Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Paramaribo, Suriname, South America
    Posts
    6

    Question Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Hello Beesource Community!

    I live in Suriname, South America, and recently came into possession of about 1 hectare of pasture.

    I'd like to start keeping bees in on that property but it's currently covered in a species of grass that grows to over waist high. I won't be able to mow it using machinery because my bees are Africanized bees and get VERY pissy at loud noise and vibrations.

    I'm hoping someone can suggest a way to replace that grass with another ground cover plant that will require less maintenance (this grass grows incredibly fast) or some other way to keep the field manageable without frequent mowing.

    The area is improved swampland. Well drained and fertile. The previous owner mowed biweekly and also used some controlled burns every dry season to manage the field.

    I'm not sure what other info would be useful but I'm happy to answer any questions that can help.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
    Posts
    271

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Grazing animals, mowing, or herbicide are your 3 choices. For the kind of grass of which you speak, lots of herbicide with repeated applications.

    I'd go with the animals; however, that would probably require a good fence.

    Good luck!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Paramaribo, Suriname, South America
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    I don't know if animals would be safe around africanized hives, and I don't want to spray anything that could do permanent damage to the area...

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,442

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Ammonium Sulphamate is an eco-friendly herbicide, if you can source it locally.

    If you fit each hive with abundant ventilation and some kind of easily operated entrance closure, then you could close-up the hives the night before, then mow away to your heart's content. If they can't get out, then they can't attack you.

    To open the hives (say, an hour or so later) using a low-tech solution - rig up a mechanism you could operate from the end of a very long string.

    But - if you want to go a little higher tech, then consider using 27Mhz Radio Control equipment which is a fairly redundant frequency these days, although still used for garage door openers and the like. Easy enough to use a servo to open a suitably designed entrance. I've bought several sets of unwanted 27Mhz gear for very little money, but haven't found a compelling use for them yet ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Wise county,Texas
    Posts
    287

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Close them up in the evening and mow at night.
    “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic”

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    247

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Can you tell us specifically where in Paramaribo you live? (not your exact address, but your approximate location).

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Some kind of cover would kill grass without chemicals. Roofing felt or black plastic. Grass is a noxious weed when it comes to bees. It crowds out all sorts of food sources for the bees.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
    Posts
    445

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    With respect to nectar and pollen production, trees by FAR are the largest producers of nectar and pollen. The problem with trees is their seasonal production and limited window of that production. In a tropical climate, this may not be the case.

    I have attached a spreadsheet of various tropical and sub-tropical trees by geographic location that may be of help to maximize resources you may already have.

    Ernst Seeds also has a very good pasture seed mix for honey bees which I will be planting on my pastures along with some Daikon Radish, and Bucketwheat in some heavily weeded/over grown locations. You may need to select species that are more suitable to your location and application especially if you plan to run livestock on the pasture so try using the Seed Finder Tool located under the Products tab.

    Good luck!

  10. #9

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Go ahead and keep bees.

    Put the hives in the middle, and the bees will gather nectar from plants from within 10km in all directions.

    While they prefer to gather closer if possible, they usually won't gather nectar much closer than 50m from their hives, or at least that is what I have been told.

    A one hectare parcel is probably not much more than 50 m from the center to the edge. No matter what you plant, the majority of your honey will come from other properties.

    In the 1930's, research was done to learn how far bees would travel for nectar, and how well they would do when at different distances from a source of nectar.
    Hives were placed at differing distances from plots of irrigated alfalfa in a very dry climate with no other nectar sources. (Montana)
    What they found was that bees do best about 0,8 km (half a mile) from that nectar source, and did pretty well as long as the nectar source was within 2.5 km (1.5 miles). They would travel farther than that, but at about 8km (5 miles) they were not able to gather more than they consumed - the hives did not put on weight.

    Interestingly enough, the hives located in the alfalfa field didn't do as well as the ones 0,8 km (half a mile) away. I'm not sure that result would be repeatable, but it is what the data showed.

    If you want to get rid of the grass, close up the hives when it is cool outside, and plow the field. After the field has been worked appropriately, plant something else. That works on the grass we have here (in Wisconsin, USA) and might work there. And it might not.

    If you can talk to a local farmer, you will get a better answer than talking to a bunch of beekeepers. And they may have the equipment to do the work.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by A Novice; 09-20-2019 at 06:18 PM.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    551

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    Quote Originally Posted by A Novice View Post

    While they prefer to gather closer if possible, they usually won't gather nectar much closer than 50m from their hives,
    I have my bees (atleast as far as I know) in all of the trees and plants in my yard when they bloom so I this isn't true for me. The closest flowering tree (large ornamental apple) is about 15 feet from my hives and I have seen hundreds of bees in it when it blooms. I was not hearing large numbers of honey bees in my trees before I started keeping bees.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Turning a Neglected Pasture into a Bee Yard?

    I did say usually

    I have Japanese and European plum trees, several types of small fruits, medlars, apples and pear trees all within a hundred feet of my hives, as well as a vegetable garden. (it is a bit crowded...) I almost never see honey bees visiting any of those. They also seem to ignore the basswood tree across the street, which is about 70 feet from the hives.

    However, I am surrounded by a variety of ornamental and shade trees up and down the streets, courtesy of the city where I live, so the bees can afford to be picky, as there are unlimited supplies of nectar within half a mile of the hives.

    The only time I see bees on my own plants is later in the season, when nothing else much better is available. There appear to be some feral colonies in my area, as I see them prospecting my swarm traps (haven't caught them yet) but I don't see many in my yard under normal circumstances.

    Your bees are not my bees. They may act differently.

    My point was that the bees don't need the grass cut. However, rereading the original post, it looks to me like keeping the grass short was for the benefit of the beekeeper, not so much the bees.

    I do think the local farmers would know how to deal with that. I like Michael Bush's suggestion to put down roofing felt or black plastic.

    I have had pretty good success with outdoor carpet, which I get from the bargain bin at a local home improvement store. It is death to grass and most weeds.

    I have that under my hive stands now, though I was too focused on getting rid of all the grass, and didn't mention it.

    Actually, a 3 m square piece of carpet under the hives would work well, and leave the grass on the rest to make the hives less noticeable.

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