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Author Topic: Thinking ahead to spring!  (Read 2591 times)

Offline MarkF

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Thinking ahead to spring!
« on: August 09, 2008, 11:42:50 PM »
I am looking for some plant that come up and flower as soon as the snow starts melting I'm thinking Crocus, Daffodils, Tulips... Any other ideas that will be good for the bees?
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Offline SgtMaj

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2008, 06:50:44 AM »
I don't know how good it would be for the bees, but you could try Winter Aconite (Eranthus hyemalis).  It's part of the buttercup family and it starts blooming in late Febuary on average.

PS - A google image search was able to yield at least 2 photos of honey bees working Winter Aconite (Eranthus hyemalis), so it can't be too bad for them.

Offline Jessaboo

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2008, 09:37:38 PM »
I'd have to make an argument for winter hazel, witch hazel, winter sweet, and forsythia. I can't really speak to their bee-worthiness but they are very early bloomers and must have nectar and/or pollen.

Hellebores are very early (or very late?) bloomers, too. In warmer areas they will bloom thru Dec/Jan. In cooler areas they will start up again in a warm Feb or by March anyway.

We have a camellia that blooms pretty early but you will have to pay attention to variety as not all camellias are hardy in all zones and not all of them bloom in winter.

If you can stand some weeds, henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and/or ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) bloom in March here in NJ and the bees love both of those but both can take over a garden in no time flat.

SgtMjr's winter aconite suggestion is a great one. Snowdrops, squill and fritillaria are some more late winter/early spring bulbs, but again - bee-worthiness is questionable at best.

I think there is a type of dogwood that blooms late winter but I am blanking on the name. Somethingcherry? I am sure if you google it it will come right up. It gets red berries after the flowers.

What about heather? I have not grown it personally but my understanding is that it is very hearty, an early bloomer and I know bees like it. Hmmmm, maybe I will order some of that myself!

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Offline MrILoveTheAnts

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2008, 10:00:44 PM »
Crocuses will likely be blooming while there's snow on the ground. I planted some last fall for them this spring and they were up and blooming way to early in the year. When it finally was warm enough for the bees, they ended up working the weedy mint and dandelion more. Most of the ornamental bulbs just aren't worth the bee's time. The only exception I've ever seen is the blue Hyacinths, I think they're called blue grape or something like that. Snowdrop seem to be another one they work but I've never seen bees working anything like Daffodils and Tulips.

Probably your best bet would be a flowering tree or shrub of some sort. Willows tend to be a very early bloomer and come in a variety of forms. Most are actually small bushes. A number of fruit producing trees also flower in the early spring. For your area you'd want to look for something with a lot of chill hours or cool hours or whatever it's called. Otherwise a slight warm period will cause it to bloom to early. An Apple tree perhaps? If you lack space they do sell semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties that only grow 12 feet tall. Some varieties that I've been trying to read about only grow as a 6 to 8 feet tall tree and grow the fruit right on the trunk itself.

Maple trees I've seen bees using and they bloom early though the flowers often go unnoticed. Some trees I've seen blooming and have no bees on them at all. So some varieties work while others don't. Don't know enough about them.

I've actually covered a lot there but I'm not sure how much of it grows in your area. But there must be more.

Offline Cindi

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2008, 01:12:39 AM »
MILTA, the name that I know that cultivar of Hyacinth is:  Grape Hyacinth -- that is  blooming about the same time that my bees are foraging, but there is other stuff that is more attractive to them, never seen them on the Grape Hyacinth....beautiful, beautiful day, Cindi
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2008, 08:55:07 PM »
I keep planting birdsfoot trefoil, alfalfa, white and yellow sweet clover, white dutch clover, chicory, goldenrod, asters, milkweed and buckwheat.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2008, 02:12:23 AM »
I'm going to be replacing the shrubbery around the house with bee friendly types like butterfly bush, privet, etc.
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Offline KONASDAD

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2008, 02:52:01 PM »
Heather blooms starting around News Year and the bees will go to it on those warm days of winter and early spring. Two other very early bloomers are pussywillows, and skunk cabbage. They get loads of pollen from skunk cabbage. Not something you plant, but might be available in your area.
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Offline MrILoveTheAnts

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2008, 02:56:24 PM »
Butterfly bush doesn't exactly bloom early, but it is blooming than what I would consider it's native counter part, Joe Pye Weed. Not that Joe Pye Weed would make a good hedge, it's a perennial that dies down to the ground each year. While I don't approve of Butterfly Bush, A few I'd recommend for a hedge would be, Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), and your local Ceanothus species (western US have blue mountain lilac, and east there's we have New Jersey Tea but that doesn't grow as big.) Maybe even American Beauty Bush (Callicarpa americana). Winged sumac might be good too. Each of them bloom at a different time of year, some over the summer right when the bees need it most, and most of them are fragrant.

