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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
we are downsizing our garden and I have a 30' X 30' section of tilled land that I thought would be a good place to plant some flowers for the bees. Any suggestion on the best type to plant? I live in central Illinois.

Thanks!
 

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Bees forage the 8,000 acres around the hive pretty thoroughly and if desperate the 32,000 acres around them. If you make any difference at all, it's probably in filling gaps in the pollen and nectar supply. Things that bloom early, late or in a drought are the most useful. 30' x 30' is statistically irrelevant.
 

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Tall yellow sweetclover even though it would be statistically insignificant would be a six foot tall wall of flowers bees love best. It will smell great and kill any neighbors with asthma but the bees will get a lot of use out of it. It also fixes nitrogen and would be good in a garden rotation.
 

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True, but if everybody puts in a couple dozen square feet of flowers specifically for bees, it would make a difference.

Personally I put in some Dragon's Blood Stonecrop (a type of sedum) that grows well in dry conditions/poor soil and is great for bees and butterflies.

You can actually get dual use out of that plot if you like, however. Many herbs like mints, sage, rosemary, thyme, catnip, etc are all things bees love that you can use for yourself as well.

Goldenrod is loved by bees (although it can make for some "acquired taste" honey) and has a ton of uses as well (certain breeds of goldenrod were used by the colonists for making tea that they actually exported, has lots of medicinal uses, etc).

So yeah, by itself your patch isn't going to make a difference, but if you can double up your use by having plants that make flowers the bees like that also have a use for you as well you'll be ahead of the game.
 

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>True, but if everybody puts in a couple dozen square feet of flowers specifically for bees, it would make a difference.

I'm always planting for bees. Hard not to when you are a beekeeper. But it's less dissapointing to be realistic on the impact.
 

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MB beat me to it, but I'll say it diferently: If you have a functional colony of 10 thousand bees, you can't plant enough on an acre to make any difference.
Walt
 

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I'm always planting for bees. Hard not to when you are a beekeeper. But it's less dissapointing to be realistic on the impact.
Well, I think we have to separate the assumption that they want to plant to sustain their bees from the stated desire to simply plant stuff for them. Give them an extra little treat or just to have something for them to watch the bees foraging on for their own entertainment purposes.

Thats what I do these days when I pick things like my stonecrop for ground cover in my raised beds. I used a kind of elfin thyme last year that didn't produce much in the way of flowers, so this year I pulled it out and replaced it with something the bees will like too. I'm under no delusions that it will make the slightest bit of difference in how strong my hives are, I just wanted to put a little something extra in for them.
 

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I understand the desire to help out. I plant dandelions all the time... and chicory and sweet clover and birsdfoot trefoil and white dutch clover and alfalfa and ladino clover and I just bought a bunch of Hubam clover... we'll see how that goes. But I'm just trying to set realistic expectations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the replies and suggested flowers. I do realize my small area will not make a significant difference...I believe I read somewhere that bees have to visit 2 million flowers to produce 1 pound of honey. I just thought it would be easier and more interesting to plant a bed of flowers rather than get the land leveled again and plant more grass that I'd just have to mow! :)

We have 2 acres and I haven't treated the lawn for the last 5 years...LOTS of dandelion and white clover...great for the bees...don't think the neighbors appreciate it :) ...and we all think twice before walking across the yard barefoot now.

I do like the idea of planting herbs that we can use as well...and the 6 foot tall clovers would be neat. Maybe I'll mix the clover with some sunflowers...

Thanks again all. The insight is always appreciated!
 

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Don't forget the Anise Hyssop or the hybrid Agastache Blue Fortune. Blooms late summer into fall. In our area it's covered with bees and flower over 2 or more months nonstop. It's about as attractive to bees as the sweet clover but fills in that gap in late summer. The species is easily grown from seed while the hybrid is done by cutting but roots readily. Being a tenacious perennial it can, once established, pretty much take care of itself.
 
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