Source: MICHIGAN STATE UNIV submitted to
DEVELOPMENT OF BEE FORAGE SYSTEMS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0174219
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
MICL01826
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jan 1, 2002
Project End Date
Dec 31, 2006
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Ayers, G.
Recipient Organization
MICHIGAN STATE UNIV
(N/A)
EAST LANSING,MI 48824
Performing Department
ENTOMOLOGY
Non Technical Summary
Honey bee forage is dwindling. They are an important pollinator for agriculture. The PI hopes that his work might 1. help disband the concept prisons that he believes impede sustainable agriculture's development and 2. provide insight into alternative agricultural technological styles for those who would wish to pursue them.
Animal Health Component
100%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
100%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
20530991130100%
Goals / Objectives
Objectives The ultimate objective of this project is to develop multifunctional bee foraging systems that: 1. could serve as diversionary plantings and divert bees away from agricultural areas where they would be at high risk from pesticide poisoning. 2. would serve as a sustainable sugar production system which would have few external costs, but would instead benefit the surrounding area as a result of pollination and the providing of resources for biological control agents.
Project Methods
Experimental procedures The project described above involves five stages: 1. Identification of exceptional bee forage species 2. Development of niche requirements of the candidate species 3. Establishment of a prototype bee forage system by placing identified exceptional bee forage specimens into appropriate niches 4. Replacement of specimens that appear not to be functioning appropriately within the system 5. Evaluation

Progress 01/01/02 to 12/31/06

Outputs
The health of the beekeeping industry depends on adequate bee forage. Without adequate quality forage the colonies will suffer, honey production will decline, and the beekeeping industry will deteriorate under the pressure of diminished revenues. Over the years the amount of quality bee forage in the U.S. has declined significantly. In addition, literature written for beekeepers about bee forage has declined with the decline of the bee forage itself. The last book on the topic was Frank Pellett's American Honey Plants, which was essentially last edited in 1947. Beekeepers are less informed about this topic than they were a hundred years ago. Over the past approximately 20 years the PI and coworkers have researched practical aspects pertaining to the topic of bee forage. In the late 1980s an encapsulated formulation of methyl parathion caused large bee mortalities in agricultural areas where it was used. We designed, tested and demonstrated the feasibility of planting diversionary plantings of super-attractive bee forages to divert bees from areas that put them at risk from pesticides. To identify the necessary attractive plants for diversionary plantings as well as to increase honey production, we screened numerous plants for their attractiveness to bees. As part of this screening program, we demonstrated that a collection of the genus Tilia, which has a good reputation for nectar production throughout the world, could be assembled that would provide quality bee forage from mid June into September. One of the potential ways that the American beekeepers could increase their incomes would be to produce specialty honeys. Unifloral honey production is quite important to the beekeeping industry in some parts of the world. In the U.S., however, there are no standards for defining unifloral honeys. We developed a method for securing pure honeys to definitively determine the properties of the honey produced by some of the better bee forages we had identified in our bee forage screening program. In addition, the techniques developed could also produce definitively unifloral honeys that could serve as standards for an industry based on unifloral honey production. For 16 years the PI has published a column entitled The Other Side Of Beekeeping in The American Beekeeping Journal dedicated to the topic of bee forage. Over that period he has discussed the topics described above as well as other strategies involving bee forage that could be used by beekeepers to increase their profits. Finally, as the PI approached retirement, he began to prepare a book on the bee forage of North America. Because the last book of this type was essentially last edited in 1947 and has long been out of print, he is making this material immediately available in his column with the intent of eventually compiling it into a book for beekeepers and others interested in using nectar producing plants to design novel agricultural systems, not only for sustainable sugar production, but also to provide food, shelter and habitat for biological control agents that might be used in other future sustainable agricultural systems.

