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Author Topic: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?  (Read 2887 times)

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Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2017, 09:35:04 AM »
OK, so after some more research there are some other good cover crops that deer love as well as the bees. Most of the brassicas have a good bloom and are good deer forage.  In particular, some of the turnips also create deep air columns in the soil break up hardpan and increase water absorption.  I remember from researching earthworms that these air tunnels are surrounded with aerobic bacteria which are more beneficial to soil than anerobic bacteria. 

A lot of the clovers also fit the three big requirements.  They are good deer forage, they bloom at the right times for bees, and the seeds are inexpensive.  Alsike, dutch white, red and sweet clovers fit these requirements.  Sweet clovers are a bit tall for very young stands.

My understanding is that many timber parcels are owned by insurance companies.  So I will start contacting TIMOs and asking if they are willing to work with me if I can show that cover crops will increase their return on investment through nitrogen fixation and increased game forage and tilth.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread, by no means is the subject closed. Please continue to offer more advice.

Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2017, 09:05:22 PM »
Another thought.  Seeding cover crops between rows of pine will be rough work, with all the downed logs, branches and everything.  It would be easier to broadcast seed on the entire parcel just before the pine gets planted.  Then I could get around the brush easier.

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2017, 09:04:17 PM »
I am going to send you a PM right now.  I would be very interested to speak with you about working together on our land in southern Virginia.  On our land I am actually doing something very similar with silvaculture as the goal.  I have played with bees for a couple of years with no degree of lasting success, mites got me two years ago, not really sure what happened a few weeks back when I lost several hives, but I have zero background with bees and nobody to mentor with.  For what it's worth we use zero herbicide or insecticides at all on our property.
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Offline DDW_OR

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2017, 02:40:34 AM »
.... I have played with bees for a couple of years with no degree of lasting success, mites got me two years ago, not really sure what happened a few weeks back when I lost several hives, but I have zero background with bees and nobody to mentor with.  For what it's worth we use zero herbicide or insecticides at all on our property.

Mites to bees is like termites to wood.
eventually all gets infected with out treatment.

I also have limited knowledge of bee keeping and have tried no treatments but will be using various treatments in the future. i have been told to not use the same treatment more than two years in a row so the mites do not become immune. ideally one type per year.
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Online PA_Walnut

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2017, 05:14:51 AM »
Interesting post! I am curious for some input/info on my situation. I have about 3/4 acre on a steep hill,  that I cleared in the Fall. We hydroseeded with micro clover (low and fast and known for nitrogen fixing since it's difficult to reach the area for fertilization), white clover and an American Meadows Northestern wildflower mix which had bloomers from early spring through late fall. This mixture contains 27 wildflowers, 17 annuals for first-year color, plus 10 perennials or biennials for second and successive years' bloom.

Since I have wooded areas too with a lot of undergrowth ranging from wild roses, to raspberries to downright even weeds and thorns of unknown species, there's a lot of blooms going on most of the growth season.

This is all at/near the site where I have my mill, which I did primarily for aesthetic reasons, but I'd also like to place a honey bee colony there and have the joy of harvesting my own honey.

Any comments about how much/large of a bee colony this may support and will the noise from the mill irritate the bees. The spot which I'd place hives is 250-300' from the mill.

Thanks!


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Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #25 on: December 24, 2017, 05:39:37 PM »
I don't think the noise will bother your prospective bees at all.  They will be fine near your mill.  But the 3/4 acre of new forage will not tip the balance to feed your bees.  A hive forages up to 8-10,000 acres and the amount of flowering trees or wildflowers in that big region is more crucial to hive health than a new small meadow.  Every bit helps and I don't want to rain on anyone's enthusiasm, but I want to be realistic.  Put up your first hive and see how much honey it collects, then you know whether your bees have the food resources to expand in the future.  Often one beehive collects lots of honey when another one just 5 miles away collects very little.  Regions vary greatly.

Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #26 on: December 24, 2017, 05:45:51 PM »
Quote
I also have limited knowledge of bee keeping and have tried no treatments but will be using various treatments in the future. i have been told to not use the same treatment more than two years in a row so the mites do not become immune. ideally one type per year.
In general this is good common sense.  There is an effective treatment method using oxalic acid which been used widespread for 15 years without losing effectiveness.  But wherever you can, it is a good policy to vary the type of treatment to prevent resistance.  Some of the treatment methods take more skill and experience so another factor to consider is what type of treatment you can make without harming your bees. 

Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2017, 05:48:41 PM »
I am going to send you a PM right now.  I would be very interested to speak with you about working together on our land in southern Virginia.  On our land I am actually doing something very similar with silvaculture as the goal.  I have played with bees for a couple of years with no degree of lasting success, mites got me two years ago, not really sure what happened a few weeks back when I lost several hives, but I have zero background with bees and nobody to mentor with.  For what it's worth we use zero herbicide or insecticides at all on our property.

I got the PM and have enjoyed the conversation. 

Offline DDW_OR

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2017, 01:32:40 PM »
.........Any comments about how much/large of a bee colony this may support and will the noise from the mill irritate the bees. The spot which I'd place hives is 250-300' from the mill.

Thanks!

Place the hives in an area that is not used much so they do not get disturbed.
I agree the noise from the mill will have little effect on the hives.

use a motorized radial extractor to get the honey out of the frames.
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Offline DDW_OR

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #29 on: December 25, 2017, 02:36:52 PM »
I got my first hive off of Craigslist 12/07/14. it turned out to be a weak hive so i had to baby it through the winter. fed it sugar and installed a 3 foot heating tape on the bottom board.

the first year, 2015, i had two swarms move into my empty hive boxes, that made 3 hives total
in its first summer i got 12 frames of honey using the hand crank. as my mentor stated as he inspected the hives "no body gets this much their first year"
the reason is i am almost in the middle of nowhere. and there are very few beekeepers near me
and lots of blackberry.

