Michael, thank you! Really... two miles???? Since this is mountain wooded country, I doubt I'll be able to plant a whole lot of sun loving ground stuff... but if I could probably manage to plant some of the things that you mentioned, thanks!
I hear what you're saying about not getting hung up on what they forage, but to offer something in the colder season if possible. Okay, I surrender control ; the honey will 'be what it wants to be' . I am not going to be able to have Oregon Blackberry blossom honey if I tried... heh, heh. I get it.
In the west mountains of Napa Valley California, we are in a zone 14/15 , a long growing season area, so I think there really is a very short time that there's no food --one month probably, maybe two. I noticed , in fact, that the manzanitas (dense hardwood shrubs all over the place) are ALREADY blooming their fragrant little bell shaped flowers! In early February, the wild plums will explode in bloom (use to be prune orchard in this area, so there are thousands of volunteer plums around). Then, there are several hundreds of acres of vineyard within 3 miles, for sure. The thousands of madrone trees blossom in about April I think. I mean, with the natives alone, plus all the wild mustard which comes in Feb in the vineyards, I didn't really think this winter/early spring will starve the bees, but I will look into planting some for the earliest possible months.
One question still left hanging. I am trying to 'design' my fenced in garden area, and am not sure how close I should put the bees to the house/garden. What is usually done? We have 10 acres, mostly dense woods, but there are some cleared areas which have more openess ; around the house, and on a steep slope about 500 yards away. I have read that they might like to have their hives in the cover of the trees, but that can create problems too?
I have so much to learn, and I don't mean to exploit the forum in leu of research, but it sure helps to have some cameraderie right off the bat. I so much appreciate it.