Impacts
When quality bee forage was much more plentiful than it is today, the beekeeping industry adopted the opinion that it was not profitable to plant for bees. Despite the many changes that have taken place in the availability of bee forage, this belief is still unquestioned. In addition, for approximately the last 20 years the primary emphasis in beekeeping has been on controlling two species of parasitic mites. Under the current deeply imbedded beliefs and concerns of the industry, it has not been easy to broker change. The PI can provide only anecdotal evidence that change has resulted from his efforts. Some beekeepers have made bee forage plantings. The Editor of the American Bee Journal and the PI receive positive comments about the PI's column. The current column articles and anticipated book are designed for a diverse group of beekeepers including those who want to plant for increasing honey production, want to create a diversionary planting, want to plant bee forage to improve the flavor of their honey, are interested in identifying bee forage species to establishing apiaries in productive sites, or simply want to plant a bee forage flower garden. The research and writings described above are designed to help alleviate the 60 year dearth of information about bee forage and should help ensure the health of the beekeeping industry. A healthy beekeeping industry will benefit other sectors of agriculture because of the pollination it provides. These materials will also be useful to those designing agroecosystems for native pollinators and biological control agents.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Bignoniaceae The Bignonia or Trumpet-Creeper Family. American Bee Journal 146: 53-58.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. An Important Group of Southern Honey Plants-The Palms. American Bee Journal 146: 147-152.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. Some More Native Honey-Producing Palms. American Bee Journal 146: 252-254.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. More Asteraceae. A Continuation of October 2005. American Bee Journal 146: 349-353.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Scrophulariaceae-A Family with some Interesting Apicultural History. American Bee Journal 146: 439-444.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Verbenaceae-The Verbena Family. A Family with Some Historically Important and Interesting Honey Plants. American Bee Journal 146: 531-536.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. Some Woody Legume Honey Plants. American Bee Journal 146: 603-609.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Red Clover Controversy-Do Honey Bees Make Honey Crops From This Source. American Bee Journal 146: 689-693.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. Two More Clovers. A Continuation of August 2006. American Bee Journal 146: 775-779.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Anacardiaceae-The Cashew Family, Some of the Toxic Ones. American Bee Journal 146: 853-857.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. Some More Members of the Anacardiaceae-Some of the Nontoxic members. American Bee Journal 146: 963-967.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2006. The Asclepiadaceae-The Milkweed Family. American Bee Journal 146:1051-1054.


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
Less than one year away from retirement, the PI is making knowledge derived from over 20 years of bee forage research and experience available to the American beekeepers by writing a book dealing with the bee forage of North America. While the estimated completion date of this work is 2012, the PI has reached an agreement with the American Bee Journal that allowed him to start publishing this material in 2004 in his column, The Other Side of Beekeeping. Information and photos for these publications are derived from literature searches, the research of the PI, and frequent visits to botanical gardens, arboreta and wild and unmanaged habits throughout the U. S. During 2004 the American Bee Journal and the PI experimented with subject matter and format and asked readers of these publications to comment about what they would like to see in future articles as well as in the eventual book. This they have done, and the PI has tried to accommodate their wishes. In the event that the final book never is written, each article covers plants of a particular family so that for beekeepers who do not retain their journals for long periods, the articles can be removed and placed in a notebook sorted by family rather than as an assemblage of unrelated plants. In addition to make this information available to as wide a range of beekeepers as possible, a slightly abbreviated version of the journal articles are also being made available on the website: plants.bees.net.

Impacts
The current journal articles, as well as the future book, are intended for a diverse group of beekeepers and include beekeepers who: want to plant for increasing honey production, want to create a diversionary planting to reduce pesticide-related bee mortality, want to plant for changing the flavor of their honey, are interested in identifying bee forage species for the purpose of establishing apiaries in productive sites or simply want to plant a bee forage flowerbed. The last book written on the bee forage of North America was American Honey Plants by Frank Pellett, which was last printed in 1976, but was essentially last edited in 1947. During the intervening nearly 60 years a great deal has changed with the North American bee forage situation and our knowledge of the plants involved. The current writings and the eventual book will fill in important void in the beekeeping world, and will indirectly benefit many of the other North American agricultural production systems. These materials will also be useful to those designing agroecosystems for native pollinators and biological control agents.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Some More Mints.American Bee Journal 145:123-128.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. The Aceraceae-The Maple Family. American Bee Journal 145: 217-221.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. The Willows-A Delight of Spring. American Bee Journal 145: 322-325.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Beginning the Rose Family-An Important Group of Honey Plants. American Bee Journal 145: 398-402.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Family Rosaceae-The Deciduous Tree Fruits. Pome Fruits We Pollinate. American Bee Journal 145: 489-494.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Family Rosaceae-More Deciduous Tree Fruits. Some Stone Fruits We Pollinate. American Bee Journal 145: 563-568.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Some Yellow Flowers of Summer. The Asteraceae-The Sunflower Family. American Bee Journal 145:650-655.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Asters in General. American Bee Journal 145: 729-733.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Some Colorful Members of the Aster Family. American Bee Journal 145: 823-827.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Ericaceae-The Heath Family. American Bee Journal 145: 903-908.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2005. Family Aquifoliaceae-The Holly Family. American Bee Journal 145: 975-979.


