Picking The Best Clover For Honey Bees; Best Species Of Clover

Picking The Best Clover For Honey Bees; Best Species Of Clover

Clover is something that you can be sure the bees will thank you for planting. Many varieties are filled full of pollen, nectar, and other life-sustaining nutrients that they need.

Picking The Best Clover For Honey Bees; Best Species Of Clover

The only problem is that some types of clover will provide basically nothing beneficial for the honey bees. 

In fact, opting for certain types of clover might actually make foraging that much more difficult for our friends the honey bees. 

This is why it is so important that you understand which variations of clover are the best. The bees pollinate so much for us. They basically keep our food source alive, without them, we’d likely struggle to even get a hold of our five a day.

So, I think it’s a fair enough assumption to think that we should return the favor and provide them with the food they need too. 

So, are you ready to learn about the best bee-friendly clover species? Let’s get to it then!

Best Bee-Friendly Types Of Clover 

As I mentioned above, simply selecting clover for bees isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Especially when you realize that there are more than 250 species of clover on the market.

Below, we’ve whittled it down to the best five species that are manageable to grow and are sure to appeal to our favorite buzzing best friends. 

1. Alsike Clover (Trifolium Hybridum)

If you’re looking to encourage honey bees to your home, you couldn’t go about it a better way than offering up a bit of Alsike clover. This foliage produces some of the best honey around, and it comes in the bucket-loads too.

According to the American Bee Journal, you can reach results of 500 pounds per acre! 

This kind of clover is probably best for those who live in cooler and damper climates as this is how the plant thrives. It should be fine in any area that has at least medium rainfall, though it does prefer high and heavy rainfall. 

The plant itself is a stunning pink shade which you can expect to admire from early spring until late summer. Good news for humans and bees alike, the Alsike blossoms bloom for a pretty long time! 

2. Crimson Clover (Trifolium Incarnatum)

For clay and well-drained sandy soils, Crimson Clover is the perfect option to attract honey bees(see also: Are Honey Bees Attracted To Light?). Now, it can be a little temperamental, this species doesn’t like to be too hot nor does it survive very well when it’s too cold.

So you need to keep it in a sweet spot in between where possible. 

And though Crimson Clover is often not grown on quite the scale as some other clover options, you can still expect a pretty high yield of pretty pleasantly-flavored honey from the crop. 

And it’s not only beneficial to the bees, but to your garden too. It can improve the soil structure, add nitrogen, and even suppress weeds. Pretty handy, right? 

The only real drawback with Crimson Clover is that it flowers very early on in the season and so won’t still be around during the fall. 

3. White Clover (Trifolium Repens)

White clover is a pretty popular option since it produces these tiny white pretty flowers that bloom in the late spring and last until fall.

This clover, often referred to as Dutch clover, is a great option to plant for the bees as it offers sustenance and nutrients into the late fall when food sources are generally scarce. 

Pretty much all other clovers are compared using white clover as the benchmark – It’s popular for a reason after all! 

It’s probably one of the less fussy options in terms of survival too. It definitely prefers a cooler climate, but it generally tolerates many different types of weather conditions as long as they aren’t too extreme. It’s also moderately drought tolerant which is another major plus. 

4. Sweet Clover (Melilotus)

For those inhabiting particularly hot and humid climates, Sweet Clover will definitely be your best friend. Of all of the many varieties of clover, it is easily one of the toughest.

It is very effectively drought-resistant and can ensure that it’ll stand as a tasty food supply for the honey bees in even the most poorly irrigated soils. 

As a rule, you can generally expect Sweet Clover to granulate more than the likes of white clover for example. Don’t let this discourage you, though, as it is still considered excellent quality.

It’s pretty light in terms of color and has a distinctive yet mild flavor of pepperiness. 

And for the bees, this type of clover produces really high amounts of nectar and pollen from April to July. There are two options when it comes to sweet clover, you can get yellow or white versions.

Typically the white sweet clover will bloom around two weeks later than the yellow varieties, but both are great at keeping the bees happy. 

5. Berseem Sweet Clover (Trifolium Alexandrinum)

This variation of clover derived from a strain in the middle east that has sadly gone extinct. Berseem clover is a pretty versatile crop that can thrive in almost any weather conditions.

