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Hello bluegrassbeek,

I guess the tree suggestions are great and I don't know if you still consider an annual crop, but even under trees is still room to plant some annuals.

If one considers annuals one has to look back and forward since it is important what the land grew the past 4-6 years and what the plan is for the next 4-6 years.

I have one field with 60 acres, split in four 15 acre strips that I use to multiply peas and faba beans from breeder seed (some times 6 or 8 different varieties) every four years on the same spot. My rotation is peas, barley, canola, barley. Every year I dedicate 1 acre after peas for bee-feed and I have tried many different crops, Buckwheat, phacelia, borage, canola (rape seed) and more but have come to the conclusion to mix the buckwheat, phacelia & borage 5:1:3 (by weight) and seed it in late May in my area, probably March for you. I don't know how this would pen-out in your growing region, but you would need to grow a different type of crop in the next three-five years not to build-up diseases etc..

So the decision and planning is long-term, not just one year.

Cheers, JoergK.
 

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Plant an orchard if you want the fruit, not for the bees.
Exactly what I was gonna say! I also like the yellow sweet clover, which my bees appear to use more than any other kind of clover on a per-flower basis.

Black lucust is a good idea, because they do provide a massive amount of nectar if the weather is nice while they're in bloom. On the flip side, they are considered undesirable by many people, which is something to keep in mind if you think you'll ever sell your place. For me, because black locusts grow so much in the wild around here, I'd rather put my tree planting efforts into native nectar producing trees that I don't see as much anymore in the wild. So I like tulip poplars, basswoods, catalpas, black gum (tupelo), and persimmon trees...which don't seem as widely distributed around me.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Black locust, gum, tulip poplars, and persimmon trees are native around here. Actually have a few on my farm (have about 8 acres in woods). My main concern is to plant what is best for my bees. Seems like black locust and tulip popular is winning. Also thinking about the bee bee tree too. More of a decorative tree. Maybe plant a couple of each, and possibly clover, aster, goldenrod, etc.
 

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Trees will be taking many years to grow - quite an investment of time and initial expense and work.
As well the trees can not provide a rolling significant nectar flow across entire season on such a small lot.
As well on 1/4 acre you can not really have many productive trees when properly spaced - 2-3 lindens maybe; few locusts maybe.
They will be just competing against each other and the end result will be poor after many years of waiting.

Not worthwhile for 1/4 acre (a typical small suburban lot like I own).

Meanwhile you could be having something very attractive to the honey bees and actually pumping some real nectar next year and forward on.
Cheaply.
Per-annually.
With very low maintenance once planted.
Providing nectar/pollen through the entire season (not just 1-2 weeks out of the entire summer).
Seeds are available online.
All listed are per-annuals or self-seeding annuals.

Per-annual mix for my theoretical 1/4 acre (which I don't own):
- Yellow and White clovers
- Onobrychis (Sainfoin)
- Leonurus cardiaca (Motherwort)
- Echium vulgare (Viper's bugloss)
- Echinops sphaerocephalus (Globe-thistle)
- Phacelia tanacetifolia (Lacy phacelia)
- certain goldenrods (Stiff goldenrod is good; Canada goldenrod is OK; etc https://fieldguides.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/rapid-color-guides-pdfs/389_1.pdf)
- late native asters
 

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Thanks. Is there any particular mix I should look for? I notice there are several offered with different price ranges.
For early spring plant Pussy willow. You just go into the forest and cut branches, and stick them in a wet ground. Plant them on the perimeter. Plant daffodil, tulips and crocus for pollen. Let dandelion go crazy.

Summer spread seeds of the following milkweed, purple cone flower, black eye susan, single flower Dhalias. Go to home depot and buy a pollinator mix.

For the Fall, plant Montauk Daisies, stone crop, asters, and golden rod. Vines: Silver lace and virginia clematis. If you see a vacant lot nearby, throw some seed that way too.
 

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I chose buckwheat for my plot of about the same size. It grows quickly and the bees just go nuts on it. I have found that I can broadcast about every 2 weeks and keep a nice stand available and just mow it down in late fall. I tried red clover on another plot but didn't see that much activity on it so never tried it again.
 

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I tried red clover on another plot but didn't see that much activity on it so never tried it again.
In general, don't waste your time with red clover (unless want to promote bumblebees - they do love red clover).

It is well documented - honey bees can not take red clover due not long enough proboscis.
There is one exception - the Gray Caucasian bees will use reg clover somewhat as they have the longest proboscis of all honey bees.
In former USSR they specifically used the Gray Caucasians for targeted pollination of the red clover plantation (still, only after targeted training).
 

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another vote for buckwheat. most other things will be blooming when nectar-a-plenty in the bee forage world. you can time the buckwheat such that it will be blooming during your dearth. if you want to get crazy you can stagger the planting in rows so each row starts blooming a week or two later than the previous. if you are into managing deer at all, you can then broadcast some winter rye into the buckwheat as it is dying in the fall. it germinates at low temperatures and will provide a green food source through the winter. both of these seeds are cheap and do well in poor/un-managed soils.
any of the trees you plant will be years before they are beneficial. poplar and locust are great nectar sources, in a decade or two. a fruit orchard is great, for YOU. again, plenty other things blooming at this time. one consideration would be the korean evodia on the north side edge of your area. this is one of the younger flowering trees and blooms during your dearth. on the north side it wont shade the buckwheat.
 

