White Sweet Clover Questions

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Steve, May 26, 2004.

  1. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    My wife and I are brand new beekeepers and are in the process of establishing two package bee colonies (was three, but one swarmed).

    We have a couple acres of pasture area around the hives that we're thinking about seeding in white sweet clover next year. Here's the extent of what we know or have heard about white sweet clover:

    1. White sweet clover is a biennial.

    2. In the middle midwest you seed it in March.

    3. It blooms the first year. This is the honey producing year.

    4. It produces seed the second year then dies off . No honey the second year.


    Here's our questions:

    1. Are we misunderstanding anything above?

    2. Does it reseed itself each year thereafter?

    3. How do you establish a new white clover field that produces blooms and nectar for the bees every year?

    4. Can you just broadcast the seed on the ground or does it have to be "drilled"?

    5. Do you seed anything else with the white clover?

    6. Do you need to fertilize it? If so, what are you suppose to use?


    Any help and advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    clover has to bloom to produce seed.
     

  3. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    You might ask this on the gardening forum also, alot of people plant clover as a cover crop. I have planted red, but not white.
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Are you asking about white sweet clover, a tall plant, as opposed to white dutch clover, which is short?

    I have HEARD that white sweet clover will bloom and set seed the first year, while yellow sweet clover won't bloom and set seed until it is 2 years old.

    I have never grown it, I am just CONSIDERING growing it! :p
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Terri, I don't know which plant I'm supposed to use. I only know that white clover honey is supposed to be the premium light honey. As opposed to say buckwheat honey which is dark and has a strong flavor.
     
  6. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    you could also overseed with alfalfa that makes a great honey
     
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    A professional beekeeper once wrote that the finest honey was whatever honey the customer had while growing up. Apparently the tastebuds have a long memory.

    Professional honey buyers want a light honey, but I prefer a darker one myself. It has more flavor. It ALSO makes better whole-wheat honey bread.

    Spring honey in the midwest in general has a lighter, milder honey than fall honey, which is often made from asters and soybeans.

    Clover honey, alfalfa honey, orange blossom honey, and (I am told) sweet clover honey are ALL popular, and tend to be light.

    I tried eucalyptus honey once. TERRIBLE stuff. Tastes like cough drops. I don't like blueberry honey either, though it is VERY popular in New England I am told.
     
  8. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Steve,

    I'll take a crack at answering your questions below. I live in western PA and planted white dutch clover (low growing)

    Here's our questions:

    1. Are we misunderstanding anything above?

    Not that I can see

    2. Does it reseed itself each year thereafter?

    White dutch does

    3. How do you establish a new white clover field that produces blooms and nectar for the bees every year?

    Around here the clover reseeds itself annually. I assume if you're starting it initially if you just planted it for two years in a row it would plant itself thereafter

    4. Can you just broadcast the seed on the ground or does it have to be "drilled"?

    The usual advice around here is to "frost seed" it meaning to broad cast it over frosted ground on a cold March morning. When the frost melts and the ground heaves the seed will work it's way into the soil. The seed is small but a little goes a long way. Check package directions for coverage but I think you'll be surprised how little seed it takes

    5. Do you seed anything else with the white clover?

    You don't have to seed it with anything else but I suppose if you were starting from a fine seed bed some kind of "nurse crop" might be good. I frost seeded it into existing grass. The grass shouldn't be too high though or the clover will get "outcompeted" for light

    6. Do you need to fertilize it? If so, what are you suppose to use?

    No fertilizer should be necessary under normal circumstances. Clover is a legume which can draw nitrogen from the air if a proper bacteria is present in the soil or the plants roots. An innoculant (of that bacteria) can be purchased where clover seed is sold. Its a fine brown poweder that can be dusted on slightly moistened seed before sowing.

    Clover does benifit from calcium (lime or gypsum) if you have a low pH (Acidic) soil

    Any help and advice will be greatly appreciated.[/QUOTE]
     
  9. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    We planted white dutch clover two years ago. This year it is so thick that our mower is having trouble cutting it! It took over a month to sprout and most of the season to grow in, but it just gets thicker and spreads every year. We don't have bees right now, but we did have them in mind when we planted white dutch clover in our young orchard. Perhaps some day we will get a hive and get even more use out of our clover patch. I love our white dutch clover and would highly recommend it for durablity, lots of huge flowers, and reseeding ability. I can see that it could be a real nusance in a pasture as it might reseed to the point of being invasive. I don't know about honey bees, but our bumblebees sure seem to love it. Thanks to them we have loads of apples this year.
    OH- it was easy to plant too. We just added inocculant and broadcast in the spring.