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I have a spot that is approximately 1/4 acre that I could dedicate solely to nectar/pollinating plants. After researching much on the internet, I am just as confused now as when I started. I know white clover is good, along with lavender. What are your suggestions for planting this spot to have a spring to fall resource for my bees? I am in Kentucky, and my growing zone is 6-7. Thanks
 

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The odds are, that unless you are prepared to continuously manage this plot, that a simple "wildflower" mix is your best option. Few (individual) plants continuously provide bee nectar/pollen over a multi-month period, and even then they may not like your growing conditions. So just plant a mix and relax. :)
 

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Thanks. Is there any particular mix I should look for? I notice there are several offered with different price ranges.
 

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I have spent hundreds of dollars on seeds for bees and in my opinion, it is throwing your money down the drain. Plant a dozen bee trees and sit back and relax for the next 20 years. No replanting, no watering after a couple of years, no plowing, no fertilizer, need I say more? You will get much more from trees than you will on a small plot of mixed flowers. If you plant three or four varieties, you will get a nice succession through the year.
 

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Thanks. Is there any particular mix I should look for? I notice there are several offered with different price ranges.
I don't think it matters a whole bunch. Note that where I am, if I don't mow once or twice a year. I get trees:eek: growing. For sure, mow before the trees, get un-mowable.
:ws:
 

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Consider planting some bushes or trees that bloom during the dearth in your area. That will help bees and other pollinators more than adding plants that bloom when everything else is blooming.
 

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The tulip poplar tree is the main source of nectar where I am located. It is fast growing and probably blooms in 5 -6 years. Nice straight trunk and the canopy does not branch out too far so could space at 30' or so. Mature trees produce massive amounts of nectar. You could still plant bushes and summer wildflowers under the trees.
 

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I totally agree with JWPalmer about the tulip poplar tree. I planted one about 3-4 years ago and it's doing better than any other trees I've planted. Seems to be very disease and pest resistant, and it's growing pretty fast. Plus, I've seen mature tulip poplars with thousands of bees on them, and there's one along a local hiking trail that looks like a redwood it's so big. This spring I planted 10 more tulip poplars on my land--that's how much I like them. I also like the American Basswood (Linden) tree for bees because it has a massive amount of flowers when it blooms; but I'm finding it a bit harder to grow because the Japanese beetles like them too.

Just for fun, I outlined 1/4 acre plot here on my property and played around with it. This is what I came up with in about 10 minutes. You could do something similar (I used Google Earth)--just make sure the plants are well-suited to your site.

Quarter_Acre_Bee_Plantings.jpg

With this scheme, I've put trees on the north end so they don't throw shade on everything else as they get bigger. I tried to put the lowest-growing plants on the south side, progressively moving to taller plants as you go north.

And the bloom times look something like this:

March-April: Hopefully you've got various maples, dandelions, redbuds, etc. growing wild in your area.
Early May: Blackberry
Early May: Tulip Poplar
Early May: White and Crimson Clovers
Late May: Yellow Sweet Clover
Late May: American Basswood
Late May: Ninebark
Mid June: Borage
Mid June: Cosmos
Late June: Milkweed
Early August: Goldenrod
Early September: White Snakeroot
Mid September: Aster

Easier said than done planting all of these (also expensive), but this should provide some kind of food throughout the forage season. Of course, 1/4 doesn't really make much impact (except for the trees once they mature), but it doesn't hurt. It's also enjoyable and keeps some of the bees nearby so you can watch them work.
 

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Raspberries or something you like as well. Fruiting trees are great.
 

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My bees love the Hansen Cherry Bushes. Check for them in garden catalogs that also have trees and bushes. They're easy to grow and bloom early.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I think I will sow the plot in white clover first, and then plant some trees. Clover around here grows great, so I thought that would help as well.
 

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Wow! Thank you. Great outline. I will give that some consideration. I almost thought about just making a small fruit orchard out of it. With some apple, plum, and peach trees. Then put some bushes of some sort around the border.
 

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I like the tree and shrub ideas, but I can't believe no one brought up Vetch and buckwheat.

I would bet Joe-pye weed already does well there.
 

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dudelt,
That is an option as well. What kind and how many would you plant in a 1/4 acre?
Since I am far, far away from Kentucky, I am not the best person to answer that question. On my 1/2 acre of pasture outside of Seattle, I have planted black locust (considered invasive in many areas), 3 types of lindens (basswood, silver and little leaf for a succession), and sourwood. Sourwood is touchy and grows really slowly and I don't recommend it for my area. As far as spacing goes, a quarter acre is just under 11,000 square feet so with tight spacing of 400 square feet per tree (20x20) you could fit about 30 in the area and would thin them out in 5 or 10 years. I am fond of the black locust because they are dirt cheap to buy and grow VERY fast. I got mine from Raintree Nursery here in WA for $2.50 a piece 5 years ago (they are $3.00 each today). They were about 2.5 feet tall when I planted them and are now about 15-20 feet tall. They bloomed in year 3. Other folks from your area will have other ideas of what to plant and I would take their advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks, all of those grow here as well. I was kinda thinking about just turning it into a small orchard of apple, peach, plum and cherry trees. From what I've read, the bees like them too. Also read that white clover makes a good cover in orchards.
 

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We have planted Korean Evodia because it blooms in July/August. While waiting for them to mature we hae planted Buckwheat because it starts blooming in about 3 weeks. It is easily established, but is not frost tolerant. We have also planted some Hubam, Yellow Sweet clover and Lacy Phacelia this year. The lacy Phacelia was easily established and will not bloom until it gets 12 or 13 hours of sunlight. It is already about 6 inches tall. It is supposed to be frost tolerant with winter kill at about twenty degrees. It will need to be over the next few nights. It is supposed to be a super nectar and pollen plant. If it grows well here I may plant a lot more next year.

Good luck,
Alex
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Don't know about plums, but apple, peach, and cherry are all early short bloomers and not a significant source of nectar here. Plant an orchard if you want the fruit, not for the bees. Black locust or poplars with a ground cover of the yellow sweet clover would be a better choice.
 
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