Since I live in a larger city for the time being, my projects are all done at my parents. For years we have let our honeybees do their own thing, occasionally harvesting honey, but not intensively managing them. However, I would like to give my bees a bigger/better selection this year. I want to put some sort of seed mix out in my parents pasture, roughly 1.5 acres in zone 5. At the same time, there is a good chance some of my brothers cattle will be in the pasture over the summer as well. Does anyone know of some seed mixes that would both be good for bee forage, that are not harmful to cattle, and do well in or around a pasture setting? Thank you in advance!
Around here, most cow pastures have an abundance of dutch white clover growing in them that honeybees really love. The clover, the grass, and the cows get along well together.
A colony of bees might range over an area of 4000 to 8000 acres, so in the overall scheme of things, the flowers in a cow pasture don't make much difference to a colony of bees. However, seeds washing downstream from a patch of clover are likely to seed the surrounding area. Yellow clover and alfalfa are also prized by honeybees around here, so planting them along roadways and in abandoned places for a couple miles in all directions around the colony can go a long ways towards improving nectar flow for the bees.
If I lived where my hives are, I'd probably plant an acre or two for them. It'd mainly be just for fun though. They really don't need it. It could be worthwhile if it was dual purpose though. I'd plant a mixture of clovers. They don't bloom at exactly the same time. I don't think I'd plant anything else in the pasture if you still want it to be productive for cows.
There is a little clover in the pasture already, I guess I could add different varieties, but I was hoping for more of a range of flowers throughout the spring, summer and fall. As far as there being a lot of available sources nearby, there really isn't. My parents farm, and there is miles of crop fields around their farmstead, so for a large portion of the year, there isn't very many flowering plants. There are patches of woods about half a mile away from their apiary, so there's bound to be things growing there, but I was hoping to give them a bigger boost.