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ground cover, mulch or weed barrier around a hive?

 
Jason Hudgins
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Greetings! We are setting up our first ever hives this week, and I'm trying to figure out the best way way to provide easy 360 degree access around all our hives without having to get in there with a mower or weed-whacker.

The most common method I've read is just laying down weed barrier and covering it up with wood mulch or stones, but the idea of weed barrier doesn't sit well with me. Now I could use cardboard and wood mulch, but in my experience that will only last a couple of seasons, depending on the rainfall, very quickly pioneers are pushing up through it. I also have a lot of armadillos / skunks that like to dig through mulch looking for treats and if they decide they like an area ,the cardboard gets torn up quick. *Ideally* I would have a think stand of lowish growing dutch white clover but my soil is very alkaline, nitrogen and phosphorous poor and it's hard to get clover well established.

Looking for any suggestions!

 
Dave Dahlsrud
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How 'bout scything the grass down? Nice and quiet, calm rhythmic movement, could be nice and relaxing! Plus it gives you and excuse to get a scythe and learn how to use it...they're great tools!!!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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We mow around the hives about 3 times per year. A piece of plywood laid on the ground in front of the hive is a great way to keep the flyway clear.

 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Or just a few sheets of thick cardboard laid down in front of the hives will do the same job. You can top it up in the spring as it breaks down. Layers of cardboard become slow worm habitat in our garden (slug munchers!)
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Try subterranean clover or some other low growing plant. Creepying thyme, creeping daisies, etc.
 
Michael Cox
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Elle - I presume he is looking for a solution that doesn't involve standing in front of the hive for a few hours to dig it over and plant a new cover crop. I have pretty docile bees, but I don't like hanging around within 6ft of the hives when I can avoid it. If you have an empty apiary then low growing plants might be ok to get established, but anything that needs regular weeding to keep the grass from invading is going to lose out.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Michael Cox wrote:Elle - I presume he is looking for a solution that doesn't involve standing in front of the hive for a few hours to dig it over and plant a new cover crop. I have pretty docile bees, but I don't like hanging around within 6ft of the hives when I can avoid it. If you have an empty apiary then low growing plants might be ok to get established, but anything that needs regular weeding to keep the grass from invading is going to lose out.



That is the beauty of subterranean clover. It is low growing and smothers out the competition. He'd probably have to rough up the ground a bit first and over seed heavily but it should out compete any other plant. I have a subterranean clover lawn in the works myself. I broadcast sewed the seed, it's coming up, all is good.

I also know creeping thyme is a quick grower that can out compete other plants. With creeping thyme it's best to start it indoors. When it begins growing out of it's container you plant it in plugs where you want it to spread.

http://www.thymegarden.com/Groundcovers

Good pics of creeping thyme establishment here.

So perhaps wood chip, plant some creeping thyme plugs. Problem solved.
 
Michael Cox
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Elle - interesting info on the subterranean clover. Thanks.
 
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