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Thanks, I am getting great ideas here!
First off ... a link to a PNW site. http://sequimplants.com/planting-for-honey-2

I totally agree with some other comments here. Planting ground-covers or wildflowers may be nice but the bonuses from nectar or pollen producing trees and shrubs far outway anything on the ground. Bees will ignore those lovely little wildflowers if a smorgasbord of wild blackberry is near by. They will always go towards quantity. In our area trees like Holly, Black Locust, Madronna are always sought out. In CA you would find a greater variety of bee trees that would of course include the Eucalyptus family, Mimosa etc.

Try to find your own native trees and shrubs that provide early sustenance for your bees and also find something for fall. One other interesting note. Last February we had an intense and long lasting 3 foot snowfall, so all the bulbs, flowers that may have provided nectar where unavailable for weeks. My tall, Manzanita and or Strawberry tree were visited like crazy, both by bees and hummingbirds.

Invest in the vertical rather than the horizontal planting. 1/4 of an acre simply does not provide enough ground to make a difference.
One other interesting wildflower that blooms with the APPLE flow is Cynoglossum or Chinese forget-me-not. Aside from early Galanthus (snowdrops) or the Echium family I rarely have seen a better perennial. WEEDY though.
 

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Hey...I’m also in Kentucky. Here are a few thoughts. Roundstone Seed in Upton KY has several pollinator blends and are very familiar with local conditions. As far as planting trees or shrubs go, I would strongly recommend you look at planting something that blooms during the dearth. Rockbridge Trees in TN specializes in honey bee nectar plants. He is very knowledgeable and speaks at a lot of local bee club meetings and regional conferences. He has a website and is also very nice if you want to chat him up.
 

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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
White clover good sure. Lavender a bit high maintenance, but if you are really looking for something in the fall late seasons that are pretty much zero work load, think goldenrod. That will get you flowering plants deep into the fall, and re-seeding is not needed. Unfortunately it is best started from seed by planting after the first frost and letting it go through an entire winter. At least that's the theory with the 20K seed I put down over a bit under 1/2 acre with clover underneath. Western Washington.
 

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Buckwheat, grows quickly, cheap to buy seed, and bees love it. Mainly a late summer, early fall plant but will grow anytime with enough rain to germinate.
 

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I'd go with the tulip poplars, clover, and some berry bushes. Might as well get some good food out of the deal, IMO.

You guys may not believe this, but the very first honey I got from my backyard bees in what is now call Silicon Valley was mostly tulip poplar and I loved it. Turned out that there were many of these trees in our area, including our yard.
 

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I pondered this also when we bought our new place.
We decided to kill two birds with one stone and took an area about 1/2 acre i guess which was all covered with weeds/small trees/etc , cleared the land and planted 40-50 dwarf fruit trees there.
Its a mix of apricots/peaches/pears/apples/nectarines/cherries/plums.
All will flower and continue flowering year after year.
Fencing them to keep the **** deer out was a challenge but i have finally gotten that figured out.

These are all small trees that are supposed to max out around 8-10 feet x 8feet and are at the moment all in the 5-6 foot range. So it may be a couple or more years until they fruit but they produced a ton of flowers last year which the bees were all over.
We also lined the back fence line of the orchard with standard pussy willows.
In addition we planted tulip poplar, maples, red buds, and magnolias and dogwoods and 7 larger ornamental cherries around the property . We tried to choose trees for both aesthetic appeal and those that would benefit the bees.
 

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Buckwheat, grows quickly, cheap to buy seed, and bees love it. Mainly a late summer, early fall plant but will grow anytime with enough rain to germinate.
We've used buckwheat as a 'green manure' crop for several decades. Planted in the spring, you can cut it at least 2 times (after flower), then till it under....and yes the bees love it.

Every spring or fall during a light rain I'll plant yellow or white dutch clover wherever there is lawn (we have roughly 5 acres to mow), both make excellent ground covers.

1/4 acre will support 2-4 fruit trees (or several current/berry bushes) and give you and your bees some food.

That all said, if all I had to entice bees was a 1/4 acre I'd just let the dandelions bloom.....;)
 

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Trees produce more pollen and nector per space than another plant and they don't need much attention. Look on line for bee friendly trees that grow best in your climate. I like fruit trees.
 

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I had the same concern and it has caused me to take up a whole new hobby along with my beeking. Turns out Native Plants is extremely important to our entire environment and our bees. I am learning a lot with books on the subject and exploring the availability of Native plants near me. Also have purchased a dozen trees and a couple of bushes to be delivered in the next couple of weeks. Linden, tulip, black locust, wild plum are the trees and the bushes are hansen's bush cherry, and one i can't remember. I searched for nurseries near me to buy and they specialize in shipping.
 

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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:
But I like the neighbor freaking out that I am running the mower over trees taller than I am. :)
 

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We plant Hubam clover (a white sweet clover) as a summer cover crop on 1/4 acre of our garden area. It's been a great honey producer, tolerates heat and dry weather. We are in East Texas zone 8a. I think this would grow fine where you are. It will reseed itself heavily.
 
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