Cover Crops and how close to hive???
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  1. #1

    Question Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    Please forgive me if this has been asked before, I used the search function and didn't find what I was looking for. On my farm, we routinely use cover crops to keep ground from laying fallow. Sometimes it offers fertilizer or green manure, other times it offers something profitable (hay). Last year, we planted Rape (canola) and turnips. This year, we were going to plant clover in some spots. I Opted for Crimson clover by my hive location. I know it's a bit more expensive, but from my research, the bees can utilize it better than regular red clover. I plan on planting clover right up to the hive in one location. This will provide approximately 1/2-1/3ac of crimson clover directly in front of my hive. My question is, how likely are MY bees to utilize this plot directly in front of them? There will be cover crops in other locations, but I will probably use cheaper options for them. From my studies, the bees will exit the hive, and fly up and out before looking for food.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    Tour answer is at turning a neglected pasture into a bee yard. Do a search on beesource. I think the 4th post will answer your question. Not sure how to pass the link to you on here. The post was by (A Novice) is the posters screen name here. Hope this helps. Rich

  4. #3

    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I read the thread, and what I gather is about 1/2mi. My clover will be within inches of the hive and out a couple hundred yards. There will be other cover crops in the area, a bit further away. Oh well, it will look nice for a while and I'm sure someone else's bees will get more use of it. I like Winter Rye for building soils, as well as buckwheat for cover crops. I know the buckwheat the bees really like too. Typically, our cover crops are whatever we have left over from the year.

  5. #4
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    They will work clover inches from a hive. Maybe they flew a mile to get there, maybe a foot, that I do not know. The bees are thicker closer to the hives than farther away when the clover is thick.

    Google from outside beesource works better than the internal search.
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    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  6. #5
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    Mar 2015
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    St Louis, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    They will work clover inches from a hive. Maybe they flew a mile to get there, maybe a foot, that I do not know. The bees are thicker closer to the hives than farther away when the clover is thick.
    I see the same. Yesterday while doing inspections I saw bees working goldenrod just 10 feet from the hives--I'm assuming they were my bees, but don't have them tagged to confirm. My experience in planting clover and other nectar plants in my bee yard is that they are foraged more when nectar sources are scarce than when there's a good flow on.

    As an aside, I grow multiple varieties of clover every year. The white dutch and the yellow sweet clover get the most action, the crimson clover sees a few bees, and I hardly see any honey bees on red clover. I still plant them all because I like feeding a mix of native pollinators in addition to my own bees.

    One other cover crop to consider in the future is buckwheat. I've read that when farmers used to widely plant buckwheat a hundred years ago, you could set a thousand hives in a single location and fill them all with surplus honey. So I actually planted buckwheat for a couple years, but stopped because I didn't have much success getting it to grow en masse.

  7. #6
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I plant for the bees everywhere. Right next to the hive, out to as far as I can.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Mar 2018
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    Australia
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I have always heard that bees won't forage close to the hive, but from my observations this isn't correct. I would love for someone to publish some research on this as I can only comment on why happens with my bees.

    I try to have plenty of cover crops close to the hives and they are always well utilised by honey bees. If these are not my bees it is still lowering competition for local resources which benefits my bees.

    I have watched bees working flowers within feet of a hive fly back to the hive. This shows that at least some will forage close to the hive. I don't know how many bees forage close to the hive, but I have observed this in times of strong flow as well as dearth. I can't say if they originally flew from the hive to these close flowers, or if they went somewhere else first and only visit these close flowers on their way home. All I know is that they fly into my hive from these flowers that are within feet of the hive.

  9. #8
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    Aug 2002
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I have often seen them fly past one thing that is blooming to go to another thing which I think is the origin of the idea that they won't forage right next to the hive. I've also seen them foraging next to the hive... or not...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
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    Vauxhall, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    @pintail..., I do this too, wherever, close, faraway and in between and I can only repeat what has been mentioned before, bees to what they feel is right. Also, time of the day makes abig difference, looking at 11.00am and no bees around, 4.00 pm and it is covered. MHO, do what suits you and hope the bees collaborate.

    One thought to the types, I have been seeding mono cultures of phacelia, buckwheat, borage in the past, one 30' strip, six weeks apart, three times and I will change in 2020 to a mix of 20% phacelia, 40% buckwheat and 40% borage by weight and will seed about 30lbs/acre after May 15th (last day of frost in our area) once. The leftovers get combined in October, after the frost killed it all. this way I get some of the volunteer seed of my normally farmed land and shopped the residue.
    Summ Summ Bienchen summ herum

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Wise county,Texas
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    287

    Default Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I read a journal last summer on this, don't recall where tho, Micheal may know? Any way, they said bees don't forage en masse within so many yards of a hive, as they don't have a "dance" for such close proximity. I see bees visiting plants all around as close as 2-3' from my hives, but not like they hit my fruit trees, or garden which is about 100' away.

    I have put out open fed ultra bee and start getting good action at around 30', loads of bees anywhere past that. Have also put it on top of a hive and would get some action, but again, more so at some yardage. I find this odd since at the right time of year, you can be over run by neighboring hives when you open one for inspection. May have more to do with what and how much forage is close.
    “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic”

  12. #11
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    Oct 2016
    Location
    Albany NY
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    Default

    Hi all, I believe a bee will forage for what she was recruited for unless that source is gone. She only forages one species per flight. Correct me If I'm wrong.... but this may explain why some bees fly past some flowers and land on farther ones.
    Also, bees overrunning and robbing a neighboring hive that is open too long: the scent of dripping honey is stronger than most flowers and may explain why robbing happens so quickly and nearby flowers are so often ignored....
    Fwiw, a fellow beekeeper had some of his spring honey tested for pollen. Results were monofloral honey from (i can't remember which) plant that did not grow around him. After a few years of looking he eventually found a bunch about 2 miles away from his hives. I did not do any more research on this but took it to mean that if the nectar source is really desirable the bees will ignore a lot on the way and go to great lengths to get it 😉
    Happy beekeeping everybody.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
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    183

    Thumbs Up Re: Cover Crops and how close to hive???

    I think bees will forage up close, it just depends on what and how much is available. I believe they get what they are told to do and the best first. I had a hive sitting in Oxalis and they worked it; I moved the hive into my bee yard 100 yards away and in a couple of days no bees were working the oxalis.

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