Pasturage





Some blossoms yield only pollen, and others only honey; but by far the

largest number, both honey and pollen. Since the discovery that rye

flour will answer so admirably as a substitute, before the bees are able

to gather the pollen from the flowers, early blossoms producing pollen

alone, are not so important in the vicinity of an Apiary. Willows are

among the most desirable trees to have within reach of the bees: some

kinds of willow put out their catkins very early, and yield an

abundance of both bee-bread and honey. All the willows furnish an

abundance of food for the bees; and as there is considerable difference

in the time of their blossoming, it is desirable to have such varieties

as will furnish the bees with food, as long as possible.



The Sugar Maple furnishes a large supply of very delicious honey, and

its blossoms hanging in drooping fringes, will be all alive with bees.

The Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry are much frequented by the bees;

Pears and Apples furnish very copious supplies of the richest honey. The

Tulip tree, _Liriodendron_, is probably one of the greatest

honey-producing trees in the world. In rich lands this magnificent tree

will grow over one hundred feet high, and when covered with its large

bell-shaped blossoms of mingled green and golden yellow, it is one of

the most beautiful trees in the world. The blossoms are expanding in

succession, often for more than two weeks, and a new swarm will

frequently fill its hive from these trees alone. The honey though dark

in color, is of a rich flavor. This tree has been successfully

cultivated as a shade tree, even as far North as Southern Vermont, and

for the extraordinary beauty of its foliage and blossoms, deserves to be

introduced wherever it can be made to grow. The Winter of 1851-2, was

exceedingly cold, the thermometer in Greenfield, Mass. sinking as low as

30 deg. below zero, and yet a tulip tree not only survived the Winter

uninjured, but was covered the following season with blossoms.



The American Linden or Bass Wood, is another tree which yields large

supplies of very pure and white honey. It is one of our most beautiful

native trees, and ought to be planted much more extensively than it is,

in our villages and country seats. The English Linden is worthless for

bees, and in many places, has been so infested by worms, as to make it

necessary to cut it down.



The Linden blossoms soon after the white clover begins to fail, and a

majestic tree covered with its yellow clusters, at a season when very

few blossoms are to be seen, is a sight most beautiful and refreshing.



"Here their delicious task, the fervent bees

In swarming millions tend: around, athwart,

Through the soft air the busy nations fly,

Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube,

Suck its pure essence, its etherial soul."

_Thomson._



Our villages would be much more attractive, if instead of being filled

as they often are, almost exclusively with maples and elms, they were

adorned with a greater variety of our native trees. The remark has often

been made, that these trees are much more highly valued abroad than at

home, and that to see them in perfection, we must either visit their

native forests, or the pleasure grounds of some wealthy English or

European gentleman.



Of all the various sources from which the bees derive their supplies,

white clover is the most important. It yields large quantities of very

white honey, and of the purest quality, and wherever it flourishes in

abundance, the honey-bee will always gather a rich harvest. In this

country at least, it seems to be the most certain reliance of the

Apiary. It blossoms at a season of the year when the weather is usually

both dry and hot, and the bees gather the honey from it, after the sun

has dried off the dew: so that its juices are very thick, and almost

ready to be sealed over at once in the cells.



Every observant bee-keeper must have noticed, that in some seasons, the

blossoms of various kinds yield much less honey than in others. Perhaps

no plant varies so little in this respect, as the white clover. This

clover ought to be much more extensively cultivated than it now is, and

I consider myself as conferring a benefit not only on bee-keepers, but

on the agricultural community at large, in being able to state on the

authority of one of New England's ablest practical farmers, and writers

on agricultural subjects, Hon. Frederick Holbrook, of Brattleboro',

Vermont, that the common white clover may be cultivated on some soils to

very great profit, as a hay crop. In an article for the New England

Farmer, for May, 1853, he speaks as follows:--



"The more general sowing of white clover-seed is confidently

recommended. If land is in good heart at the time of stocking it to

grass, white clover sown with the other grass-seeds will thicken up the

bottom of mowings, growing some eight or ten inches high and in a thick

mat, and the burden of hay will prove much heavier than it seemed likely

to be before mowing. Soon after the practice of sowing white clover on

the tillage-fields commences, the plant will begin to show itself in

various places on the farm, and ultimately gets pretty well scattered

over the pastures, as it seeds very profusely, and the seeds are carried

from place to place in the manure and otherwise. The price of the seed

per pound in market is high; but then one pound of it will seed more

land, than two pounds of red clover seed; so that in fact the former is

the cheaper seed of the two, for an acre."



"Red-top, red clover and white clover seeds, sown together, produce a

quality of hay universally relished by stock. My practice is, to seed

all dry, sandy and gravelly lands with this mixture. The red and white

clover pretty much make the crop the first year; the second year, the

red clover begins to disappear, and the red-top to take its place; and

after that, the red-top and white clover have full possession and make

the very best hay for horses or oxen, milch cows or young stock, that I

have been able to produce. The crop per acre, as compared with

herds-grass, is not so bulky; but tested by weight and by spending

quality in the Winter, it is much the most valuable."



