectar or pollen that forces them to work closer to their hive if they expect to make it back.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Grey County, ON, Canada
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    Also on a longer trip the bee will actually digest some of the nectar it's carrying

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    647

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Generally alfalfa yields best, though, when under a little heat stress which is not the case at all with sweet clover. As far as distance, though, certainly the closer the better.
    Clover is really producing here this year with all the rain we have had. Had to add 4th and 5th supers (8 frame mediums) to most hives, a few hives are up to six. Hope is doesn't get too hot here, sure would like to see 3 more weeks of flow. Didn't move any more hives around, hives are too full of uncapped honey.

    Jim, how hot is too hot for clover? Will clover keep producing at high temperatures if there is good ground moisture?

    Thanks. ...Don

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,457

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    Heat is only a problem in that it can more quickly dry out the clover. It yields well in high temps as long as there is adequate moisture.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    854

    Cool Re: Production differences with close forage

    Or in our case this year, to much moisture. Don't see the bees on the sweet clover. Good thing for basswood this year. Hopeing for 60-70 pounds off the basswood this year.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Production differences with close forage

    It is funny how each season is different, here we have had lots of moisture compared to last couple years, and the white dutch clover is blooming profusely but I don't see any bees on it (there's always bees on white dutch) instead they are working the yellow sweet clover like there's no tomorrow. Never seen so many frames packed in with the yellow sweet pollen as this year, in fact its crowding out the queen in many cases. Going to have to start pulling pollen frames out and putting in foundation to open the broodnest up. John

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