New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), and American Beauty Bush both bloom pretty early (May) but by then swarm season is usually well underway.

Another early bloomer I'm interested in is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). I don't know if bees like it but it's blooming in March and April. Also can be rare or protected in some locations so Don't just pick some if you find them out in the woods.

Offline greg spike

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2008, 09:44:53 PM »
Hey Brian,
You might want to check on the privet before you plant; Bees love them, but they're an invasive pain in the butt around here. A good long winter might keep them in check, though.

Offline qa33010

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2008, 12:20:23 AM »
   The Henbit is a favorite around here.  As is Carolina Beauty.  Does holly grow well up there?  Here the honey bees are all over the holly and maples before the henbit and carolinas come out.  I have seen hummers, butterflies and honey bees at times visit the same plants.  So I use butterfly and hummer plants that would allow honeybees access to the nectar.  Would this link help at all? 

http://home.pacifier.com/~neawanna/humm/pojar.html

or this one?

http://www.tilthproducers.org/tfia/bees.htm
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2008, 11:54:03 PM »
Crocuses are great too.  There are a lot of good trees.  Tulip poplar, black locust, sourwood, red maple, pussywillow, basswood, tupelo, early fruit trees, like plums, redbuds, cherries...
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Offline TwT

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2008, 12:18:14 AM »
and for a quick pollen booster tree get bradford pair tree's, my bee's work these like crazy because its is among the first to bloom in very early spring, very little nectar but loads of pollen.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 05:47:09 PM »
I do not lack for early season forage sources, it is more a problem of lack or scarcity of late season nector sources that I want to address.  Something that comes on for a prolonged period (2-3 weeks) after the blackberries in mid to late-July. 
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Offline Cindi

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2008, 01:41:08 AM »
Brian, grow the hyssops, perennials, yours forever until then....I am serious, I grow two species of these.  The mother hyssop provide a massive nectar source, the cuttings from the mother plants provide a later nectar source, this flow continues from July beginning to September beginning or longer.....hyssop is a massive nectar/pollen source for the bees, mostly all summer long, as does the phacelia tanacetifolia and borage, which self-seed all summer long, providing nectar and pollen in copious amounts.  I have masses of these two annuals that have set seed, are now setting bud and will show bloom any day now.  These plants that will bloom soon come from plants that self-seeded from last year, have flowered and died throughout this summer and are continuing life.  The nectar flow does not stop until the honey flow stops.  If you need seed for next year, speak your mind.....I will help you out when I come to your great barbeque coming up in about 10 days.  Have the most beautiful and wonderful of these days.  Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2008, 01:58:18 AM »
Brian, grow the hyssops, perennials, yours forever until then....I am serious, I grow two species of these.  The mother hyssop provide a massive nectar source, the cuttings from the mother plants provide a later nectar source, this flow continues from July beginning to September beginning or longer.....hyssop is a massive nectar/pollen source for the bees, mostly all summer long, as does the phacelia tanacetifolia and borage, which self-seed all summer long, providing nectar and pollen in copious amounts.  I have masses of these two annuals that have set seed, are now setting bud and will show bloom any day now.  These plants that will bloom soon come from plants that self-seeded from last year, have flowered and died throughout this summer and are continuing life.  The nectar flow does not stop until the honey flow stops.  If you need seed for next year, speak your mind.....I will help you out when I come to your great barbeque coming up in about 10 days.  Have the most beautiful and wonderful of these days.  Cindi

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Offline Cindi

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Re: Thinking ahead to spring!
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2008, 03:09:52 PM »
Brian, I will bring down many types of seeds for you when we come down.  You need to tell me if you want specific ones, otherwise you are going get hit with so many it is gonna make your head swim, hee, hee.  I will bring down the ones that I think that you would like, hee, hee, that be:  I don't think there are any issues with bringing seeds or plants across the border at all.

borage
phacelia tanacetifolia
sea holly (does not bloom the first year, but a perennial thereafter)
hyssop:  I suggest the cultivar that I have, Blue Fortune, I will take some cuttings today and see if I can get them started for you.  I am not sure if cuttings will work this time of year, but I will give it an attempt.  They would have to be babied over the winter I think.  Hmmm.....thinking.  Maybe I will dig up one of the mother plants and divide it.  I will ponder this and figure out what I will do today with the plants, cuttings, digging, I think digging (just thinking aloud here).  Maybe I will just dig a mother plant, let you plant it for wintertime outside and then you can divide in spring, that may work better, thinking out loud again, oops!!!  If you don't want an established plant, tell me that, that would be important to know, I wouldn't want to tow it around with me in the back of the fifth wheel.

I will bring you seed of the "floppy" hyssop too, but I find the bees are far more attracted to the "bush" hyssop.  Have the most wonderful and awesomely great day, Cindi
There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service

 

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