"Herds-grass hay grown on moist uplands or reclaimed meadows, and swamps

of a mucky soil, or lands not overcharged with silica, is of good

quality; but when grown on sandy and gravelly soils abounding in silex,

the stalks are hard, wiry, coated with silicates as with glass, and

neither horses nor cattle will eat it as well, or thrive as well on it

as on hay made of red-top and clover; and as for milch cows, they winter

badly on it, and do not give out the milk as when fed on softer and more

succulent hay."



By managing white clover, according to Mr. Holbrook's plan, it might be

made to blossom abundantly in the second crop, and thus lengthen out, to

very great advantage, the pasture for the bees. For fear that any of my

readers might suspect Mr. Holbrook of looking at the white clover,

through a pair of _bee-spectacles_, I would add that although he has ten

acres of it in mowing, he has no bees, and has never particularly

interested himself in this branch of rural economy. When we can succeed

in directing the attention of such men to bee-culture, we may hope to

see as rapid an advance in this as in some other important branches of

agriculture.



Sweet-scented clover, (_Mellilotus Leucantha_,) affords a rich

bee-pasturage. It blossoms the second year from the seed, and grows to a

great height, and is always swarming with bees until quite late in the

Fall. Attempts have been made to cultivate it for the sake of its value

as a hay crop, but it has been found too coarse in its texture, to be

very profitable. Where many bees are kept, it might however, be so

valuable for them as to justify its extensive cultivation. During the

early part of the season, it might be mowed and fed to the cattle, in a

green and tender state, and allowed to blossom later in the season,

when the bees can find but few sources to gather from.



For years, I have attempted to procure, through botanists, a hybrid or

cross between the red and white clover, in order to get something with

the rich honey-producing properties of the red, and yet with a short

blossom into which the honey-bee might insert its proboscis. The red

clover produces a vast amount of food for the bumble-bee, but is of no

use at all to the honey-bee. I had hoped to procure a variety which

might answer all the purposes of our farmers as a field crop. Quite

recently I have ascertained that such a hybrid has been originated in

Sweden, and has been imported into this country, by Mr. B. C. Rogers, of

Philadelphia. It grows even taller than the red clover, bears many

blossoms on a stalk which are small, resembling the white, and is said

to be preferred by cattle, to any other kind of grass, while it answers

admirably for bees.



Buckwheat furnishes a most excellent Fall feed for bees; the honey is

not so well-flavored as some other kinds, but it comes at a season when

it is highly important to the bees, and they are often able to fill

their hives with a generous supply against Winter. Buckwheat honey is

gathered when the dew is upon the blossoms, and instead of being thick,

like white clover honey, is often quite thin; the bees sweat out a large

portion of its moisture, but still they do not exhaust the whole of it,

and in wet seasons especially, it is liable to sour in the cells. Honey

gathered in a dry season, is always thicker, and of course more valuable

than that gathered in a wet one, as it contains much less water.

Buckwheat is uncertain in its honey-bearing qualities; in some seasons,

it yields next to none, and hardly a bee will be seen upon a large

field, while in others, it furnishes an extraordinary supply. The most

practical and scientific agriculturists agree that so far from being an

impoverishing crop, it is on many soils, one of the most profitable that

can be raised. Every bee-keeper should have some in the vicinity of his

hives.



The raspberry, it is well known, is a great favorite with the bees; and

the honey supplied by it, is very delicious. Those parts of New England,

which are hilly and rough, are often covered with the wild raspberry,

and would furnish food for numerous colonies of bees.



It will be observed that thus far, I have said nothing about cultivating

flowers in the garden, to supply the bees with food. What can be done in

this way, is of scarcely any account; and it would be almost as

reasonable to expect to furnish food for a stock of cattle, from a small

grass plat, as honey for bees, from garden plants. The cultivation of

bee-flowers is more a matter of pleasure than profit, to those who like

to hear the happy hum of the busy bees, as they walk in their gardens.

It hardly seems expedient, at least for the present, to cultivate any

field crops except such as are profitable in themselves, without any

reference to the bees.



Mignonnette is excellent for bees, but of all flowers, none seems to

equal the Borage. It blossoms in June, and continues in bloom until

severe frost, and is always covered with bees, even in dull weather, as

its pendant blossoms keep the honey from the moisture; the honey yielded

by it, is of a very superior quality. If any plant which does not in

itself make a valuable crop, would justify cultivation, there is no

doubt that borage would. An acre of it would support a large number of

stocks. If in a village those who keep bees would unite together and

secure the sowing of an acre, in their immediate vicinity, each person

paying in proportion to the number of stocks kept, it might be found

profitable. The plants should have about two feet of space every way,

and after they covered the ground, would need no further attention. They

would come into full blossom, cultivated in this manner, about the time

that the white clover begins to fail, and would not only furnish rich

pasture for the bees, but would keep them from the groceries and shops

in which so many perish.



If those who are engaged in adorning our villages and country residences

with shade trees, would be careful to set out a liberal allowance of

such kinds as are not only beautiful to us, but attractive to the bees,

in process of time the honey resources of the country might be very

greatly increased.





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