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I've just finished reading article about planting trees for bees in the March issue of BEE CULTURE. Wondering what your favorite tree or plant would be for ZONE 5 or 6. I live in the Louisville KY area and when asking about ZONE 5 I'm considering the cold there and am hedging a little bit for ZONE 6 where I'm located. Thanks for all your responses. Pembroke
 

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I've been planting tulip poplars. Asking around here, I know others who have also, yet they never seem to get any blooms... Not sure why, but they make a nice shade tree. They grow fast and they are pretty. I keep hoping they will bloom. I have a lot of black locust around. It blooms and helps the spring build up a lot. It's too early to get much of a honey crop off of it. Basswood does well around here and it produces a lot of honey. Of course pussywillow and red maple help the spring buildup a lot as they are very early. Sand plums and chokecherries are the first fruit trees to bloom around here. They are two weeks before the apples and pears. Any fruit trees are good.
 

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In the process of planting black locust, basswood (Linden), and Tulip Poplars myself at my future farm in Bedford, PA. Not sure the Tulip poplars will do well but worth a shot--I always thought of them as a more southern tree. 50 tulip poplar seedlings for $40 at the arbor day website. Also getting a bunch of flowering cherries from them @ $9 each for spring show. Not sure if they are a good nectar source as I thought fruit trees bred for flowering did not produce as much nectar (could be wrong).

I get all my other trees from Coldstream farm in MI--good prices in bulk (like $1.00 per tree or less depending on size and quantity). Have sugar maples that are a few years old from them and they did pretty well.

Can red maple serve as a nectar source or just pollen?
 

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I was about to pose this question myself, but decided to do a search. I am looking for zone 4.
I am thinking basswood, black locust and pussy willow from Cold Stream Farm. I tried Tulip Poplars a few years ago, but none survived. I am also thinking about a wild flower mix formulated for honey bees. I have about 3/4 acre to work with and I already have 1 acre of lawn and don't want to mow any more then that, so I thought that I would make it useful to the girls.

Anymore dos and don'ts...
 

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Black locust produce a very mild, almost white honey. They can begin to flower at a young age. They can tend to be invasive and some places classify them as a noxious weed. They will do well in poor soils/sites.

Basswood/linden typically flowers at the same time as sweetclover. Honey made from often has a minty flavor. Once mature the trees can be very large and produce lots of nectar.

Korean evodia/Bee bee trees might be another one to look into. They flower in late summer and can provide pollen and nectar when many places are in a dearth.

Silver maple is one of the earliest flowering trees and can be a good first pollen source. The down side can be poor structure of mature trees that can lead to shedding of large limbs. And, the 'spinners' produced can clog gutters.

Trees are nice nectar sources since once they are mature that often last for decades.

Tom
 

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I live in a heavily wooded area in east Alabama, not a lot of farming here but plenty of pines with mixed hardwoods in the creek bottoms. Poplars are really common and I always suspect that that is the source of a lot my honey. Currently, my bees are busy bringing in yellow, orange and white pollen. The honey that I extract in July is always nearly as dark as syrup and has a rich flavor that isn't as sweet as clover or sourwood honeys.
 

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I have more success when planting tulip poplars when I put a few handfuls of the miracle grow moisture control into the hole with the sapling. Tulip poplars seem to be very drought sensitive. The first time I planted them I babied them and watered them on a regular basis and none of them survived. The 2nd time I planted them was during a drought year and I used the moisture control and also watered them from time to time (not as often as the first time) and most of them have survived. could be a coincidence or the moisture control could be on to something. Maybe too much work for mass plantings, but I did it with 25 saplings. :)
 

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On someone's advice, when planting my tulip poplars I filled the hole with shredded bark and top soil (both available from the hardware store or other places) mixed with equal parts of the soil I dug out. The hard clay soil we have seems to inhibit trees getting a good start. I soaked them periodically (like once a week) all through the growing season. They did well. When I was out of the country they did not get watered at all, but they still survived (they were well established by then). I had some fairly old trees die in that drought when they didn't get watered...
 

