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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Happy soon-to-be Spring! :)

I'm trying to set up a new apiary, and my best spot is within view of our small road. We don't get tons of traffic but enough that I would like to screen the area from the road and neighbors. We have some field beside the house with plenty of room to enclose a 30' by 30' or so area in shrubs to create a somewhat private apiary area. A bit dry and full sun much of the day. Starting with 3 hives this year, so this should give me plenty of space.

I spoke to a local nursery and they suggested some plants such as lilac, butterfly bush, and holly. I'll probably use those but would like some additional variety. I have some suggestions like albelia and clethra but on further research seem to top out at around 3 to 4 feet. Am hoping to have 5 to 6 ft eventually to force the bees into a higher flight path.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

Erik
 

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Hey Erik,

Hollies, which you mentioned, would probably be my number one choice. Other plants provide nectar later in our season. But the hollies are evergreen and would provide screening year round.

Before we had bees we planted a row of hawthorns. Wish we had done hollies.

Shane


Shane
 

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Privet, grows fairly thick and dense, smells Great, and the bees love it, I have a row they has as many bees on it as flowers when in bloom in early spring.
 

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Privet, grows fairly thick and dense, smells Great, and the bees love it, I have a row they has as many bees on it as flowers when in bloom in early spring.
We have a small section of Privet at work. The bees work it very hard. I would choose privet if I wanted a more formal hedge. Some hollies, especially the American holly, can get quite large.

Shane
 

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Hollies work well but like Shane said select the right variety. When the hollies are in bloom they hum with bees. Privet is also a good hedge and like Hollies will hum when in bloom.
 

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We've got a butterfly bush. Bees and butterflies like it but my Master Gardener wife now regrets planting it because it is considered invasive, although not uncontrollably so. But it is no hedge bush. We had a heckuva time getting ours to root properly, and had to keep supports on it for about 5 years, but it otherwise thrived and has had to be cut back annually. In terms of shape, they're kind of like forsythia.

Our lilacs are too open for what you want, more like small trees than good screens.

Another dreaded invasive, but adored by bees, is autumn olive. This one will get out of control. Ugly as sin in the winter, but can make quite a thicket in summer.
 

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Rose of Sharon is a great pollen producer with long lived blooms. The Honeybees and Bumbles leave ours covered. I don't see ours on the privet as much, but only have a couple, and acres of white clover. Everything is source driven for the bees. G
 

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I think I recall a comment about privet honey not tasting good but don't trust my memory. Worth checking though.
 

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For Virginia, you really want to be looking at bushes that provide forage in the summer dirth. I discovered by accident that bees dearly love Chindo Viburnum. They bloom in June and the pollinators were all over them. Also Russian olive. They bloom in the fall and are a good nectar source for the bees. both are evergreen, at least in my area.
 

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A second suggestion of Viburnum - pollinator friendly, dense screen, many are fast growing, some evergreen. Look for varieties resistant to Viburnum beetle. The folks below have an astonishing variety and will consult with you on your needs. If you also want berries for birds, getting the right mix of plants is important.

http://www.classicviburnums.com/

Russian olive and autumn olive are problematic in some areas, escaping yards and displacing native diversity.
 

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Just going over a bee forage poster, evidently boxwood produces both plenty of pollen and moderate nectar. I would not have guessed.

Boxwood is non-native, but has been in Virginia about as long as the English, who don't think they have a real garden unless it has boxwood hedges. If you want the English Formal Garden look, there's your hedge plant. You can shape it any way you like, in time, from a knee-high border, to a tall wall, or topiary if you are obsessed with sculpting bushes.

I think they sell it at Mount Vernon, which is close to you. You could have hedges of the descendants of boxwoods planted by George Washington!
 

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Butterfly bush is invasive, but a great necter source and some grow very tall. Choose a sterile variety to prevent seeds from spreading all over. I have a row of them and can't remember the name for the life of me! But I did go with sterile to avoid introducing something non-native.

Holly and private are good options. Honey bees won't utilize the lilacs but butterflies and larger bumble bees will. Smells amazing, hardy. not native but naturalized.

I'm trying spirea this year. Douglas is native to my area. Smells nice, very hardy, grows fast, and good lord do the bees LOVE it! Might be worth learning some varities for your area.

What about small trees you can allow to grow dense? Flowering dogwoods and smaller, flowering crabapples come to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you for all the wonderful replies, very much appreciated.

Holly and Viburnum seem like good suggestions, will probably use some of these. I worry that the Viburnum awabuki 'Chindo' might not do well in northern Virginia, as we are on the edge of zone 7. That and it seems rather huge. The Blue Princess Holly and Burkwoodii Viburnum seem like good choices for my area, and not too big.

Boxwood is a good suggestion, but I've never been a boxwood fan. Don't ask me why, something about the smell. The Virginia Extension Service also says it is susceptible to root rot in Virginia.

Common Privit is a bit invasive, and a couple sites indicated it has a distinctive smell. So will probably avoid this based on my non-love of boxwood.

Rose of Sharon - not had the best luck with Rose of Sharon in our yard. Maybe it is just how I take care of it, not sure, but my favorite plant.

Russian Olive and related trees appear to be rather invasive, so will probably avoid these as well.

