I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives
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  1. #1
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    Default I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    I moved my hives this winter, and the new location has an unobstructed southern exposure. I have about 1,000 square feet of space that I am dedicating to the apiary. I would like to fill in some of this space with plants that will attract a variety of pollinators and the bees would be included in that. My concern is having these plants too close such that we can't safely walk up to the hives without the use of protective clothing especially with two kids, four and six. It is adjacent to a garden the same size, but I am not concerned about that.

    Currently, the hives are surrounded by fabric and mulch by about 6 feet. That gives me a nice clean place to work. The flowers (including what we consider weeds) would be spread throughout the rest of the area with paths for us to walk.

    I am in Pennsylvania and I will be using plants recommend by Penn State. One concern I have is using plants that attract moths. I assume that is an issue that I should consider, correct?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    No concern regarding moths. If managed correctly your bees will take care of any wax moth larva.
    Proverbs 16:24

  4. #3
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Biaviian View Post
    .. I have about 1,000 square feet of space that I am dedicating to the apiary. I would like to fill in some of this space with plants that will attract a variety of pollinators and the bees would be included in that.
    I would not spend a second worrying about your honey bees included in this list.
    Your "acreage" is very insignificant to bother and your bees will be flying away anyway.
    They will be looking for a "bigger fish to fry" to be worthy of their time.

    So if concerned of the pollinators, only think of local bumblebees and solitary bees as a real consideration.
    Plant what will benefit the locals.

    How do I know?
    Because this is exactly the case that I have.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Russian sage, clover, and lavender are choices the bees love! A healthy hive has no problems fending off moths and most moths do not mess with bees.
    Feeding early patties. https://youtu.be/bUDd3vk7bgY

  6. #5
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    My preference is low maintenance perennials if I am putting in flowers so I dont have to replace them or do much with them.

    I have picked out some of the flowers in my yard by looking at what the bumble bees are attracted to at the outdoor section of the local hardware and garden centers. Another option that I have seen is bags of pollinator blends that have lots of different seeds that bloom at different times.

    Have you considered trees? Bees are attracted to some trees (fruits, lindens, not sure what else) and I have heard that a tree generates more nector (and honey) than flowers for the same footprint. A tree only blooms once a year though.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    My preference is trees. Linden, sourwood, black locust, maple. Once they are in, and established they are on their own with minimal upkeep from you. They will live long after you are gone as well so you are helping future generations. A single good sized maple tree will produce way more nectar and pollen than a 1,000 foot planting of flowers with a whole lot less effort on your part.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    I have about 1,000 square feet of space that I am dedicating to the apiary. I would like to fill in some of this space with plants that will attract a variety of pollinators and the bees would be included in that.
    Gals and guys.
    What trees?
    A single healthy adult basswood tree will easily cover 2000-3000 square foot as a base.

    We are talking of 1000 feet square UNDER the apiary. This is tiny.
    My little, tiny, toy veg garden is 800 feet square (40x20 feet).
    This is so tiny - not even worth talking of some pasture (outside of few mint and catnip bushes).
    Get serous.

    You can trivially just cover the entire thing with landscaping fabric and dump wood chips on the top.
    Plant several bushes as a live perimeter and hive separators (privet, aronia, black/red currants, raspberry clumps) as well as dwarf/semi-dwarf fruit trees.
    This would be one serious consideration as for me (which basically what I did).
    The residents bees ignore the plantings around them. They all fly away.
    Last edited by GregV; 03-02-2019 at 12:49 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
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    Minden LA, (NW Louisiana)
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Speaking to the concern about bees on your flowers being a threat to folks nearby, this has not been a problem for me. I have a tiny lot, and we have a lot of flowers in pots and on a large trellis on and around our deck. We enjoy sitting out there and watching the honeybees, bumblebees and other tiny pollinators working over the flowers. They aren't at all defensive while on the flowers, and if bothered, simply move away, usually to a nearby flower.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    We watch solitary bees on our flowers daily but we haven't seen many honeybees on our trees and flowers. Thanks for the confirmation.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Greeny View Post
    Speaking to the concern about bees on your flowers being a threat to folks nearby, this has not been a problem for me. I have a tiny lot, and we have a lot of flowers in pots and on a large trellis on and around our deck. We enjoy sitting out there and watching the honeybees, bumblebees and other tiny pollinators working over the flowers. They aren't at all defensive while on the flowers, and if bothered, simply move away, usually to a nearby flower.
    We watch solitary bees on our flowers daily but we haven't seen many honeybees on our trees and flowers. Thanks for the confirmation.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by elmer_fud View Post
    Have you considered trees? Bees are attracted to some trees (fruits, lindens, not sure what else) and I have heard that a tree generates more nector (and honey) than flowers for the same footprint. A tree only blooms once a year though.
    Trees are the way to go if you have the room. The part of our property we cleared is about 6 acres. We have 67 in total. On those six acres, I have planted 92 trees in eight years with just over half being fruit and nut trees. On top of that, I think we have around 150 berries between raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, marionberries, loganberries, boysenberries, honeyberries, and goji berries. We also have four grape vines and three kiwis. I keep mason bees and have houses all around our orchard. I've dabbled with leafcutters for our small garden (the one adjacent to the hives), but I have issues with birds. I just let the other politors (mostly ants it seems) take care of our large garden.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    We are talking of 1000 feet square UNDER the apiary. This is tiny.
    My little, tiny, toy veg garden is 800 feet square (40x20 feet).
    This is so tiny - not even worth talking of some pasture (outside of few mint and catnip bushes).
    Get serous.
    Wow, what a welcome to this community. I'll close the door on my way out.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Wow, what a welcome to this community. I'll close the door on my way out.[/QUOTE]

