Planting Clover To Attract Honey Bees

There are all kinds of reasons to plant all kinds of food plots for all kinds of wildlife. But planting clover for honey bees was a new one, even for us.

This property owner in southeast Kansas has a friend with a few beehives nearby. So, we’re helping him with an experiment by seeding a plot that’s about 1/3 of an acre in Crimson Clover to see if it can attract honey bees and have a positive impact on honey production. If it does, a much larger project to plant clover for honey bees could be in his future.

The equipment package.

For this project, we’re using a Frontier CP1172 Cultipacker (US CA), along with a GS1160 Overseeder (US CA) and a John Deere 3039R Compact Utility Tractor (US CA). And because the overseeder has a dry weight of 861 pounds (390.5 kg), we’ve added 12, 70-pound (31.8 kg) suitcase weights to the front of our tractor for ballast.

We also added an iMatchTM Quick Hitch to our tractor, so hooking up both the cultipacker and the overseeder will be so easy because you never have to get off the tractor to hook up compatible 3-point implements. Josh will just focus on the top hook, and everything else always falls into place. Then he’ll close the locking levers, and he’s ready to get to work.

Getting started.

We ran over this plot earlier with a disk harrow several times, which typically leaves lots of clods and clumps and crevices that small seeds can fall into. They end up getting buried too deep, and never germinate.

So Josh will go over it with the cultipacker to smooth and firm the soil surface and create a really good seedbed. And just in case, we added a scraper kit to the cultipacker to help keep it’s cleats free of any mud or other debris left over from disking.

The overseeder we’re using is a ground driven machine with power delivered to the 3 seed boxes when the rear spiked roller is in contact with the ground and moving forward.

Each seed box is designed to handle a different type of seed – one for large seeds, like soybeans; another for small seeds, like legumes; and one for long, fluffy seeds like native prairie grass. The Crimson Clover we’ll be using to attract honey bees is a pretty small seed, so we’ll be using the legume seed box for this project.

How much seed is enough?

How much seed we should use per acre depends on a variety of factors including seed size and the type of seeding equipment we’re using. This overseeder has a handy calibration chart inside the primary seed box that tells us where to set the seed dispersal rate based on those factors.

A calibration tray also allows us to capture seed before we start so we can weigh it and make sure we’ve set the pounds per acre dispersal rate correctly.

Now it’s time to seed.

At a speed of about 7 miles per hour (11.3 km/h), it will take Josh about 45 minutes to seed this patch. Then he’ll go back over it with the cultipacker to make sure we have really good seed-to-soil contact.

And once he’s done, if we can just get some rain, we’ll have set the table for a honey bee buffet.

Frontier has nearly 600 implements that are available only from your John Deere dealer, the place to go for advice and equipment.

So remember, for implements that help turn your tractor into the workhorse it was built to be, think Frontier and your John Deere dealer

And lastly, always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.


Helpful Links:

Frontier Tillage Equipment (US CA)

Frontier Seeding Equipment (US CA)

Frontier Cultipackers (US CA)

Frontier Overseeders (US CA)

John Deere Tractors (US CA)

All Gardening Tips

How To Plant A Food Plot

How To Plant A Wildflower Meadow

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