Progress 01/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
As this PI nears retirement, he is making knowledge derived during 20 years of bee forage research available to the American beekeepers by writing a book dealing with the bee forage of North America. While this book will not be available for some time, he has struck an agreement with The American Bee Journal to begin publishing parts of it immediately in his column, The Other Side of Beekeeping. Information and photos for these writings are derived from literature searches, the PI's research plots, and frequent visits to botanical gardens, arboreta and wild and unmanaged habitats throughout the U. S. As the American bee Journal and the PI start this project, we are experimenting with subject matter and format and encouraging the readers of the journal to comment on what is most useful to them. To make this information available to as wide a range of beekeepers as possible, a slightly abbreviated version of the journal articles are also being made available at the website: plants.bees.net.

Impacts
The current journal writings, as well as those of a future book, are intended for a diverse group of beekeepers and include beekeepers who: want to plant for increasing honey production, want to create a diversionary planting to reduce pesticide-related bee mortality, want to plant for changing the flavor of their honey, are interested in identifying bee forage species for the purpose of establishing apiaries in good sites, or simply want to plant a bee forage flower bed. The last book written on the bee forage of North America was Frank Pellett's `American Honey Plants', which was last printed in 1976, but was essentially last edited in 1947. A great deal has changed with the bee forage situation since 1947, and much information germane to the subject has also become available since then. The current writings and the eventual book will fill an important void in the beekeeping world. These materials will also be useful to those designing agroecosystems for native pollinators and biological control agents.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. Understanding the Other Side of Beekeeping: Part 4-Environmental Influence. American Bee Journal 144:39-45.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. Understanding the Other Side of Beekeeping: Part 5-Summarizing Overview and Potential Usefulness. American Bee Journal 144:123-126.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. Looking Back on 2003. American Bee Journal 144:201-205.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. The Legumes. A Diverse, but Important Group of Bee Forages. American Bee Journal:144:463-468.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. Some More Legumes. American Bee Journal 144:616-620.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. The Mints, an Interesting, Even Exciting Group of Bee Forages. American Bee Journal: 144-776-780.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2004. Some More Mints. The Nepetas. American Bee Journal 144:928-932.


Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

Outputs
The main objective of this project is to develop information that can help beekeepers choose existing bee forage systems or design and manage new ones. Nectar samples were collected for analysis for the third and final time from selected Tilia at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The study was designed to detect Tilia with honey potentials that are above average. Progress was also made in rooting several species of Tilia using inexpensive low-tech methodology. During 2003 the low-tech methods gave as good or better results than the arboretum's fog room. A project was also initiated to help beekeepers identify and understand already existing bee forage.

Impacts
The productivity and therefore the profitability of beekeeping in the U.S. is generally lower than it could be. Information developed in the Tilia and rooting studies will be helpful to beekeepers over large parts of the U. S. in developing bee forage systems for honey production or diversionary planting. The beekeepers of the U. S. have not had bee forage literature that covered the entire U. S. since Frank Pellett's book entitled American Honey Plants, which was essentially last edited in 1947. The project designed to help beekeepers identify and understand already existing bee forage will help them choose more productive apiary sites.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S., Jenkins, P. E. 2003. Looking Back on 2002. American Bee Journal 143:48-52.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2003. Understanding the Other Side of Beekeeping. Part 1-Initiating the Development of a Model. American Bee Journal 143:803-808.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2003. Understanding the Other Side of Beekeeping. Part 2-Completion of the Model. American Bee Journal 143:886-890.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2003. Understanding the Other Side of Beekeeping. Part 3-Genetic Variability, Methodology and Associated Problems. American Bee Journal 143:963-968.


