D. Young wrote:What is Lonicera?
I have a vague recollection of reading/hearing that a 4 ft by 4ft patch of a specific coloured flower or plant patch had a greater chance of attracting a bee's attention than something smaller. Any comments on that anyone??
Lonicera seems to be the only thing that flowers here in july
Michael Cox wrote:I'll have a stab at this, but you may not like the answer...
Bees forage over an area of between 3 and 5 miles in radius. Area is approx 75 square miles... around 20,000 hectares. Unless your planting is making a sizeable impact when compared to this scale the benefits to a hive are going to be marginal. Perhaps with the exception of moderate planting that fulfil a specific fodder need for the bees at critical times of year.
Far more important from the bees point of view is being situated in a diverse and productive environment on much broader scales than single plantings. One of the factors that has been linked to the decline of bees is large areas of monocrop agriculture (far large than were seen historically) leaving bees with no forage for portions of the year.
If I were thinking about planting specifically for bees I would survey the surrounding area and try to get an feeling for what species are already represented and some idea of when in the year there may be a hungry gap (a period with a short fall in nectar flow). Then I would look at how to incorporate species at provide nectar and pollen over that specific period, but also provide other yields for me (eg trees provide fodder and fuel wood, crops that provide fruit or seeds, nitrogen fixers that support the whole food web, flowers for cutting eg lavender).
I don't want to discourage from planting with bees in mind, but think that a broader scale view would be more beneficial to the bees.
Michael Cox wrote:july... that is southern hemisphere winter right? Are your bees even flying then or are they dormant? Ours would be essentially dormant at the equivalent time of year. During dormancy they rely on winter stores of honey rather than foraging nectar. If your bees are starving through winter perhaps you are harvesting too heavily in Autumn?
Spring harvesting can be effective, once you know the bees have made it through and are bringing in fresh nectar from the spring flows.