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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in South East PA Climate zone 6b/6a. A farmer here will plant 1 1/2 acres of sweet clover on his property.
I do not know the alkalinity or acidity of the soil but I know that corn, soybean,wheat and Alfalfa grows readily here.
We have lots of deer here. Is it worth the effort and cost to plant it? Also I wonder how many hives it could support?
Any thoughts or experienced knowledge is greatly appreciated thanks!
Drone1
 

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I rotationally graze 40+ acres with my beef critters. 70% is mixed clover, between my neighbor and I we have 10 hives. I'm looking at planting a couple acres of yellow. Its supposed to be phenomenal for bees and good graze for the beef, a win win. It can't hurt to have some in your neighborhood.
 

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Just so you know, That plant in my area is a scourge plant. We try to maintain natural plant growth and it will take over and dominate. I had to mow 128 acres two years ago and special burning the following two years to get rid of it. It chokes out a lot of the native plants. I have seen it take over fields. It will also spread as it gets established.
 

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I just bought 5 pounds of yellow clover seed and plan to plant it on an acre or two specifically for my bees. If it spreads after it's established, that's great. I have no idea how many bees or hives can be sustained with an acre of clover, but I'll know more next year.
 

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Tim, your neighbors may not like the outcome. Just saying. On this property we strive for natural plants not invasive.
 

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You ask how many hives 1.5 acres will support. First, such a question is impossible to answer--there are faaaar too many variables to account for. Second, I don't think any one nectar source -no matter how phenomenal- will "support" a hive. Bees need lots of different nectar sources throughout the year. If you have lots of other nectar sources blooming at the same time as yellow clover (mid-June to mid-July here in Ohio), you might be wasting your money as the bees might ignore the clover for something else. For example, I have both yellow clover and basswood near me that bloom at roughly the same times. My bees seem to favor the basswood over the clover; when the basswood dries up, they move onto the clover. But if you have a lack of other stuff blooming at that time, your clover plot might have a net positive effect.
 

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Good post awebber, I am fortunate to live in an area managed on the property I am on as well as the surrounding properties that thrive for natural setting. Not saying the bees won't benefit from the clover, they would. We battle invasive species of plants through out the year. Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive, Sweet Clover, multiflora rose, honey suckle, just to name a few. None of these are indigenous plants to the mid west but all are very real invasive species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for your responses. Up here invasive species is the norm its literally everywhere. Having said that some are beneficial to the bees and other pollinators. The place we are planting is a cultivated field. Where lawn grass has been previously grown. Its useless to the pollinators. Im look.
ing fwd to seeing what happens.
Thanks everyone
 

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>Just so you know, That plant in my area is a scourge plant. We try to maintain natural plant growth and it will take over and dominate.

That's what I love about it...

> Planting 1 1/2 acres of Yellow Sweet clover. Cost approx 150.00. Is it worth it?

It is a biennial. I would plant half one year and half the next so it blooms every year. If you let it go to seed every year it will pay dividends for decades to come. I would also buy half WHITE sweet clover and plant both. The yellow will bloom two weeks or more before the white and the white will last two weeks or more, longer than the yellow lengthening the flow by at least two more weeks.
 

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Yellow sweet clover is everywhere in the ditches, pasture fence rows…. When yellow clover is blooming there are many other things also blooming. Planting it might be just duplicating what’s already out there. (I do reseed it in my pasture and along gravel road...)

White sweet clove not as common at the yellow and it blooms later, often one of the last flowers before a dearth.

My alfalfa test patch show promise as it has a long blooming period, and it is still blooming in the dearth. One Planting for 5-6 years of blooms.

Buck wheat might be another choice as you can control when it blooms by when it is planted. I recently read that PM plants it 3 times a year lets it go to seed then tills it in for another cycle without reseeding. As long as you get rain it should work.

As different plant will do better different years might be a good idea to have a mix.
 

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Lot of sweet clover on the road sides in my area but not much in flying distance of my bees. I've planted some the last two years but didn't get a real good stand.

The bees do work it hard though. While it does only bloom in the second year if you plant it in sept it will bloom next year. If you frost sow it in Feb it won't bloom until the following year.

While the seed is expensive I've stopped along the highway a few times and hand harvested me a couple small bags of seed.

I hear about it being invasive but am not seeing that yet. It has to make more honey than Fescue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I just got off the phone with a seed producer in Commerce Texas.
(Actually 2) They both shared some info about Ball Clover. It flowers about 10 to one in comparison to Dutch or White clover. They have received very good feed back from beekeepers all over the nation.

Ball clover blooms over a period of 7 to 8 weeks and has a high density of bloom (840 blooms per yard)... Ball clover is an excellent honey plant, and bees show a strong preference for it over other true clovers.

— S. E. McGregor
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I like the idea of mixing the clover with other plants so that the blooms extend the nectar flow. That is definitely the way to go. Also Alfalfa does seem to have a very long bloom and nectar flow especially during the warm weather. Maybe this will be my combination?
You guys are great thanks so much for your help!
Drone1
 

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In the mountain West, Melilotus officinalis (Yellow Sweet Clover) chokes irrigation ditches, sandy drying streambanks, and other damp waste ground. It makes forage, but if baled damp or cut into silage, it can be toxic with bleeding due to coumarin. I've seen it planted, and grazed off in the spring, and plowed under as a green, high nitrogen manure.

The rancher I knew that baled it treated it like barley, and dried it to straw color. He reported when he baled it like alfalfa he killed some cows.
 

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My plan to plant yellow clover is more than just clover. I plan to intermix alfalfa and turnips into the already sparse white clover that grows there. I have a little yellow clover growing in the road ditch in front of my house. When I mow it off, it stays short and keeps blooming longer than if not mowed. I plan to mow alternating strips in my mix every 30 days of so to keep the clover and the alfalfa blooming longer. :D

I have 80 acres of alfalfa just across the road, but the guy cuts it just as it begins to bloom (best protein stage) for his milk cows. Occasionally, because of rain or bad weather he lets it gets into full bloom and the bees love it. :applause:
 
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