Bee Feed Wildflower Seed Mix provides bee forage for the entire growing season. It includes annual and perennial flowers that provide pollen and nectar to honey bees, bumble bees and other native bees.
This mix is Non-GMO.
- Lavender Hyssop
- Siberian Wallflower
- Lance-Leaved Coreopsis
- Plains Coreopsis
- Chinese Forget-Me-Not
- Purple Coneflower
- California Poppy
- Indian Blanket
- Globe Gilia
- Sweet Alyssum
- Baby Blue Eyes
- Corn Poppy - mixed colors
- New England Aster
- Crimson Clover
- Blue Flax
- Wild Bergamot
- Fleabane Daisy
Honey Bee Pollination
Honey bees don’t just produce wax and honey – they are extremely valuable pollinators of many agricultural crops. Honey bees are not native to the U.S. – they originally came from Europe and were brought over by early colonists. The list of crops that are pollinated by honey bees is endless – including fruits, berries, nuts, clovers, alfalfa, canola, and many vegetables.
Honey bee populations have been in decline in recent years. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, there has been a loss of about one third of honey bee hives in beekeeping operations across the United States. Recent studies suggest that these declines have been caused by the combination of several factors which may include infectious pathogens, malnutrition, stress, and pesticides.
Most recently, beekeepers have been striving to reduce pesticide use near hives and investing more in food supplies for their bees. Planting flowers that produce pollen and nectar, especially during the weeks when crops are not blooming, help to provide nutrition to honey bees throughout the entire season. With enhanced nutrition and health, honey bees will be better equipped to fend off disease, pathogens, and the effects of stress.
Native Bee Pollination
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, there are over 4000 species of native bees in the U.S. alone. Bees are the most predominant pollinators of flowering plants in nature, thus contributing a vital service to the ecosystem. Because of this important role, bees are referred to as “keystone organisms”.
Some native bees have names that reflect how they build nests—leafcutter bees, mason bees, miner bees, carpenter bees, digger bees, etc. Others are named for their behavior, which include bumble bees, sweat bees, and cuckoo bees. Finally there are some bees that are named for the types of plants they pollinate such as squash, sunflower and blueberry bees.
If honey bees are in short supply, the pollination needs of many crops can often be filled by native bees. Research has shown that native bees can be major pollinators of agricultural crops and sometimes do the job more efficiently. For instance, the blue orchard bee is a primary pollinator of cultivated apples. Another important crop pollinator is the western bumble bee, which has been used to pollinate cranberries, avocados, and blueberries. Native squash bees are major pollinators of cultivated squashes. Some native bees are even commercially managed like honey bees to provide pollination services.
Native Bee Conservation
There was a time when native bees and wild honey bees performed all of a farmer’s pollination needs because of the presence of natural areas nearby. These natural areas provided nesting sites, food and protection for the bees. Because of the way agricultural landscapes are developed today, there is often a lack of native bee habitat and forage near farms. Techniques to encourage native bees to live in your area are simple to implement. These can be done on a farm or in a home garden.
There are 2 ways to engage in native bee conservation. You can preserve known nesting and foraging sites on your property, or you can create them. Good bee habitat must include water, areas for nesting or egg-laying and secure over-wintering sites. Flowers that provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season will provide adequate food. These habitat and forage areas should never be treated with insecticides or other harmful chemicals. If insecticides are utilized in the vicinity of bee habitat, they should be applied when they have the lowest impact possible on local bee populations. This might entail spraying pesticides only when bees are not active.
Sowing wildflower seeds without care and planning usually produces unsatisfactory results. Here are some important factors to consider: Does the site support plants now? If you have a site where nothing, including weeds, is growing, that site is unlikely to support wildflowers. Will there be adequate moisture during germination and establishment? Can you supply supplemental water, if necessary? What weed seeds are likely to be present in the soil? Will weeds spread to your site from adjacent areas? Assessment of these factors will enable you to make a realistic choice of a site where wildflowers will prosper and to decide what action will be necessary to ensure your success.
