• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Best ground cover under bees, and mowing

 
Nancy Phillips
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm preparing my bee yard for next month's arrival of bees, very excited to start with a Warre' hive! I've got an area with good sun and nw windbreak. Its filled with scrubgrass now that gets pretty tall. I want to plant lots of pollinator friendly plants and herbs, flowers around.

I'm debating what to have under the hive itself and immediate area. I'd prefere not to have heavy mower too close. I don't want cement...too cold here in Illinois. Woodchips? try to establish creeping thyme? or just let the grass grow and hand clip? Thanks for any suggestions!
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
White Dutch clover! Low growing, bees love it, good ground cover.
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll second that. Clover is often the first pollen/nectar of the season.
Low growing, and can stand some foot traffic.

Be certain to provide a 'drown-proof' watering hole for your bees.

 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 566
Location: Longbranch, WA
26
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another thing to consider is late afternoon overheating. In this area there is a mock bamboo that dies back in the winter but grows vigorously in the spring and becomes a high hedge in late summer. Then it blooms in fall with a very heavy nectar flow when most other plants have stopped booming. It would make an exelent planting to the west of the hives.
 
Matthew Metzler
Posts: 14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome
IS there a ground cover that will help keep away things that are harmful to the bees and the hive?
Be well
Matt
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hans Quistorff wrote:Another thing to consider is late afternoon overheating. In this area there is a mock bamboo that dies back in the winter but grows vigorously in the spring and becomes a high hedge in late summer. Then it blooms in fall with a very heavy nectar flow when most other plants have stopped booming. It would make an exelent planting to the west of the hives.


do you know the name of this plant? not one I'm familiar with, but it sounds very handy.
 
Matthew Groves
Posts: 10
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can clover flourish even in soil that's not low in nitrogen?

I like the height and nectar benefits, for sure.
 
Matt Fearnow
Posts: 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
IIRC, someone had once said, food planted under and just near the hive will for the most part be ignored. What is the first thing a bee does and leaves the hive for (feces)? So I'd be interested to hear what some of the experts have to say.
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 566
Location: Longbranch, WA
26
chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matthew Groves wrote:Can clover flourish even in soil that's not low in nitrogen?

I like the height and nectar benefits, for sure.

Yes White clover is one of the plants that can survive with low nitrogen and produce more if the seed is inoculated with the synergistic bacteria that grows on its roots. It is one of the best ways to build soil from sub soil. I sowed it on the slope left after installing my manufactured home and now the third year the soil is supporting grass with the clover.
 
jacob wustner
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
13
bee chicken fish goat hugelkultur hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nancy,

sepp holzer recommends planting thyme, marjoram, rosemary and other aromatic herbs right in front of the entrance so the bees have to climb through them. Obviously thyme is used extensively in a concentrated form to control varroa mites, so planting these types of herbs can't hurt right! He also suggests cutting them once in a while to release some of the essential oils into the air.

I am a big fan of white clover, and suggest planting it next to the hive, in the bee yard, and everywhere you can. A few clover plants in front of the hive is not going to be a great feed source, but a large yard or field full of it will.

As for bees ignoring food in front of their hive, it depends on what is beyond. IF there is a major nectar flow that has been on for more than a day, the bees will definitely fly right over anything between them and that major source. If there are a few dandelions blooming a foot in front of the hive in the early spring before any major flows, there will be many bees on the flowers.

White clover, dandelions and thyme shouldn't get too tall. Use a scythe as a trimming device if you are worried about buggin the bees. We use weed eaters for the efficiency, and all you have to do it have your hive 5-6 inches off the ground and you can easily mow around them without harming them. Wear your veil though. Move quickly but deliberately and avoid hitting the hives or stands with the strings/flails.

If you live in a place with hot weather, you can either use Paul Wheaton's design of a bee shade that is basically a roof to shade the bees during the day, or you can put them in shady places or grow tall plants around the hives to help keep them cool. Experiment. I suggest finding places that have early sun, mid-day shade and some protection from wind if possible.
 
David Heaf
author
Posts: 24
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like to put a recycled paving slab under each hive. If you want the combs to be removable, it is important for a Warré hive to be level, and the slab gives a firm base on which to complete the levelling of the hive stand. I use a spirit level. The slabs are usually 2' x 2', rarely 18" square. The larger slab allows a patch at the front for catching objects dropped from the entrance, e.g. discarded queens. It can sometimes be handy in diagnosis.

The slab is set level with the soil surface and is surrounded with whatever grass/weeds that happen to be growing there. I have 8 apiaries so keeping the grass round the hive under control is a chore in the summer. In the larger apiaries I use a Flymo, and in the others a sickle or shears. The bees can be irritated by the smell of vegetation being cut by the hive. With a Flymo, one is away from a particular hive in seconds, so the intrusion is not too severe.

A beek near me uses a strimmer round his hives. One the bees stopped it by blocking the air intake. It is said that they are sensitive to the electromagnetic field created by the ignition system.

This year, I am considering getting an Austrian scythe, lured by the videos on the net showing the apparent ease with which mowers dispatch swathes of dense vegetation, the mower in one case being a quite young girl.

As for planting forage plants near the hive: it is true that the bee books say that bees forage further away. But I have seen them foraging on plants only a few yards from the hive: bramble (Rubus fructicosus), daisy (Bellis perennis) and snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis). The front cover of Warrés book Beekeeping for All (Northern Bee Books, 2007) shows a clump of snowdrops in front of one of my hives, set up in order to illustrate its various parts. Seeing the foragers on daisy was a first for this year. They wee getting pollen from them. It has been a long cold winter here in Wales, and it still seems to be continuing. The bees were probably desperate for pollen, but because of the cold, could not forage far from the hive.
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This year, I am considering getting an Austrian scythe, lured by the videos on the net showing the apparent ease with which mowers dispatch swathes of dense vegetation, the mower in one case being a quite young girl.


That young girl is the farmer's 14 year old daughter. She certainly does make it look easy.
She probably takes longer to braid her hair than she does to clear an acre.

 
Hey, sticks and stones baby. And maybe a wee mention of my stuff:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic