Agroforestry can do a very nice job of integrating commercial and non-commercial outcomes in an agricultural setting. One appealing practice is mixing beekeeping with trees and pasture. With careful planning the trees and pasture mix can provide pollen and nectar to keep bees healthy, providing pollination services and honey for consumption or sale. We've had bee fodder in mind as one criterion for our tree planting designing.
South Gippsland Landcare Network ran a seminar a few weeks ago covering this topic. Tasmanian agroforester Mark Leech spoke along with several local beekeepers. There's a brief writeup on our blog and a link to Mark's book on bee friendly trees for our part of the world.
We haven't found templates to help guide us on designing our planting. I asked Mark if there were such guides for SE Australia. Mark said that we were pioneers. I suspect that there's a lot of vernacular experience in European beekeeping on how to mix bee fodder from trees and pasture species with other outcomes such as timber but this knowledge probably existed as practiced and may not have been captured in text. And a SE Australian version would use different species.
I think this is an area where permies can make a useful contribution. Developing agroforestry systems that work with multiple outcomes such as honey is a fascinating area with a range of benefits. We're going to have a crack.
When's the best time to plant a tree? About 20 years ago. When's the next best time? Today!
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