Progress 01/01/02 to 12/31/02

Outputs
The main objective of this project is to develop bee forage systems that can be used by beekeepers for honey production and diversionary planting. A three-year weed control study designed to assess the potential for using permeable tarps for sustained weed control was completed. Two years of tarping gave better sustained weed control than three successive years of glyphosate at 4 quarts per acre. A second year of nectar samples was collected from selected Tilia at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The study is designed to detect Tilia with honey potentials that are higher than average. Progress was made in rooting several species of Tilia using inexpensive, low-tech methodology.

Impacts
The productivity and therefore the profitability of beekeeping in the U. S. is generally lower than it could be. Information developed in this study will be helpful to beekeepers over large parts of the U. S. in developing bee forage systems for honey production or diversionary planting. Information from the weed control study should be useful to producers of organic high-value crops.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. and P. E. Jenkins. 2002. Looking Back on 2001. American Bee Journal 142:37-41.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2002. There's a lot we don't know about the other side of beekeeping-get to know your honey plants. American Bee Journal 142:347-350.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2002. A Bee Forage by any Other Name is Still a Bee Forage. American Bee Journal 142:504-509.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2002. Honey Quality From a Unifloral Source. American Bee Journal 142:657-660.
  • Ayers, G. S. 2002. Some more thoughts on honey quality and honey potential. American Bee Journal 142:801-804.


Progress 01/01/01 to 12/31/01

Outputs
The major objective of this research is to identify plants with above average bee forage characteristic and to use them in the development of prototype bee forage systems. Tilia specimens, previously identified at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University as blooming intensely on a yearly basis are being studied to identify specimens that also produce large amounts of nectar on a yearly basis. 2000 was the first year of this three-year nectar production study. During 2001 the arboretum had four days in early may where the temperature went above 90 degrees F. Almost immediately after that the arboretum experienced a night where the temperature dipped to 25 degrees F. As a result, only two of the trees in the study bloomed and even there the flowers were not normal. As a result, no meaningful data was developed during 2001.

Impacts
Information developed in this study will help beekeepers select better than average Tilia for honey production and diversionary plantings. Material from a similar study at the Morton Arboretum is now available as grafted material from ForestFarm in Williams, OR.

Publications

  • Ayers, G.S. 2001. It's a Pretty Remarkable Production System We Have, Part 4: A Possible Continued Development. American Bee Journal 141:798-803.
  • Ayers, G.S. and M. Garcia-Mugg. 2001. Looking Back on 2000. American Bee Journal 141:57-60.
  • Ayers, G.S. 2001. Some More Thoughts About Budding Basswoods. American Bee Journal 141:206-208.
  • Ayers, G.S. 2001. It's a Pretty Remarkable Production System We Have, Part 1: Knowing the Competition. American Bee Journal 141:481-484.
  • Ayers, G.S. 2001. It's a Pretty Remarkable Production System We Have, Part 2: Knowing the Competition. American Bee Journal 141:581-583.
  • Ayers, G.S. 2001. It's a Pretty Remarkable Production System We Have, Part 3: Us Versus the Competition. American Bee Journal 141:651-654.


Progress 01/01/00 to 12/31/00

Outputs
The objectives of this research are to identify plants with above average bee forage characteristics and to use them in the development of prototype bee forage systems. Tilia specimens, previously identified at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University as blooming intensively on a yearly basis were studied to identify specimens that also produce nectar on a yearly basis. 2000 was the first year of this three-year nectar production study.

Impacts
Information about the Tilia that were identified in this study as being better than average at The Morton Arboretum have been supplied to beekeepers through the column "The Other Side of Beekeeping" in the November, 2000 issue of the American Bee Journal. The Morton Arboretum has agreed to make scion material available to beekeepers at a nominal cost. ForestFarm of Williams, OR has procured scion material from the three best trees to produce already-grafted trees for beekeepers.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S., S. Wiegrefe and M. M. Philip. 2000. Looking back on 1999 American Bee Journal 140:62-67.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 2000. Reassessing some original assumptions about bee forage plantings. American Bee Journal 140:225-229.
  • Ayers, G. S., J. Alexander and T. Ward. 2000. Propagation of woody honey plants by budding. Part I: Preparation for budding. American Bee Journal 140:391-399.
  • Ayers, G. S., J. Alexander and T. Ward. 2000. Propagation of wood honey plants by budding. Part II: The art of budding. . American Bee Journal 140:573-580.
  • Philip, M. M. and G. S. Ayers. 2000. The basswoods and lindens of The Morton Arboretum. American Bee Journal 140:887-891.