Best results will be obtained by planting on cleared ground. Remove existing vegetation to avoid competition from other plants. This may be done by pulling, tilling under, spraying with a general herbicide, or by a combination of these methods, depending upon the size of the area, type, and density of vegetation, or other factors. Loosen soil by scraping, tilling, or scarifying. Tilling should be utilized only when soil is very compacted and further weed control measures can be taken.
Method of application depends on the size of the area and the terrain. On small areas, broadcast seeds evenly, either by hand or by use of a drop or cyclone spreader. It is helpful to mix a carrier such as clean, dry sand with the seed; sand adds volume and aids in even distribution. We recommend using a ratio of one or two parts sand to one part seed. Rake in lightly, covering seeds to a maximum depth of 2-3 times their thickness. You may also drag the area lightly with a piece of chain link fence to mix the seed into the surface of the soil. For seeding large areas, more than one acre, specially-designed drills are most effective. Drill to a maximum of 1/4 in. and firm the soil with a cultipacker; this maximizes seed/soil contact. Hydroseeders are also effective, especially for steep slopes, rocky terrain, and other areas where conditions make it impractical for other methods of seed application.
Hydroseeding is the application of a slurry of seed and water to soil. The slurry may also contain mulch (hydromulching), a tackifier, and/or fertilizer. Mulches are made of wood fiber, paper or excelsior, and their purpose is to hold seeds in place, help retain moisture and, and provide protection from erosion; mulches are usually dyed green as a visual aid for even distribution. Rates of application for most mulches are between 1,500 and 2,300 lbs. per acre. In general, hydroseeding/hydromulching is most successful in moist climates or in irrigated areas.
Most authorities agree that germination is better when seed is applied first with 5-10% of the mulching fiber...the balance of the mulch being applied separately as a second step. This approach ensures optimal seed/soil contact; otherwise, many seeds are wasted because they become suspended in the fiber.
It is important that proper procedures are followed to minimize the amount of time that seed is circulated through pumps or paddles prior to application. Over-circulation may damage the seed.
The best time to plant in your area depends on the climate and rainfall patterns, as well as the species you are planting. In cool climates, plant annuals, perennials or mixtures of annuals and perennials during Spring, early Summer or late Fall. Fall plantings should be late enough so that seeds do not germinate until Spring. Perennials can also be sown in early fall provided that there are at least 10-12 weeks of growing time before the plants go dormant for the winter. Late fall plantings are advantageous when supplemental irrigation cannot be provided and adequate rainfall is anticipated during the Spring.
Plant during the cooler months of the year, fall through spring, for best results in mild climates. Fall plantings done prior to periods of rainfall will ensure an early display of flowers the following Spring.
Many wildflowers benefit from some fertilization if the soil does not have adequate nutrients. Some wildflowers do fine in poor soils, while others require a more fertile environment. We recommend that a soil test be performed when soil quality is unknown. If the soil needs improvement, use a low nitrogen fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio or add organic matter such as weed-free straw or grass clippings, well-rotted compost, peat moss, or leaf mold. In addition to adding nutrients, organic materials enhance soil structure and encourage beneficial microorganisms. Avoid over-fertilizing, which may promote weed growth and lush foliage rather than flowers.
All seeds, including wildflowers, need ample moisture to germinate and to develop into healthy seedlings. Best results will be obtained by soaking the planted areas thoroughly and maintaining consistent moisture for 4-6 weeks, and then gradually reducing waterings. Plant in the spring or before periods of anticipated rainfall In non-irrigated situations. Watering may be reduced depending on the climate and rainfall after seedlings are established. In arid climates or during drought conditions, up to 1/2 in. of supplemental water per week may be required to maintain an optimal display. If weeds are present, remember that they benefit from moisture as much as the wildflowers and may dominate overwatered areas.
Weed control is the biggest problem facing plant establishment, and one which has no easy solution. Weed seeds are present in many situations and lie dormant, but viable, for long periods. A weedy area converted to wildflowers will have a large reservoir of weed seeds in the soil, ready to germinate when conditions are favorable. In most cases, it is advisable to consider weed control in two phases?as part of site preparation prior to planting, and as an important component of the post-germination maintenance program.
