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Clover pollination, what's the deal?

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I have been offered a 200ha clover seed block for pollination and I don't know anything when it comes to clover pollination by honey bees. From a quick google search I read the stocking rates are about 1-8 hives per hectare, that sounds like a lot? Their current beek is only running 8+ hives which seems far below the suggested rate.

 

So my questions are: What sort of hive density is required to pollinate a hectare of white clover for seed? How much of a honey crop could I expect for 200ha? Are clover crops useful to build up hives or nucs? Are any of the benefits worth me doing it for free?

 

Thanks heaps in advance!

 

:)

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A good clover flow does this to 5 frame nucs..........

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5992eb73914d2_Stackingthemup_290116.jpg.4fe061665c6d9cc114693aab2a40fc0a.jpg

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A good clover flow does this to 5 frame nucs..........

 

Nice! I figured at least it would be good for drawing foundation. I forgot to mention that I am thinking of this in the context of nuc production. However I would dedicate hives if the honey flow made it worth while?

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Sometimes I have found it frustrating building nucs on clover as they draw out foundation too fast and backfill them and all the laying space before the queen has even been on her mating flights.

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Sometimes I have found it frustrating building nucs on clover as they draw out foundation too fast and backfill them and all the laying space before the queen has even been on her mating flights.

 

This also happened to me with mating nucs on a good beech flow. Not only did it cram up the queen space, but the foragers burnt out in the process so there were very few bees left by the time she laid.

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A good clover flow does this to 5 frame nucs..........

Wow

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Clover pollination for seed is quite different from slapping a few hives down on a paddock for some clover honey. Google it and spend some time.

 

I've got some info on this somewhere...ill post it shortly

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In the 1970s to 1980s the ratio accepted was 1 hive per 5 acres to receive good pollination, so that would be about half a hive to 1 hectare. This depends on what you define a hive as! single queen or two queen, single or double broodnest. etc. Hives at that time of year I would expect to see three full boxes of bees when delivered to the crop.

 

Be aware that some cultivars do not provide a honey crop.

 

There has been a very steady decline in available nectar from seed clovers for the past twenty years. There is no way we can produce the product that was available in the 1960s to 1990s. It just is not there. Hence the pollination charges for these crops.

 

Several years back the Canterbury Branch of the NBA had a guest speaker from the Lincoln University who was developing these new clover cultivars. He told us that there was no 'requirement' for him to develop clovers that produced vast amounts of nectar. His brief was to produce clovers that developed high 'dry matter'. He did say that it would not be difficult to develop plants that were more acceptable to our requirements, but that never happened.

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I scrapped that 200ha pollination in favor of a 35ha block instead, which is far more in the scope of what I can do. This farmer requires 30 hives, running around 0.85 hives per hectare.

 

The farmer claims to have some of the highest seed yeild in Canterbury, but how much does this correlate with nectar production? He said previous beekeepers have produced around 50kg's of honey, talking to other beekeepers, some claim as little as 1 x 3/4 box on a bad year and 5 full depth boxes on a very good year.

 

Another interesting comment the farmer made is that he believes nectar yield comes more down to environmental conditions that the variety of clover.

 

One last thing, does anyone here have an understanding of the risks involved with the sprays they use typically on clover, should I be concerned? They claim to spray when they bees are not flying, but it's the chronic exposure of insecticides that I am worried about. I have not done my research on this yet but I suspect either the bees will be exposed through two routes, either from residues left on the flower directly or from the insectisides bioaccumulating in the pollen or nectar.

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The farmer is right. Nectar yield has more to do with environment, although if its irrigated and hot, the nectar will flow.

 

Insecticides on clover? Are you sure you don't mean herbicide?

As mentioned before, the surfactants are not bee friendly

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Rain for 24hrs once every two weeks, mid to high 20's temp during the day and warm humid nights really get the clover flowing.

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Uh huh .... Canterbury clover .... four days of Nor'west at Christmas and she's all over.

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Uh huh .... Canterbury clover .... four days of Nor'west at Christmas and she's all over.

After 4 days of that wind I can imagine it would turn its toes up pretty quickly.

