Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
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    3,404

    Default Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    I live in zone 7b. I have enough acreage that I can hopefully make a difference in the amount of pollen and nectar that my bees have available by providing different plantings. We have a long summer dearth and a marginal fall flow. I need something to fill in the long gap during the dearth and help prop up my hives if/when the fall flow is non existent. Long term I'm looking at planting some Bee Bee Trees to help give a boost during the summer.

    When privet is over, our flow is over until Goldenrod. What can I plant to help fill in that long gap? I have 3 acres that I planted in Crimson Clover last fall. That won't help much because it will be blooming during our normal strong spring flow. I have that 3 acre area to plant, along with 5 more acres that I could plant in something. We have 120 acres and while I can't plant the whole place in bee food, I can plant areas around the whole farm and probably be allowed to plant on my neighbors farms also.

    What are some plants that can be planted from seed that you guys would recommend planting? I've thought about trying Borage. I don't know how much area 1lb would plant but a quick Google searched shows that I can buy 1 lb for about $55. That's sort of pricey but if it keeps coming back it would be a worthwhile investment.

    Please offer up any plants that would provide mid summer pollen and nectar.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    West Chester, PA
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Borage is a great nectar producer. I've bought several pounds of seeds and spread them around open spaces, large pollinator gardens and regular gardens. It is great in this kind of a use as it is an aggressive seeder. You could seed it once and potentially never get rid of it (bad news too if you don't like it). It produces until frost. I had planted some in a more traditional formal garden. It didn't look as good there, but certainly did thrive and spread to other gardens.

    The downside for almost any plant in the dearth is almost all go semi-dormant. The dearth is usually caused by high heat and low moisture. I don't know of plants in my zone 6 that thrive in that environment and survive our Winter. This can be mitigated by irrigation if you have it. I've read that suburban areas can actually outproduce farms for honey because homeowners plant so many flowers and continually water them, especially through the dearth. I don't know if that is really true, but does show the importance of water if it is only a little true.

    I am planting Russian Sage and Anise Hyssop this year from plugs. We also have a lot of White Dutch Clover coming back for year 2 and I am hopeful for high production from it.

    Trees are likely your best long term nectar provider. They take several years to get established, but will likely outproduce smaller plants on the ground. The best approach is to have a mix instead of just several acres of the same crop or tree. You might want to do 3 acres bordered with bee trees and 1/2 acre plots of various plants to provide the mix. Some plants have great years while others produce nothing, all depending on the weather.

    Jim.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Ephraim, Utah, USA
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Last year my wife and I planted about an acre of mixed bi=annuals and annuals, and the kind that keep coming year after year without replanting. We used a mix of wild and domestic flowers that grow at our altitude. A local seed dealer had formulated this same mix for his son who is also a beekeeper. He had us mix the seed with rice hulls to assist with planting as some of the seeds are really small. We calculated that which ever plants adapt to our field will become dominate. The mix is designed to provide "all season" nectar availability for the bees. The bees are located next to our 10 acre alpha alpha field. I am considering two options. First is to plant the entire 10 acres into flowers and the second is to cut first crop and then let it go to blossom and just graze it off after september 1st.

    By way of suggestion, I would counsel you to check with your local seed dealers and see if they have any suggestions. Flower seed is a bit pricy so you might want to establish the first field and collect seeds for your future planting. I am retired from regular employment and so I have a lot more time to tinker around with flowers and other projects. I don't have a clear idea about the economic ratio between crop farming and honey pasture, however I know it is a whole lot more fun to tinker with the bees.

    I wish you well, LP

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    3,404

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Thanks for the replies. I've been reading online off and on all afternoon. I ordered several varieties of plants that all bloom mid to late summer through the fall. Prairie Moon Nursery has quite a variety of native wildflowers. I ordered 4 varieties of Aster, several varieties of native Sunflower, a native mint and a couple other flowers. I ordered 1 lb of Borage, some Milkweed and some Lavender. If I can get a good stand of plants I should have a nice little food source. Everything I ordered should get more prolific each year. I am not concerned with it being invasive or hard to control. I have access to herbicides that will keep it in check if I ever have to go that route. I hope to just let it go wild and spread as it will.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,254

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    brad, there's a guy not far from here that has some of the same bees that you and i have. he planted some small acreage of yellow sweet clover and buckwheat last year, and he had forage well into the dearth. i'll pm you his name and number.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    3,404

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Peter Lindtner, in his book Garden Plants for Honey Bees likes sunflowers for pollen in July-August. (Wicwas 2014.) Also borage.

    Mignonette (Reseda odorata), originally from Egypt via Napoleon to France, is an annual he says the bees "love very much." It's been mentioned in BeeSource and might be fun to try. (Report back, please.) And how about Golden Honey Plant, aka Wingstem? Lindtner has it as Actinomeris alternifolia, but more often it's listed as Verbesina alternifolia.

    If you have a place for vines, Lindtner thinks Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is great in late summer for both pollen and nectar.

