The joys of crimson clover — for us and the honeybees

Crimson clover produces a long, beautiful bloom that is full of nectar for the bees.Crimson clover, a plant that honeybees love,  produces a long, beautiful bloom that is full of nectar for the bees. In our garden, we planted several patches a number of years ago.

The clover re-seeds itself and grows in abundance.

If all goes well, here’s what will happen if you plant the clover in September as recommended:

The clover seed will germinate and sprout fairly quickly (especially if we get rain). The clover will grow at a reasonable speed this fall so that where we have planted it, the ground will be covered in a deep, dark green. The plants will maintain this color after the fall frosts and through the winter. When warmer temperatures begin to creep in next February and March, the clover will start to grow in height.

By early April, we will begin to see some blooms sprouting. Usually, in the second or third week of April (sometimes earlier), the long, deep-red blooms will appear.

The next thing you see will be the honeybees, and they will be everywhere.

Bees love this stuff. They make a very light, very sweet honey out of it. One year, the crimson clover was so abundant that we used up all our equipment and had to do an early extraction (late May) in order to free up the equipment to store more honey.

The blooms last two to three weeks.

Once they are gone, we cut the clover and use it for straw elsewhere in our garden. Or, we gather it up, store it in the barn and spread it on our planting the next September.

Crimson clover has become part of the routine we have to maintain a good environment and nutritious diet for the bees.

We’ll be posting more about crimson clover later this month.

Here’s what the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education site has to say about crimson clover.

And here’s a video of some early spring foraging by some of our bees. It won’t be hard to spot the crimson clover. There’s also some white clover in the mix.

 

Bees in Action from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

 

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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