Butterfly bushes, I didn't realize you could buy sterile varieties, will have to look into this option. Thanks.

Lilac, I just assumed the bees would like it, thanks for the insight. We have a bush in front of the house and thinking about it I don't recall seeing a lot of bees on the flowers. Who knew!


Does anyone have any experience with Joe Pye Weed? It is said to grow well in our area, blooms late, and would provide screening during the spring and summer.

Thanks again for the help!

Erik
 

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I found my wife studying a couple of her bee plant and gardening books tonight, and she's working on the same idea. She rattled off some plant names for windbreaks that sounded like good bets, but I need to get her to write them down or I'll never remember them. We are in your bee club, and have probably met either at meetings or bee school. The wife is a Master Gardener so she's all over the invasive species thing, and is looking either for natives or at least benign naturalized plants to do the job. Anything she picks will target Northern Virginia.

For the record, she doesn't like boxwoods either.
 

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Russian Olive and related trees appear to be rather invasive, so will probably avoid these as well.

Does anyone have any experience with Joe Pye Weed? It is said to grow well in our area, blooms late, and would provide screening during the spring and summer.
Joe Pye weed grows near water. You mentioned the area you have is somewhat dry. Might not be the best choice, but I am not certain.

Like others have mentioned, it would be nice to have something that bloomed in our dearth. Which for us is late July and September. One smaller tree you could consider that blooms in that time frame is Korean Evodia, commonly called Bee Bee Tree.

Shane
 

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Privet, grows fairly thick and dense, smells Great, and the bees love it, I have a row they has as many bees on it as flowers when in bloom in early spring.
You better like it a lot because you will never get rid of it. It is a member of the same family as legustrum.
 

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I have a large Photinia aka 'red robin' in the yard which will be the northern backdrop for my hives. It is evergreen, decorative, and pollinators seem to like it - usually blooms mid-May around here. Although it is not native, it doesn't seem invasive at all. We've been here 8 years, and I've never seen any seedlings or root suckers from this shrub.

An interesting native you might look at is the white fringetree, Chionanthus_virginicus.
 

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A second suggestion of Viburnum - pollinator friendly, dense screen, many are fast growing, some evergreen. Look for varieties resistant to Viburnum beetle. The folks below have an astonishing variety and will consult with you on your needs. If you also want berries for birds, getting the right mix of plants is important.

http://www.classicviburnums.com/

Russian olive and autumn olive are problematic in some areas, escaping yards and displacing native diversity.

The Chindo Viburnum is beautiful year round. It takes a couple of years to bloom though so try to buy older plants.
 

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I finally got the MG to give up the list she's been working on. She's targeting our apiary in NE West Virginia, but her MG experience is in Northern Virginia. P is pollen, N is nectar.

The last entry, shiny sumac, is really interesting because it blooms in August, right when the bees need it for fall stores.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhus_copallina

Windbreak Shrubs

Here are some shrub/windbreak options I looked at for us. Before considering, each person should research to see if it would grow in their particular environment/location (e.g., prefers rich or poor soil, dry or wet, etc.)

· Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri) (non-native, China origin) – P & N (blooms May) – 3-6 ft hi evergreen shrub

· Winter Jasmine (Jasminium nudiflorum) (non-native, China origin) – P & N (blooms in Feb., forsythia-like, fragrant) – 4-6 ft hi, 10-12 ft wide deciduous spreading, climbing shrub, arching branches, support on walls

· Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookeriana) (non-native, Himalayan origin) - P & N (blooms in Feb.) – 2-3 ft hi deciduous, spreads

· Acacia (Acacia longifolia) (non-native, Austral. origin) – P & N (blooms in March) – 10-25 ft hi evergreen

· Camellia (Camellia japonica) (non-native, Asia origin) - P & N (blooms in March) – 3-9 ft evergreen shrub – need winter hardy vars. In this area

· Barberry (Berberis lologensis) (non-native, Chile origin) - P & N (blooms April) – 3-8 ft evergreen – can harbor ticks

· Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) (non-native, Japan, Europ. origin) – P & N (blooms April) – 4-10 ft dense evergreen, aromatic

· Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (non-native, Europ., Asia origin) – P & N (blooms May) – 3-10 ft evergreen

· Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) (non-native, China origin)- P & N (blooms May) – 8-10 ft deciduous, arching branches

· Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) (non-native, Europ. origin) – P & N (blooms May) – 8-10 ft dense evergreen

· Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) – P & N (blooms June) (non-native, Europ. origin)– 8-10 ft evergreen

· Butterfly bush (Buddleia alternifolia) (non-native, invasive) – P & N (blooms June) – 8-10 ft deciduous bush, arching branches

· False spirea (Sobaria sorbifolia) (non-native, Asia origin) – P & N (blooms June) – 6-7 ft deciduous shrub

· Inkberry (Ilex glabra) (native, E. US) – P & N (blooms July) – 6-10 ft perennial

· Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) (native) – P & N (blooms July) – 2-7 ft deciduous shrub, white berries in fall)

· Shiny sumac (Rhus copallina) (native) – P & N (blooms Aug.) – 10-20 ft deciduous shrub – high bee density
 
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