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Thread: Bee lawns

  1. #1
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    Bee lawns

    So, I'm thinking about making my front lawn more bee friendly, honey bees in particular.

    Based on some University of Minnesota Bee Lab papers I'm going to start adding fine fescue grasses to my lawn along with some white clover.

    Here's some info for others thinking about making their lawns more bee friendly
    Bee Lawns | Bee Lab (umn.edu)

    Any other recommendations for low growing small flowering plants that would work in a lawn in the mid Atlantic area, or other suggestions

    fwiw there's a "Bee Lawn Mix" of seeds with fine fescues, clover and some other bee friendly plants, but it's a bit pricey, about$100 for 5lbs to cover !,000 sq ft
    Last edited by Mike Soaper; 04-01-2021 at 11:13 PM.

  2. #2
    First thing I would do is check local lawn-laws . If the grass can’t be over 3 inches it’s hard to keep bees happy. Some places allow, even
    encourage “meadow-lawns”.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Mel, Good idea about checking the local lawn laws. I think we'll be ok though, as we're zoned RLD, rural light density.

  4. #4
    Chamomile is good for your purpose, too.

  5. #5
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    University of Maryland has a list of flowering (native) plants that provide forage year 'round.

    I'm a little further North, in a similar climate - our two "Rose of Sharon" trees keeps the bees coming back.

    https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pa...humbutbee.aspx

  6. #6
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    Strongly recommend Doug Tallamy's book "Bringing Nature Home". He's an entomologist who has studied utilization of native vs non-native plants by insects. One of the fundamental findings is that introduced plants, even those that have been in North America for 400 years, are essentially unused by our native wildlife. An astonishing percentage of the plants we see around us, both in urban/suburban settings and in "the woods" are introduced, non-native plants. This wholesale conversion undermines the base of the food web, showing up most dramatically in the plunging number and diversity of native songbirds.

    The good news is that relatively modest measures, that anyone can do at home, can counter this trend. Reducing non-natives, including European turf grasses, to below 30% of the plant mass on your property will create an environment where the native insects and birds can prosper. His book contains lists of plants that will do the most good for the most critters. We've been introducing natives in our yard, in the last year we hit a tipping point. The number and diversity of insects has ballooned and the we easily doubled the number of successful nests in and around our meadow-- including three clutches of bluebirds with 17 fledglings. It's also really pretty, filled with flowers all summer long.

    He's an engaging writer and speaker, if you have a chance to hear him talk it's well worthwhile-- stunning slides!

  7. #7
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    Bees love dandelions because they are a terrific source of pollen.

  8. #8
    Growing up, there was a field behind our house that was a mix of grass and clover. I still remember it being full of honeybees when the clover was in bloom.

  9. #9
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    Back in the late 60's a company here named Root hired a crop duster to spread Dandelions people weren't to happy about that. Root was a supplier and manufacturer of bee equipment and also put out a magazine called Gleanings in bee keeping.

  10. #10
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    As the spouse of a beekeeper, I will tell you that there are many things that too many folks consider weeds that are important for "bee food". Dandelions, for example. So avoid any kind of "weed" control for that reason and just embrace diversity. Honeybees in particular are an interesting situation relative to foraging...they are not native to North America...so they go for some things that native bees avoid and vice versa. I will mention that there are actually some things that bees love to forage on that one has to be careful about because they can be invasive and hard to control. Mint variants are good examples. They are tasty and generally have pleasant purple blooms, but they can spread and take over an area very quickly, especially if moisture is higher than in some other areas. (we have an issue near our small fish pond off the patio for this reason)

    Here's a link that might be helpful:

    https://www.pollinator.org/guides?gc...RoC_q8QAvD_BwE
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    University of Maryland has a list of flowering (native) plants that provide forage year 'round.

    I'm a little further North, in a similar climate - our two "Rose of Sharon" trees keeps the bees coming back.
    They also attract an iridescent Japanese beetle, and the roots grow new plants all over the yard.
    We wish we had never planted that darned thing.

  12. #12
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    Mint smells nice when you mow the lawn. Lavender is easy to grow but too tall for a lawn. Lawn daises seem like they would attract bees.
    I just heard the Monarch butterflys are way down. They think part of it is European milkweed is being sold and planted by butterfly lovers. They will eat it but prefe rthe real stuff and the European version reduces their reproduction rate.
    Bill D

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Soaper View Post
    So, I'm thinking about making my front lawn more bee friendly, honey bees in particular....
    My honeybees heavily work clover in the lawn, orchard, pastures, and around the pastures. (And bees love dandelions but for some reason they aren't as welcome in yards!) Also good for bumblebees.

    Some varieties of clover grow very tall, tall enough to be harvested for hay and other uses. I don't know the variety we have or if it's the way I maintain it but if I mow often at 3-4" the clover produces a lot of flowers low to the ground. If I let it grow tall before mowing in the pastures all of the flowers are gone even if I mow to 6". I tend to leave large areas thick with clover unmowed during the nectar flow.

    I'm wondering about the usefulness of fescue for bees if mowed in lawns. The bees harvest pollen and nectar but if mowed short is there any of that. The fescue I'm familiar seems not to flower until it is at least a foot tall.

    Another thing about clover: if you control lawn weeds with broadleaf herbicide (weed and feed, etc) it may inhibit clover. It will generally not kill it completely so it will eventually come back. If particularly noxious weeds get started they may need to be removed by hand.

    BTW, the Golden Rain Tree is a tremendous bee attractor in the summer. The tree is considered an invasive and will spread but if in mown yard it won't spread. I have two and have estimated well over 2000 bees in the tree from dawn until dusk when blooming.

    BEE_golden_rain.jpg BEE_P6210931e.jpg] bee_goldenrain_P6230988ecSMALL.jpg BEE_P6210783ec2s.jpg

    (It's tricky to photograph bees in macro shots since everything is moving but having one tree close enough to shoot by standing on the deck and leaning against the railing made it simpler. I still had to take over 400 photos to get a few in focus with good backgrounds!)

    JKJ

  14. #14
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    Linden trees (aka basswood, lime tree in the UK) are also good for bees. Unfortunately we're having japanese beetle infestations and they love linden trees and are really damaging them. Our bee solution is to plant a corner of our yard in wildflower mixes for both bees and butterflies. Everyone else is spraying the heck out of their yards for fear of ticks and fleas, and its sad to think of the bees and fireflies being killed that way. Uncontrolled dandelions will get you a stern neighborly warning. And people spray for clover because they dont want their kids getting bee stings.

    Woodworking link: I'd like to hear if anybody has made solitary bee boxes using shop scraps. I keep meaning to, but don't get around to it.

  15. #15
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    John mentions clover...be aware that some clover varieties are preferred over other clover varieties for pollinators like honeybees.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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