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Around here, Tulip Poplars (grow rapidly) produce most of the honey unless the blooms get frozen out. Also good are Maples (early pollen), all fruit trees (early), Redbud (early), Holly, Persimmon (later) and Sourwood (later). I bought several Korean Evodia from OD Frank on Beesource to bloom after my flow ends in the early summer, but they are not mature enough yet to bloom.
 

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+1 on basswood

Tulip poplar is a great nectar source, but you won't see blossoms for about 10 years. They are also a bit fragile when heavy rains and winds kick in. Probably more of an issue with us on the coast.
 

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Tulip poplar is an important nectar tree in our area. However, poplars declined terribly in the last drought and became infested with an aphid or scale-type insect. The resulting sticky insect-poo literally came down like rain (instead of rain?), drenching decks and cars and streets for months. Local newspaper discussed a poor long-term outlook for poplar due in our area due to climate change and the insect infestation.

Dr. Tammy Horn discusses reforestation of KY in nectar trees, especially the sourwood, in this article (http://www.ediblecommunities.com/louisville/january-february-2012/bee-queen.htm).
 

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Agree w ginkgo. Our woods was 80% poplar. The drought 2 y ago in southern Ohio coincided w an absolute epidemic of poplar scale. The honeydew fell like rain. The trees lost all leaves by the end of July. Our woods was decimated. We lost 60% of the trees and the ones that made it have lots of dead in them. The good news was that the scales seem to have killed themselves off. Haven't seen them since. But no poplar blooms either. Oh well, maybe this year the survivors will bloom. Got a lumber guy coming to make me lots of boards!
 

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I live in a heavily wooded area in east Alabama, not a lot of farming here but plenty of pines with mixed hardwoods in the creek bottoms. Poplars are really common and I always suspect that that is the source of a lot my honey. Currently, my bees are busy bringing in yellow, orange and white pollen. The honey that I extract in July is always nearly as dark as syrup and has a rich flavor that isn't as sweet as clover or sourwood honeys.
that would be tulip poplar honey. i live in phenix city are you north or south of me? the other main source in wooded areas is privet hedge and it's extremely light and some people say it's bitter but i only taste sweet. you may get sumac, it will be a little lighter than the poplar honey but dark and has a buttery/nutty flavor. all of these should grow in several different zones.
 

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The trees the bees hit around here for blooms are the Eastern Red Bud, Wild Plum, other Fruits, Boxelder then other Maples, Locust (either Honey or Black) then other hardwoods. Ash seems to be an important early pollen tree for spring build up. The Boxelder trees are full of bees as they bloom early and grow like weeds around here.
 

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Another useful source of "nectar" for honey bees is apparently the honeydew from aphids attacking trees. I know, I know, it doesn't bear thinking about what that "honeydew" actually is, but bees will gather it and store it as honey.

Raises a question for me though: lots of homeowners will spray the dickens out their trees when there's a significant-enough aphid presence to have created noticeable honeydew. They'll use both contact sprays and systemics (neonics from the local big box stores!) Often this will be at a tme when the bees wouldn't ordinarily be foraging on the trees because of lack of bloom. Yet this could be a vector for significant pesticide exposure to honey bees foraging on the honeydew. Most pesticide labels warn against spraying when the plant is in bloom, but none I've read touch on the issue of the presence of actively-foraged honeydew. Yet, that's precisely when people will be most intent on killing apids - when the sticky bug-poop is dripping down on their cars.

Enj.
 

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Set up a new bee yard yesterday and an hour later the bees were bringing in pollen by the bucket load. I have no idea what kind of tree/bush these are but I could hear the bees 50 feet away. They look like some kind of Juniper and are completely budded out. The photobucket img link is showing a bit large :(

 
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