Before planting, remove existing weeds by pulling, tilling under, applying a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup®, or by a combination of these methods. For additional weed control after site preparation, a soil fumigant may be used, or the area may be irrigated to encourage weed growth and then sprayed with a general herbicide.
In very weedy areas, the following method is suggested: Till soil or spray vegetation with Roundup®. When using an herbicide, allow vegetation to die, then rake out the dead debris. If perennial weeds such as bindweed are present, using an herbicide is more effective than tilling. Irrigate to encourage germination of weed seeds near the surface. Most seeds will germinate within two weeks if consistent moisture is available. Do not till the soil again because this will bring even more weed seeds up to the surface. Spray any new growth with Roundup®. After raking out dead vegetation, allow soil to recover for 3-4 weeks before planting seed. In our experience, a recovery period of this duration is advisable because extensive use of glyphosate herbicides may cause a delay in germination and in the vigorous growth of seedlings.
Once the seeds have germinated, further weed control is usually necessary. If practical, pull all weeds as soon as they can be identified.
Other successful techniques are spot-spraying with a general herbicide or selectively cutting weeds with a string trimmer. Be sure to remove weeds before they reseed.
Many unwanted annual and some perennial grasses can be controlled with the herbicides Grass-B-Gon®, Ornamec®, and Fusilade®. These post-emergents do not affect broad-leaved plants, so they can be applied over existing flowers. They are most effective when sprayed on new growth and young plants. Take care to avoid treating areas with desirable native grasses or fescues.
Uses of Grasses
Wildflowers can be sown alone or with grasses. In the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, we recommend warm-season grasses. Warm-season grasses to consider include Gramas, Buffalo Grass and Bluestems. These grasses grow very slowly and are planted for aesthetic and ecological reasons, rather than prompt stabilization of soil.
Aggressive grasses should be avoided because they will crowd out most wildflowers; these grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Smooth Brome, Crested Wheatgrass, Bermuda Grass, and Annual Rye. If wildflowers must be used with these grasses, the flowers should be planted in high-density patches, as accents to the grassed areas. Or the flowers may be sown with the grasses if the planting rates of the grasses are reduced significantly.
What to Expect
Wildflowers can provide an excellent, low-cost alternative in large-scale, high-maintenance situations, as well as a satisfying change from traditional urban landscaping. However, during their initial establishment period, wildflowers require as much maintenance as traditional plantings.
A smooth, weed and vegetation-free planting bed is important for good seed-soil contact and prompt germination. Avoid seeding more than the recommended rate, as overseeding can result in crowded conditions the first year and poor establishment of perennials. Cover seeds lightly to protect them from drying out during germination, and to prevent them from being eaten by birds. Consistent moisture is important for 4-6 weeks after planting.
A wildflower planting requires the same weed control measures as traditional landscaping. Effective measures include site preparation prior to planting and a post-germination maintenance program.
Most of Hancock's wildflower mixes contain annual, biennial and perennial species. The annuals, which may not be native to your area, are included to assure maximum color during the first season and to act as a nurse crop for the slower-growing perennials. Annuals germinate quickly when conditions are favorable, providing a quick ground cover and competition against weeds. Natural reseeding of annuals ranges from significant to minimal, depending on the species, climate, soil texture and other factors. Most perennial and biennial species begin to bloom the second season, but not as profusely as annuals. Therefore, wildflower plantings look noticeably different after the first year.
Sometimes it is desirable, or even necessary, to sow seed in second and subsequent years. Reseeding may be necessary if establishment of wildflowers is spotty or poor. It is possible to reseed bare areas with the original mixture. Loosen soil of bare areas and provide adequate weed control and supplemental irrigation as needed. Where natural reseeding of annuals is minimal, sowing annuals each spring can produce a magnificent annual and perennial display throughout the growing season.
If desired, wildflowers may be mowed in the Fall following seed set. Mow to a height of 4-6 inches, and leave the residue on the ground because it is a reservoir of viable seeds.