2016, got 27 quarts of honey from 18 frames using the electric motor. my extractor is a 9 frame from http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Advanced-Extracting-Kit_2
had to buy the motor separately

this year, 2017, i started with 4 hives. one died, one got drowned when the lid blew off during a rain storm. and the wet spring delayed honey production. so i could only get 3 frames safely

so in 2018 i will be splitting my remaining 2 hives to make 4. since i have 166 acres i will move the splits to the other end of the property. and install a solar electric fence to protect them from predators, bear, raccoon, skunk, and people.

lessons learned:
rise hive 2 feet off of ground
heavy brick or block on top of lid
hive medications to treat honey bee parasites
MOTORIZED extractor. it is like having an extra helper
in my area i have to worry about humidity in the hive more than the cold

tried putting a long heat tape around the extractor to add heat to make the honey flow better. it worked great. had to re-wire the tape so it would work at temps above 45 deg F
tried adding a water heater blanket, but it was a mess to clean
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Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #30 on: January 02, 2018, 07:38:51 AM »
DDW, it sounds to me like you're doing everything right.  Depending on how long your honey flow is in the spring, you might purchase a couple of queens and split your hives early in the year, when your flow is beginning.  Often these splits fail because the bee population is too small to keep warm, but in your part of the country that is less of an issue. 

I only suggest this because I get the impression that you have more hives when you wrote that you had a couple of empties laying around to attract swarms.  If you're out of hive bodies, no need to make more splits.  Also, with your acreage, you might do some selective plant growing to help your bees along your fence lines or any land that is not being worked for a higher purpose.  You're right, blackberries are a very good source of food for bees.

Most people say that your plantings will make no difference but I think an acre of good bloom during the dearth will keep your hives alive and could still work with the other goals you have for your land.

Offline eastcoastbeek

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #31 on: January 02, 2018, 07:41:35 AM »
Oops, upon re-reading your post I see that you have already decided to make a couple more splits.  Nice to see an alignment of thinking. 

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2018, 12:08:07 PM »
the Douglas County Beekeepers Association sent out this news article.
further study is needed but outcome is promising. unless the Varroa mites develop a resistance.
_______________________________________ ____________

Accidental Discovery Could Save Bees From Their Greatest Threat

They've found that a tiny dose of the compound lithium chloride kills Varroa destructor mites without harming bees.
https://www.realclearscience.com/quick_and_clear_science/2018/01/15/accidental_discovery_could_save_bees_from_their_greatest_threat.html
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2018, 08:30:44 PM »
I have read sourwood trees produced exceptional honey.  It definitely grows in the southeast and is otherwise useless.  Unless you like to make arrows, it is the most prolific coppicing tree i have encountered and the shoots are very straight. 

Deer will eat on the first year of shoots but will prefer gum ir maple sprouts (which also coppice great) over sourwood by the second year.  I have clumps of sourwood shoots that grew from zero to 7ft in one season.  Nothing else here grows that fast.

http://mtnhoney.com/types_honey.htm
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Online Southside logger

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2018, 09:57:06 PM »
I have read sourwood trees produced exceptional honey.  It definitely grows in the southeast and is otherwise useless.  Unless you like to make arrows, it is the most prolific coppicing tree i have encountered and the shoots are very straight. 

Deer will eat on the first year of shoots but will prefer gum ir maple sprouts (which also coppice great) over sourwood by the second year.  I have clumps of sourwood shoots that grew from zero to 7ft in one season.  Nothing else here grows that fast.

http://mtnhoney.com/types_honey.htm

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2018, 09:37:45 AM »
Ive seen it on my roadtrips along a lot of interstate but not anywhere in my area yet.
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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2018, 06:56:24 PM »
I hate Crown vetch. It almost ruined our Christmas tree farm. You can't kill it.
We have lots of problems in my area with bears stealing our honey.
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Offline TheRidginian

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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2018, 06:01:54 PM »
How about sweet clover? 
I like it.  Years ago everyone was worried about the coumarin (sp?) that forms after flowering as it can kill livestock.  It tolerates a wide range of soil types, is cheap and can be frost-seeded.  I use it for a long term-cover crop (2 years or more before plowing down) or in the hog pasture after they have done their worst) :D and grazing before it flowers.  It flowers a little later than a lot of the trees and native plants.    Buckwheat might be an option the first year, though it doesn't fix N.  Crimson clover is nice, but I don't think the bees can reach the nectar.

From a soil erosion standpoint, I think the cover crop would be worth it even without pollinator benefit, or even helping the trees get started.

If you are already mowing between the rows, white clover seems to be beneficial to the bees, though the fellow that keeps bees on our place doesn't put much stock in it.  They work it pretty heavy, though.  Busy bees and all that...  Of course it shades out easily.

I am converting some acreage of poor woods into silvopasture slowly, so we are sort of going in opposite directions, but with some shared goals.  I hope to read more about your endeavor!


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Re: trees and bees, can it pay to plant cover crops in young forests?
« Reply #38 on: April 07, 2018, 07:59:22 PM »
Just in case you have not yet checked them out, let me suggest Ernst Seeds as a source for native seed mixes tailored to a variety of needs.  I've been retired for a while, but used to use them all the time.
https://www.ernstseed.com/products/
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