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Hi all,

I was wondering if there was any particular flower or plant to plant to help increase the honey output of bees.

I read somwhere that rapeseed would. anybody have any expirence with that?

Anything else? I have no idea where to get rapeseed...
 

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Rapeseed is what canola oil is made from. Don't know if it's grown down your way, but it's big in Manitoba. Kinda looks like wild mustard (yellow blossoms). Best bet would be to call a local farm/seed supplier.

That said, what I learned when I took a beek seminar taught by Virginia Tech professors, it kind of depends on if you're in the country or city/suburb. It takes a LOT of forage to make honey. You're actually at a slight advantage in a city or suburb because people tend to plant stuff to flower all season rather than just natural honey blooms.

Call your local extension service and see if they have a list of what blooms when in your specific area. Hit up any & all ag colleges in your vicinity, too. You've already paid for them.
 

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If you have room to plant fruit trees, they're great. I was also told by a guy at Brushy Mountain Bee Farm not to spray poison oak/ivy until later in the season because it is a nice source. Aster is great, Azalea's and anything that is suggested for butterflies or hummingbirds. Do a search on hummingbird gardens.
 

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If I had a large area to plant and commit to bee forage, I'd plant partridge pea. It is a legume which is a good soil builder and reseeds itself easily. Plus it blooms for a long time up here in Zone 7. I'd do that for 3-5 years then till it under to make way for a pastured mix for livestock and move the partridge pea over to a new location.

If however you are only talking a small area to permanently devote to forage, again the partridge pea can't be beat. The suggestion to call your ag extension is the best advice because they should know what will grow in your area. I think the most important thing to consider is when and how long anything you plant will bloom. For my area, the partridge pea creates a source of nectar when there is little else to find.
 

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Yellow sweet clover. Grows rapidly (though it's simi-annual but if you seed two years straight you get a continuous yield). Reseeds itself like crazy. Will grow in just about any type of soil. Is considered a "green" fertilizer because it fixes nitrogen in the soil and makes it better and the most important reason....bees make a great tasting light honey off of it. Great honey plant. Will bloom from early to mid summer to fall. I pick it up by the 50 lb bag at the local COOP. Fairly cheap as seed goes too.
 

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Yellow sweet clover. Grows rapidly (though it's simi-annual but if you seed two years straight you get a continuous yield). Reseeds itself like crazy.

It's bi-annual but you do not have to seed it two years in a row. The first time it blooms (which will be the second year of its life cycle) will drop seeds which will germinate at different times because the seed is covered with a thick membrane which keeps the seed viable for longer periods. Therefore, after the first year of little to no blooms or seeds, the second year you will get blooms and seeds yearly.
Overseeding of any bi-annual plant is the number one cause of choke out induced death of the plant.
 

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I have found that bees are very attracted to a plant called Agastache or also known as giant hyssop. It reseeds itself here in Pa but sometimes the mother plant survives the winter. It is a licorice scented leaf and in the mint family. Pretty purple spike flowers. Also they love the herb called borage. It has a blue bell type flower and again an annual that reseeds itself each year. These bloom in midsummer but last into early fall sometimes.:)
 

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Yellow sweet clover. Grows rapidly (though it's simi-annual but if you seed two years straight you get a continuous yield). Reseeds itself like crazy.

It's bi-annual but you do not have to seed it two years in a row. The first time it blooms (which will be the second year of its life cycle) will drop seeds which will germinate at different times because the seed is covered with a thick membrane which keeps the seed viable for longer periods. Therefore, after the first year of little to no blooms or seeds, the second year you will get blooms and seeds yearly.
Overseeding of any bi-annual plant is the number one cause of choke out induced death of the plant.
Sorry...it is early, you are right, bi-annual. I haven't had any problem with it choking itself out on my 50 acres but sounds like sgw knows what he is talking about so follow his advice...I just throw the stuff out and it grows into huge fields of clover.
 

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I did a little reading on Buck wheat and it sounds like it could be a good plant to plant. But, it would need to be like an acre or so to make it worth wild. I've read it grows good in poor soil and does not need much water. The seed is cheap, flowers fast and it said Buckwheat could produce 150lbs of honey per acre. If you have a little room it might be something to look into. I have some planted now in a food plot and if the deer leave it alone long enough I will report back how it did.
 