    For shrubs and trees, of course, the Bee Bee Tree, also Golden Rain, Crape Myrtle, and Japanese Pagoda. I don't know when it blooms in Alabama, but in September up north there's Seven Son Flower (Heptacodium miconiodes). Lindtner also really likes the Franklinia tree, originally from Georgia but it went extinct there probably in the 1800s and now is available via horticultural channels.
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Stockholm, NJ, USA
    Posts
    326

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Try montauk daisies. Home depot usually have them on sale at the end of Fall. They are very hardy.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    408

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Sumac species and sourwood trees are another option. Fragrant sumac (R. aromatica), Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (R. typhina); would give you an additional two to three weeks. Find some wild plants and harvest the seeds and spread around on raw disturbed land. That would get you to mid-July in wet years.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Heptacodium miconiodes is one of my favorites. My bees just love it and it flowers late in the season when very few other thing are. The bark has great winter interest as well. My bees ignore my Crape Myrtle varieties. I'm in the same area as Kofu so it may be different for you.
    Dan Boylan, When in doubt "It's mites".

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Quote Originally Posted by UTvolshype View Post
    Sumac species ... are another option. Fragrant sumac (R. aromatica), Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (R. typhina); would give you an additional two to three weeks. Find some wild plants and harvest the seeds and spread around on raw disturbed land. That would get you to mid-July in wet years.
    I got interested in this topic and discovered that bloom time for sumacs sort of jump around. Plus there's a lot of variance in when people say they bloom. I have a fourth one on my list, Shining sumac (Rhus copallinum), which may be one of the best considering when it (supposedly) blooms. My info is mostly from books and on the web, and I'm posting it for the sake of discussion.

    This is what I have for bloom times (and height). It may vary by region, but maybe they'd still be in this sequence?

    • Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica) β April-May, 2-5'
    • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) β May-June, 15-25'
    • Red Sumac (Rhus glabra) β June-July, 10-15'
    • Shining Sumac (Rhus copallinum) β July-August, 20-30'

    And then there's Chinese sumac (Rhus chinensis) which supposedly blooms for 2-3 weeks in September.

    (I didn't list any of these earlier because, according to Lindtner, they mostly provide nectar and not so much pollen.)
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
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    3,404

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Sourwood seems to be hit or miss. We have some, although a very small amount of it and I've only seen bees use it one year. There is some Sumac around but it's sparse. The varieties we have around here bloom around mid June. Just as the privet is drying up. Thanks for all the replies.
    The more I learn about bees, the less I know.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Waldport, OR
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Borage 19.99 a pound at: http://www.outsidepride.com/

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,240

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Last year I planted "mancan" buckwheat. I did not plant until late July, had blooms in 3 weeks or less
    I planted in strips & rotated , mowing /tilling them as the blooms withered.
    Buckwheat grows thick enough to shade out persistent weeds like johnson grass & thistle.
    Allegedly, the buckwheat honey is less desirable.
    I saved seed, plan to plant earlier this year, unless I find some thing better soon.
    Some one suggested "black crowder peas", which I plan to try.
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    NW Elmore County, Alabama
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Hey Brad, I'm in the nw corner of Elmore county. I've tried to get the bee bee tree to live the last couple of years. It'll do good when I set it out. Over the winter it'll turn black from the ground up and die. I talked to the folks who sold it to me. I was informed that something went through their nursery and everyone they sold died. They replaced the two then they did the same thing.

    This is my 2nd or 3rd year with seven sons. Great timing on the blooms, it's an after the flow bloomer. A friend of mine has the Chinese umbrella trees and says he has tons of bees on it every year. I'll check it out and get back with you. I had good luck with the buckwheat. Time your dearth and count back 3 or 4 weeks to plant.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Have you ever try the yellow and white clovers?
    How about the sainfoin and Nygers?
    Plant some perennials so you don't have to replant every year.
    I think the goldenrod is o.k. too for the Autumn flow. Do you have some there?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,240

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Another bush suggestion would be chaste tree. Bro in law lives in Huntsville, says the bees love it, should be in bloom soon. My lost buck wheat seeds are coming up pretty thick in the veggy garden.

    http://thedailysouth.southernliving....-pure-delight/
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Kokomo, Indiana
    Posts
    136

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    https://uswildflowers.com/wfquery.php?State=AL

    Looks like a very helpful link to give you some more ideas on native plants.

    Typically sages are a great plant. You can find a species that will survive just about anywhere and are very drought / heat tolerant. Usually they grow into nice clusters of plants depending which ones you get.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Hardinsburg KY
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Aralia Spinosa(Devils walking stick)

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Benton, KY
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: Looking for mid to late summer pollen plants

    Quote Originally Posted by tech.35058 View Post
    Last year I planted "mancan" buckwheat. I did not plant until late July, had blooms in 3 weeks or less
    I planted in strips & rotated , mowing /tilling them as the blooms withered.
    Buckwheat grows thick enough to shade out persistent weeds like johnson grass & thistle.
    Allegedly, the buckwheat honey is less desirable.
    I saved seed, plan to plant earlier this year, unless I find some thing better soon.
    Some one suggested "black crowder peas", which I plan to try.
    It's my understanding buckwheat requires dark to germinate. I've mowed and also disced it in, but never got a second regrowth

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