Progress 01/01/99 to 12/31/99

Outputs
The objectives of this research are to identify plants with above average bee forage characteristics and to use them in the development of prototype bee forage systems. Tilia specimens, previously identified at the Morton Arboretum as blooming intensely on a yearly basis, were studied for a third year to identify specimens that also produce nectar on a yearly basis. The development of an experimental demonstration bee forage planting was continued with the addition of numerous herbaceous and woody plants.

Impacts
Information about Tilia that were identified in this study as being better than average from the beekeeper's perspective will be made available to beekeepers through the American Bee Journal.

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. and M. M. Philip. 1999. Looking back on 1998. American Bee Journal 139:46-50.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 1999. Biological Diversity Part I. Pros and cons in comtemporary U. S. Agriculture. American Bee Journal 139:222-224.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 1999. Biological Diversity Part II. Potential effects in a-low maintenance bee forage system. American Bee Journal 139:385-398.
  • Wells, A. and G. S. Ayers. 1999. Attempts to move the blooming period of three species of summer blooming bee forage into the fall necar dearth period through cutting. American Bee Journal 139:522-556.


Progress 01/01/98 to 12/31/98

Outputs
The objectives of this research are to identify plants with above average bee forage characteristics and to use them in the development of prototype bee forage systems. Tilia specimens previously identified at The Morton Arboretum as blooming intensely on a yearly basis were studied for the second year to identify specimens that also produce nectar on a yearly basis. A good correlation existed between the results of the first and second years of this study. Tilia flowering intensity studies continued to be performed at five other North American arboreta. Studies were continued to determine if a caged environment affects the quality of honey production within it. In contrast to a similar 1997 study no differences were found between honey produced on an unshaded side of a cage as compared to the side of the cage to which additional shade had been added. The development of an experimental and demonstration bee forage planting was continued with the addition of numerous woody shrubs and trees.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Ayers, G.S. and M.M. Philip. 1998. Looking back on 1997. American Bee Journal 138:50-55.
  • Wroblewska, A., G.S. Ayers, and R.A. Hoopingarner. 1998. Nectar Production dynamics and honey potential of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum Nutt.). American Bee Journal 138:195-200.
  • Ayers, G.S., R.A. Hoopingarner, and M. Flechter. 1998. The qualities of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum) honey produced in a cage with no other floral source. American Bee Journal 138:367-371.
  • Philip, M.M. and G.S. Ayers. 1998. Continued studies on the production of unifloral honey within a cage. American Bee Journal 138:523-527.
  • Sahlas, M.J. 1998. An assessment of the insect populations using three species of Tilia during bloom. American Bee Journal 138:823-827.


Progress 01/01/97 to 12/31/97

Outputs
The objective of this research is to identify plants with above average bee forage characteristics. Tilia previously identified at The Morton Arboretum as blooming intensely on a yearly basis were studied to identify specimens that also produce nectar on a yearly basis. Tilia flowering intensity studies continue to be performed at five other North American arboreta. Two Sophora japonica plantings in the city of Lansing were also evaluated for blooming intensity for the fifth time during 1997. Approximately two percent of the trees studied bloom profusely on a nearly yearly basis. Studies were initiated to determine if a caged environment affects the quality of honey production within it. Honey produced in the side of the cage to which additional shade had been added was slightly darker than honey produced in the side of the cage to which no additional shade was added. An experimental and demonstration bee forage planting was started.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Ayers, G. S. 1997. Looking back on 1996. American Bee Journal 137:61-66.
  • Lawrence, C. D. and G. S. Ayers. 1997. Bees at the Morton Arboretum. American Bee Journal 137:217-220.
  • Harman, J. and G. S. Ayers. 1997. Black Locust: A honey plant with additional value. American Bee Journal 137:376-379.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 1997. Bee forage with other uses-Part I: Plants with nonmarketable value. American Bee Journal 137:526-531.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 1997. Bee forges with other uses-Part II: Plants with marketable value. American Bee Journal 137:651-656.
  • Ayers, G. S. and S. Ayers. 1997. A planting for bees-A progress report. American Bee Journal 137:807-814.