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 Feed The Bees? 
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:00 am
Posts: 143
Location: Crooked River Ranch, Oregon
Post Feed The Bees?
Something is pollinating my fruit trees, because I'm getting fruit. But I'm in the desert without much around, so I am thinking I should plant something with a long flowering season to keep the bees (or ?) happy with something to eat, outside the few weeks that the fruit trees are flowering.

Right now, a few miniature bumble bees are feasting on very tiny wildflowers. A neighbor kept a hive, but that is now gone, and I'm still getting fruit. If the miniature bumble bees are it, I'd like to keep them around.

I've got 2 dozen hardy hibiscus cuttings ready to go out this year. They will have flowers from mid June until it freezes. Are they a food source for bees? I could put some of them into the orchard instead of using them for the hedge I had planned (which would be 5 miles away).

What else has a long flowering season, feeds bees, will put up with dry and cold, and doesn't require too much very expensive water? I'd ask for deer-proof, but there is no such thing. If it isn't securely fenced, it is a snack.


Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:01 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 5:24 pm
Posts: 126
Location: Puyallup, WA
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
Plant English lavender and Lithodora. Both flower mid-summer for extended season and bees swarm around them. It's amazing how many bees you'll see working these flowers on a sunny day. Once established these two are pretty tolerant of drought. The Lithodora does well with heavy mulch.


Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:42 am
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1375
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
You could also just gradually have a longer list of flowering/fruiting trees. Of my fruiting trees, the first are Cornus mas in February, and I think my last are Pineapple Guava in July. That's a long time. Something is flowering 100% of that time interval. Then you have the flowering trees, bushes etc., which is till frost.
John S
PDX OR


Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:08 pm
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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:55 pm
Posts: 12
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
Sweet clover is a superb nectar source for bees. Since it is a legume, you need high pH well drained soil to grow it. It also adds nitrogen to the soil, especially if tilled in after bloom. Biennial.


Mon May 10, 2010 3:43 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1166
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
…My Sister (the Master Gardener) is my flower expert and I think Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia) are very attractive to bees, as well as butterflies… Here’s a basic link: http://www.butterflybush.net/

I’ve another friend who’s declared war on them… they can be invasive, but on the east side, probably less so. And with this notation: “The garden will do fine in a sunny spot as the sun will not scorch or discolor leaves. Even in the hottest of times the plants will still thrive” – they may survive :wink:

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Wed May 12, 2010 8:56 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:00 am
Posts: 143
Location: Crooked River Ranch, Oregon
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
Thanks, guys. I will carefully consider all suggestions. We were already discussing clover as ground cover in the orchard because it is nitrogen fixing and also grows well in this area.

I'm going to plant some penstemon and coreopis, because they are bee friendly, can take my weather, and bloom after the fruit trees, holding blooms from then until first freeze.

I'm still looking for more options. It's funny how every website is careful to not say that a plant attracts bees. I guess that bees are a turn off for non-orchard people.


Thu May 13, 2010 10:54 am
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Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:55 pm
Posts: 12
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
Without bees, the human race would starve.

I've been working my bee hives all week, splitting, adding supers....

I quite enjoy working honeybees, it's great exercise.

Ben


Thu May 13, 2010 5:33 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1166
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
How many hives, Ben? I’ve had honeybees too, just one hive, with two ‘hive bodies’ and two ‘supers.’ I never did become immune to their stings … and after a ‘no reason’ sting, I moved them away from the orchard and into the woods… About the time the first round of mites began taking out colonies. I do miss fresh comb honey… but not the stings.

It was likely 15 years before I again saw a swarm of honeybees - three years ago, and at least one every year since. They appear to be surviving in the wild, likely evolution in progress; those capable of surviving the multiple attacks are producing the bees of the future. I occasionally miss them; collecting swarms in Portland with my Dad was always an adventure!

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Thu May 13, 2010 6:24 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:35 am
Posts: 1
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
I second lavendar which is very tollerant of dry conditions, flowering over a long time and always covered in bee's. It also makes a great cut flower at the end of the season with the natural oils giving scent to you home for the following year.

My experience of clover is that it does need some care until it is very well established and I have had more success when I have sown it with grass seeds at the same time (for some reason). There are red clover seeds and white clover with white clover (generally) the shorter variety and red clover growing up to 0.5m tall. I dont know which is better for your conditions but clover seed is very cheap so it wouldnt be a problem to experiement a little.

Good luck caring for the bees!


Last edited by Marsha on Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:48 am
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:07 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
We need to do all we can for the bees! I agree - Lavendar is a good choice plus you'll have the secondary benefit of its wonderful fragrance. Plant a variety if possible.


Last edited by Marsha on Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:12 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:21 pm
Posts: 43
Location: McMinnville, OR
Post Re: Feed The Bees?
here is my 2 c worth;
plant native plants that bloom in the same periods as your trees. Native plants will bring in native pollinators and that will be a lot more sustainable. Different flowers have different shapes bees need room to get into the pistles and stamens, good hunting :)


Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:17 am
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