    Don't be disheartened by that comment. But a honey bee can cover a 12 mile radius circle. 1,000sq ft isn't a lot. But 1 maple on it can do a lot. When I had bee's in my yard my wild plum tree's were over looked. No bee's in my yard the feral hives were all over them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Wow, what a welcome to this community. I'll close the door on my way out.[/QUOTE]

    Don't be disheartened by that comment. But a honey bee can cover a 12 mile radius circle. 1,000sq ft isn't a lot. But 1 maple on it can do a lot. When I had bee's in my yard my wild plum tree's were over looked. No bee's in my yard the feral hives were all over them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    It's true that whatever you plant will be a VERY small amount compared to their forage area. I think the last number I heard was something like 16,000 acres being what a hive can cover.

    With that, it doesn't hurt to have bee friendly plants and if everyone did this, that would sure cover a lot of area.

    I planted different types of clover around my hives. It withstands being walked on, trims up easily, and produces a ton of flowers. Along my apiary I planted English Lavender. The bees goes nuts for it! Also, African Basil grows like a weed in my area and makes HUGE stalks of blooms the bees hang out on. Not only do these look great and smell great, but the bees love them. I also sprinkled "Forget me not" around the property that gives me very long blooms and reseeds itself year after year.

    My Pride of Madera is also a huge win for the girls. I'm not sure if that grows well in other regions but it's everywhere here.

    All I've listed use very little water and makes my apiary part of the yard, instead of a secluded section of it.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Biaviian View Post
    Wow, what a welcome to this community. I'll close the door on my way out.
    Sorry if you took this as some rudeness towards you.

    The "Get serious" (I hope you notice) comment was clearly addressed to the "gals and guys" giving ideas about getting the full size trees
    (that was entire context of my post - the trees)
    Clearly, the ideas of getting full sized trees for your 1000 ft. square is not at all serious and not to be taken so.
    I don't see anything rude about just stating the fact (instead of giving a new bee wrong ideas).

    In this context, the 6 acres is actually a worthy area to talk about and do something with.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by CLSranch View Post
    Don't be disheartened by that comment. But a honey bee can cover a 12 mile radius circle. 1,000sq ft isn't a lot. But 1 maple on it can do a lot.
    I think 12 miles is somewhat optimistic. Perhaps in extremis (?), but I'd suggest 3 or 4 miles under normal circumstances - however that's still quite a few thousand acres within which to forage...

    1.000 sq ft is a tiny area by comparison - I have a 60x40 greenhouse, that's 2,400 sq ft and I'd say that one medium-sized tree could just about be housed on it's footprint - but certainly not a big 'un. One other thing to bear in mind is that the immediate area around beehives is 'poop alley' and so bees will tend to forage further away from their hives for that very reason.

    Only yesterday I placed a plant-pot of flowering blue-bells (which I'd like pollinated) on top of a hive - but the bees ignored it. A couple of passing bumble bees didn't ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  18. #17
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnmyke View Post
    I planted different types of clover around my hives. It withstands being walked on, trims up easily, and produces a ton of flowers. Along my apiary I planted English Lavender. The bees goes nuts for it! Also, African Basil grows like a weed in my area and makes HUGE stalks of blooms the bees hang out on. Not only do these look great and smell great, but the bees love them. I also sprinkled "Forget me not" around the property that gives me very long blooms and reseeds itself year after year.
    Do you have issues with honeybees when walking through those flowers? That is my only concern though it is probably unfounded.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Sorry if you took this as some rudeness towards you.

    The "Get serious" (I hope you notice) comment was clearly addressed to the "gals and guys" giving ideas about getting the full size trees
    (that was entire context of my post - the trees)
    I wasn't sure the meaning so I took it the wrong way as I usually do. I understand the purpose behind the post. I didn't think of honeybees when I planted trees. I was happily surprised that I was planting trees that bees love without knowing it. I came to this realization when I started keeping honeybees. I started with carpenters, then mason, then I dabbled with leafcutters, and now I do honeybees and mason bees. We have enough wild carpenterbees on my grounds. We do LOVE watching them collect pollen.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Are you going to need bear fencing? If so, better to have a cleared perimeter inside and out. Depending on your climate and small hive beetle situation it is often advised to have hives in full sun. Trees? hmmm. Personally I would prefer the geocloth fabric for a good distance under and all around the hives. You can see what bees are falling or walking much easier and are less likely to lose a queen in the grass. That is practicality driven, but aesthetics could push you in a different direction.

    I agree with the area immediate to the hives being "poop alley" and no foraging.
    Frank

  21. #20
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    Default Re: I'm looking for advice on planting around my hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Biaviian View Post
    I was happily surprised that I was planting trees that bees love without knowing it. I came to this realization when I started keeping honeybees.
    In the spring when the trees are blooming go walk into the orchard. I have seen hundreds (there were probably thousands) of my honey bees in my crab apple trees collecting pollen. I could hear the entire tree buzzing from several (10+) feet away when it bloomed because there were so many bees in the tree at once.

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