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Author Topic: Accidental Sunflower  (Read 2368 times)
Lone
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« on: September 18, 2009, 11:28:42 PM »

Hello,

I'll tell you the story behind my accidental sunflower.  I use mixed grain to feed the chooks: sunflower, sorghum, wheat and cracked corn.  It was time to replant the lucerne patch (also for the chooks), so finally I found somewhere that would sell just one kg of lucerne seed, and we used chook manure from the cages to renew the soil.  As the lucerne grew, so too did about 30 weeds, so I pulled out 29 and kept one to identify it.  It was a sunflower.  The odd thing was, wheat grew up in one small garden bed which also contained chook yard soil, and sorgum separately in another.  I am now waiting to find a patch of cracked corn growing.  Somehow the "mixed" grain became "separate" grain!

Anyway, I see a heap of bees licking that single sunflower, so now I am going to plant sunflower seeds all over the garden.  In this climate, I'm thinking they might grow all year round.  So my question is, are sunflowers a good thing to plant for bees?  Do they make good honey?  Do they contain good amounts of pollen?  How long does a sunflower plant last?

Lone
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poka-bee
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 10:25:16 PM »

The ones around here will stay till the hard frost if you keep deadheading the flowers.  I don't know about warmer climates but I bet they will go a long long time with water, good soil & cutting them back every once in a while. The bees love em and there is much pollen.  The farm I work at has a huge patch & I know I've seen Sean Kelly's bees working hard & covered with pollen. (he lives about 1/2 mile from the farm) Will have to ask him how the honey is! They are also all over the thyme, oregano, marjoram, lavender, catmint & anise hyssop. 
Jody
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asprince
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2009, 07:14:11 AM »

I have my bees on 300 acres of sunflowers. They are packing in nectar and pollen like mad. The honey is very light.


Steve 
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Lone
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2009, 07:31:49 AM »

That's great, Jody.  Maybe Sean can give you a spoonful and you can try it for yourself  Smiley  I planted a few seeds and I think they are starting to come up.  It's good to know the bees are in the lavendar too because I put 5 plants in recently and maybe if I can keep them alive for a whole year, I'll see if the bees like them next Winter.  What sort of farm do you work at?  It sounds like a nice place.

Steve, I reckon if I planted 300 acres of sunflowers we'd get 30 thousand cockatoos and galahs too!  Do you have a photo of all those sunflowers?  It must be quite a sight.

Lone
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asprince
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2009, 07:41:25 PM »

Lone, Yes it is quite a site, all those flower "faces" all facing the same direction. No I do not have a picture, but this field is almost finished blooming and I will be moving my hives this weekend to a new field that is just starting to bloom. I will try to remember to snap and post a picture.

Steve
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reinbeau
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2009, 08:46:52 PM »

Sunflowers are annuals, once they set seed, they'll die, but in a warm climate they'll just drop seed and sprout, to start anew, I would imagine.
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Lone
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2009, 09:33:26 PM »

Thanks Reinbeau, I'll see if I can beat the cockies to the seeds to recycle them to the chooks, too.

Lone
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asprince
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2009, 12:48:18 PM »

Moved my bees to some new sunflower fields this morning. He are a few photos I snapped with my camera phone.



This field is just starting to bloom. It will be in full bloom next week.





This field is in full bloom.



A close up with one a bee at work.


Steve



 
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2009, 10:24:00 AM »

Bees love the sunflowers.  I have many areas on our property that have sunflowers that self-seed and grow every year all on their own.  They are covered in bees all the time. Between the copious amounts of nectar of the sunflowers (and pollen too) and the Anise Hyssop, the honey is of a medium dark colour and has the most delicious almost spicy taste.  One of the nicest honeys that I have ever tasted, my clients attest to this.  No honey this year to give away, but next year will be a bounty I know that for sure.  Have that most wonderful and beautiful day, greatest of health.  Cindi

 

Anise Hyssop and Sunflowers


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Lone
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2009, 04:13:49 AM »

Hello,

What nice pictures those are, Steve and Cindi.  Thanks for posting them.  I wonder if you have darker honey because of the anise hyssop, Cindi, whatever that is (you had better not tell me - there was another trip to the plant nursery today).  Some little sunflower plants are coming up, but I'm trying to plant them at different times.  I ended up buying a bad of seeds.  They are pretty cheap.  The bag contains black sunflower and grey stripe sunflower.  Is there a preference as to variety, or should I wait and see? 

I don't recall seeing paddocks of sunflower here, but I suppose there must be some commerical growers.

Lone
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Cindi
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2009, 10:45:43 AM »

Lone, plant both sunflower types, the black oil and striped seeds, both make for some beautiful flowers.  The striped ones will make an enormous big flower head, quite often with only one flower head, the others will make the plants that have many, many smaller heads.  The striped ones make a very massively tall and big plant, some cultivars of the striped ones are particularly big, like the Russian Mammoth.  Both these cultivars thrive on my property.  I'll show you a picture of one of the striped ones that was like the story of Jack and the beanstalk, it was a mutant I am sure, smiling.  This was an unusually large specimen, but that gives an idea of the size of how some of them can grow, depends on nutrients and weather of course....My Husband you see in the picture is 6'2" tall.  Have a most wonderfully awesome and beautiful day, health.  Cindi


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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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