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http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfaqs.htm#planting

Beekeepers always seems to want to know what to plant for their bees. Just make sure you understand that your bees will not just work the flowers on your land. They will be foraging a 2 mile radius which is 8,000 acres. It's difficult, unless you own that 8,000 acres, to plant enough to make a crop. But it's not hard to plant things that will fill out the year for the bees. The times of need in the hives is early (February to April), late (September to the killing frost) and during drought (which is usually mid summer around here and requires plants that will bloom when there is little rain). So I would focus on plants to fill those gaps. A variety of honey plants in general will tend to fill more gaps than focusing on only one or two plants. It certainly doesn't hurt to plant some sweet clover (both yellow and white as they bloom at different times) and some white Dutch clover and some birdsfoot trefoil and some borage and some anise hyssop and some tulip poplars and some black locust, but these don't tend to fill those early and late gaps, but do tend to make some honey and MAY fill a gap. Early plants that provide pollen are red maples, pussy willows, elms, crocuses, redbud, wild plums, choke cherries and other fruit trees. Dandelions are always good to have around. You can pick the dried heads from people whose lawns are full of them. Just pluck them and put them in a grocery sack and take them home and scatter them. Chicory and goldenrod often bloom in a drought and will bloom usually from about July until a killing frost. Asters are a good late blooming plant. The main thing to keep in mind, though, is that you're just trying to fill the gaps, not trying to create a crop.
 

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im with Michael Bush 101%

you have to own a lot of land to tell your bees what to bring home

the trick is to learn what major flows you have in your area and then feed sugar syrup when there is nothing in bloom --

call me lazy but...... tilling land, weeding, planting seeds, protecting the seeds from birds, saving the sprouts from slugs, watering the crop during the summer........ seems harsh compared to a batch of 200 gallons of syrup that i can mix up at 2am if i cant sleep (probably cuz im worried about you guys up late pulling weeds)!!!!!!

but really it takes a lot of flowers to fill there needs -

best bet is to buy a few packs of seeds for your flower beds and enjoy watching a few hundered bees at work



also if you have an empty field of say 200 acers ..... there are more flowers growing in it having been left unplowed then you can plant to make up for it

if anything plant something that is profitable from a crop .....

thats my 2 cents
 

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I am of the opinion that every little bit helps. If you plant things conducive to the bees...you are making a contribution to the environment. It is understood that you would need a significant amount of a particular planting to make a big difference. But, again, as I said, I believe every little bit helps. BTW...My wife enjoys growing herbs...and the bees love Lavender. We enjoy watching them...it just makes us feel better.
 

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I like buckwheat and have planted it for several years now usually 1 or 2 acres but planted at different times so I have some in bloom all summer. You can disk it back in when the seed mature and get 2 or 3 crops in a year. I harvest seed from mine so check the for sale section or PM me if interested.
Mike
 

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Generally you can't plant enough of anything to entice the bees to any great effect, unless you have hundreds of acres to devote to it. if you're referring to planting in your yard, plant those varieties that are pleasing to you and if any bees work your plants, you'll have the pleasure of watching them.
 

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I am of the opinion that every little bit helps.
I'm of that opinion as well. I don't have enough land to do any meaningful planting, but if I can't plant something pretty/useful that the bees also enjoy I can feel like I've contributed a little bit and I can get to check out the bees at work. I see a lot of bees and other insects on sedum in the fall. If you are a bad Gardner and let your herbs go to flower they seem to really like that too (I see them on the basil all the time) I doubt either of those makes any significant contribution but its better then nothing.
 

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Exactly! And if you're interested in attractive flowering plants, and you have bees for polination; the wise thing would be to plant those that are most alluring to the bees NOT so much that you'll be producing a gallon of honey off of it. However, you will be ensuring a BRILLIANT showing on your plants throughout the season and for seasons to come.
 

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I recently planted Borage which I understand the bees go crazy over. It is warm down here in GA now and it ook 10 days to sprout. No blooms yet but can't help it will happen. I also understand Borage will reseed itself. Got seeds from dong an on line search. 2nd yr beek long time gardener.
 

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I could use some planting advice too. There is a derelict farm next to my apiary and the owner is holding it just as an investment. I think he would be open to my over seeding the land with forage for the bees. But I have no equipment and would just be able to hand sow over the existing aged pasture, which has not been grazed for a year. Happily, it is filling nicely with weeds like thistle and hawkweed, but would clovers hand sown into the existing grasses manage to establish as well? What are my best, low tech options for bumping up the forage quotient on this land?
 
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