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how much Lonicera do i need to plant to help a hive???

 
andrew curr
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Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Just wonderin'
 
D. Young
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OK: I'll bite. What is Lonicera?
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I'll have a stab at this, but you may not like the answer...

Bees forage over an area of between 3 and 5 miles in radius. Area is approx 75 square miles... around 20,000 hectares. Unless your planting is making a sizeable impact when compared to this scale the benefits to a hive are going to be marginal. Perhaps with the exception of moderate planting that fulfil a specific fodder need for the bees at critical times of year.

Far more important from the bees point of view is being situated in a diverse and productive environment on much broader scales than single plantings. One of the factors that has been linked to the decline of bees is large areas of monocrop agriculture (far large than were seen historically) leaving bees with no forage for portions of the year.

If I were thinking about planting specifically for bees I would survey the surrounding area and try to get an feeling for what species are already represented and some idea of when in the year there may be a hungry gap (a period with a short fall in nectar flow). Then I would look at how to incorporate species at provide nectar and pollen over that specific period, but also provide other yields for me (eg trees provide fodder and fuel wood, crops that provide fruit or seeds, nitrogen fixers that support the whole food web, flowers for cutting eg lavender).

I don't want to discourage from planting with bees in mind, but think that a broader scale view would be more beneficial to the bees.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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D. Young wrote:What is Lonicera?


honeysuckle
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Anyone have a good simple list of bee food by season? As a new beekeep, the hardest thing has been figuring out if I have any holes in the food availability and how to patch them.
 
Jay Angler
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If Lonicera is honeysuckle, a new plant that's all the rage in our area is the edible plant from that family being called Haskap (spelling?) or Honeyberry. It's being pushed because it's very early fruiting, therefore early blosoming. I bought two varieties last year, but couldn't get their bed built, so I healed them into my "nursery bed". Weeks ago, I saw a Bumble bee visiting on a sunny afternoon. That does support the idea of the Honeyberry plants being good early forage for bees and good spring food for humans.
Jacke's Edible Forest Gardens Vol II has excellent lists of bee plants and blosoming times. There can't be a single list, as geography and climate shifts the schedules and even different varieties of the same plant will bloom at different times.
I completely agree with Michael that the best thing we can do for honey bees is have a polyculture. However, I have a vague recollection of reading/hearing that a 4 ft by 4ft patch of a specific coloured flower or plant patch had a greater chance of attracting a bee's attention than something smaller. Any comments on that anyone??
 
Blythe Barbo
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Location: Sequim, WA USA - zone 8b
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I have a vague recollection of reading/hearing that a 4 ft by 4ft patch of a specific coloured flower or plant patch had a greater chance of attracting a bee's attention than something smaller. Any comments on that anyone??

I have frequently read that, too - that the bees like to forage a single species at a time and that planting in small masses, or patches, makes it easier for them. I plant a rather large variety of beeplants and track what is blooming when so I can see where the gaps are. I also plant things that are early bloomers (crocus, for example) near the hive so they have something right outside their door when the weather is bad. I try to plant things that bloom across several months for a steady supply and a variety of blooms - lots of herbs - native plants - and things like hollyhocks, phacelia, comfrey, catnip, borage, poppies are huge bee magnets, in addition to flushes of dandelions and fruit trees and berries. The Melissa Garden has a good listing, but not by season; this Wikipedia article is great for a listing of pollen sources: Pollen Sources. Another great resource is Pollinator Partnership; take the link to Planting Guides and it gives a lot of information according to region. (and if you want to see what I've got going on my back acre, go to Barbolian Fields - Beeplants - a work in progress!). One thing that planting for the honeybees has taught me is a new appreciation for native pollinators of all kinds.
 
Peter Hartman
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I have done a bit of research and there seems to be a question about how well honey bees can get to the nectar in honey suckle. We have tons of it around us so it will be interesting to know. I have heard bumble bees are much better are utilizing it.
 
Jay Angler
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Hi Blythe,
Thanks for the links. I’ve just been reading the Wiki link and was surprised at how closely related plants are scored very differently by the honeybees – ex. sour cherry is “very good”, but black cherry is “minor”. I certainly don’t know enough about planting for bees yet! It appears that the article is specifically for honey bees and not other bees, so that also affects one’s plant plans.
I grow lots of raspberries and cotoneaster, and I know they love those, but I need to observe other plants for bee activity at other times of the year.
 
andrew curr
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Michael Cox wrote:I'll have a stab at this, but you may not like the answer...

Bees forage over an area of between 3 and 5 miles in radius. Area is approx 75 square miles... around 20,000 hectares. Unless your planting is making a sizeable impact when compared to this scale the benefits to a hive are going to be marginal. Perhaps with the exception of moderate planting that fulfil a specific fodder need for the bees at critical times of year.

Far more important from the bees point of view is being situated in a diverse and productive environment on much broader scales than single plantings. One of the factors that has been linked to the decline of bees is large areas of monocrop agriculture (far large than were seen historically) leaving bees with no forage for portions of the year.

If I were thinking about planting specifically for bees I would survey the surrounding area and try to get an feeling for what species are already represented and some idea of when in the year there may be a hungry gap (a period with a short fall in nectar flow). Then I would look at how to incorporate species at provide nectar and pollen over that specific period, but also provide other yields for me (eg trees provide fodder and fuel wood, crops that provide fruit or seeds, nitrogen fixers that support the whole food web, flowers for cutting eg lavender).

I don't want to discourage from planting with bees in mind, but think that a broader scale view would be more beneficial to the bees.
Lonicera seems to be the only thing that flowers here in july
Ive had a little sucess planting it in autumn!
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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july... that is southern hemisphere winter right? Are your bees even flying then or are they dormant? Ours would be essentially dormant at the equivalent time of year. During dormancy they rely on winter stores of honey rather than foraging nectar. If your bees are starving through winter perhaps you are harvesting too heavily in Autumn?

Spring harvesting can be effective, once you know the bees have made it through and are bringing in fresh nectar from the spring flows.
 
andrew curr
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Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Michael Cox wrote:july... that is southern hemisphere winter right? Are your bees even flying then or are they dormant? Ours would be essentially dormant at the equivalent time of year. During dormancy they rely on winter stores of honey rather than foraging nectar. If your bees are starving through winter perhaps you are harvesting too heavily in Autumn?

Spring harvesting can be effective, once you know the bees have made it through and are bringing in fresh nectar from the spring flows.

I dont own bees just appreciate them!
we have big frosts then and often mild days
black locust and yellow box comes in september!
 
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