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Uh huh .... Canterbury clover .... four days of Nor'west at Christmas and she's all over.

 

The clover paddocks are irrigated.

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@jamesc only gets that breeze after it's washed @kaihoka 's clover away ..

Nelson has had a lot more rain than us lately :)

 

 

@jamesc only gets that breeze after it's washed @kaihoka 's clover away ..

I think all this early rain is going to give us a great nectar flow this season

What do you think

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There are many different cultivars of clover. Not all produce nectar. Environment has no influence on this situation, it is the way the plant has been propagated. Usual focus has been on the available dry weight per hectare. In some cases farmers have applied Boron to the flowering crop as this has, sometimes, encouraged the plant to yield nectar. Unfortunately this has, on occasion, resulted in bee damage though burning the bees as the product was applied during daylight hours. The product was not seen as detrimental to bees. Nobody asked the bees!

We have had extensive experience with these different cultivars for 35 years, and have charged pollination fees as a result of nil nectar availability for the past 20 plus years.

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There are many different cultivars of clover. Not all produce nectar. Environment has no influence on this situation, it is the way the plant has been propagated. Usual focus has been on the available dry weight per hectare. In some cases farmers have applied Boron to the flowering crop as this has, sometimes, encouraged the plant to yield nectar. Unfortunately this has, on occasion, resulted in bee damage though burning the bees as the product was applied during daylight hours. The product was not seen as detrimental to bees. Nobody asked the bees!

We have had extensive experience with these different cultivars for 35 years, and have charged pollination fees as a result of nil nectar availability for the past 20 plus years.

Last season I watched a paddock of the best looking clover I'd ever seen.

It was 300-400mm tall with enormous flowers.

It was on a Dairy farm boundary and Id drive past it most working days.

I never saw a Bee on it.

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Toooo tall Philbee. We used to get the best honey off the overgrazed sheep country that had a couple of mm's of rain on it at Christmas and then popped out short little stubby flowers with little leaf. Stressed clover .... there's a moral there somewhere ?

We thought those big irritators were going to even up the honey flows. The reality is I think they knocked them on the head ... or was it the cows.

We got no honey at all off one yard in dairy country a few years ago.I used to call the area "The golden triangle" after that famous place in Thailand.

Our Romanian

bee keeper radioed in when he was down there feeding them ..."no bees Mr James".

On investigation the dairy cocky had put a new track through the bee yard and in the process had dug a big hole and buried the yard of twenty four.

The managers reasoning was that they had been in the way and time was short.

 

But yes you Windblown one .... it might be a good clover year. The country looks good, the rain keeps falling, the clover root weevil has moved on, the bees look absolutely AMAZING .... we are full of optimism so won't even talk about the world price.

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If some fields of clover don't produce nectar, what attracts the pollinating bees ?

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If some fields of clover don't produce nectar, what attracts the pollinating bees ?

Good question

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There are many different cultivars of clover........We have had extensive experience with these different cultivars for 35 years, and have charged pollination fees as a result of nil nectar availability for the past 20 plus years.

 

The cultivars are Merwi, Mainstay and Kakariki. Do you know about any of them?

 

At a quick glance, both Mainstay and Kakariki are large leaf clovers, which seem to put emphasis on dry matter. :(

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The cultivars are Merwi, Mainstay and Kakariki. Do you know about any of them?

 

At a quick glance, both Mainstay and Kakariki are large leaf clovers, which seem to put emphasis on dry matter. :(

Yep that would fit.

The Dairy farm on my boundary had the large leaf type and the Bees didn't touch it .

However a good dry stock farm site with traditional low level, small flower clover absolutely creamed it.

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The clover yield from irrigated pastors at least in Hawke's Bay is zero or so close to it it makes no difference. It seems crazy not to breed clover for honey production but if you look at it from the seed producers point of view if it is not attractive to bees then it won't be pollinated and will have to be replanted. You can have any amount of clover and if the conditions are wrong it just won't yield. Short and a bit on the dry side seems to be the answer but I have seen it yield really well in a very wet season and then 10 mm more and that was it for the year.

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