From wet and windy to relatively dry, you shouldn’t have any issues. The only real time to worry is when it is extremely hot or cold. 

This type of clover grows incredibly well in Florida, California, and parts of many southern United States. 

Quick Recap 

  • Alsike Clover – Extended bloom period, exceptional honey production. 
  • Crimson Clover – Pleasant high-yield honey production, flowers earlier in the season.
  • White Clover – Popular attractive bloom, extended bloom period, diverse conditions tolerance. 
  • Sweet Clover – Drought tolerant, high pollen and nectar production. 
  • Berseem Sweet Clover – Versatile crop, fairly diverse conditions tolerance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Difference Between Clover Honey And Wildflower Honey? 

The type of honey that a honeybee produces will differ entirely based on the kind of foliage that it’s been using for food. When a bee has been feeding off clover, the honey tends to be more mild, less bitter, and has a cleaner taste than that of wildflower honey.

You’ll also tend to find that pure clover honey has an almost white appearance. Wildflower honey, in comparison, tends to be very dark and typically has more flavor when harvested towards the end of the honey season. 

What Type Of Clover Shouldn’t You Use To Attract Honey Bees? 

Not every kind of clover will be the best choice for honey bees. Take Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) for instance. The flowers are often too long for a few species of bee, the honey bee included, and so they can’t actually access the nectar that comes from them.

However, if you’re looking to attract the bumblebee rather than the honey bee, then red clover will be a good option. 

Which Variety Of Honey Is The Most Popular?

Clover honey is the United States most popular variety of honey. Areas like North Dakota are where the bulk of most honey comes from, and clover is often the chosen foliage since it boosts nitrogen levels in the soil.

It just seems to be a happy benefit that the bees can’t get enough of the stuff. 

Does The Clover’s Color Make A Difference To The Bees? 

It’s a fair question to ask, will different colors attract bees more than others? Well, according to scientists, it is said that bees are most attracted to foliage in shades of blue, purple, or violet.

With that being said, though, bees tend to love all clovers. So the color of your clover won’t make a massive impact on your honey production. 

What Are The Potential Benefits Of Clover Honey?

There are many benefits to clover honey. For example, they are filled with antioxidants such as phenolic acid and flavanols.

There is research that these antioxidants can help improve heart health as well as protect the central nervous system. Clover honey also has no cholesterol! 

Is Clover Honey Healthier Than Regular Honey? 

It could be argued that clover honey is slightly healthier than regular honey due to the believed health benefits such as a healthier heart and better weight management than table sugar.

However, you still need to remember that Clover Honey is still high in both sugars and starch and so should still be consumed within moderation. 

Does Clover Honey Spoil? 

Nope. Honey is probably one of the only food items that does not spoil. The quality will definitely decrease over time in terms of becoming thicker and cloudy, but this can be rectified by placing it lid-off into a pan of warm water.

This will help return the honey back to its original consistency. 

Fun Facts About Clover 

  • Partly Pea – Clover is actually a plant that is part of the pea family.(Fabaceae)
  • Soil Saviour – Not only does clover help above the ground thanks to its nectar and pollen, but it also helps below ground by aiding with solid erosion and adding essential nutrients into the soil.
  • Cheap & Cheerful – Despite its many benefits, clover is actually really cheap to grow and also acts as effective animal fodder. 
  • Not For Novice – Making pure clover honey can actually be quite challenging. 
  • Industry Leaders – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the US are the leading producers of clover honey. 
  • Creamed Clover – Clover honey often crystalizes rapidly into a solid mass, so it usually has to be creamed in order to keep its structure. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you’re a bee keeper or a gardener who wants to be kind to the bees, knowing the right kind of flora and fauna to keep these buzzing bees happy is imperative. Luckily, when it comes to clover, bees don’t tend to discriminate. They’ll give anything a go. 

With that being said, though, there are definitely some varieties that are much better suited to the honey bee than others. Any of the five recommendations above are sure to ensure beehive bedlam. The honey bees (see also: Why Do Bees Make Honey?)won’t be able to get enough! 

So what are you waiting for? Get planting some clover today and help the bees (see also: Best Plants For Honey Bees)to continue pollinating and producing honey! 

What Is The Best Clover For Honey Bees?