ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Camelina cover crops a boon for bees

MORRIS, Minn. - Camelina is an herbaceous, yellow-flowering member of the mustard family whose oil-rich seed and cold tolerance has piqued the interest of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists for its potential as both a winter cover c...

2153168+CAMELINA FOR WEB.jpg
Agricultural Research Service

MORRIS, Minn. - Camelina is an herbaceous, yellow-flowering member of the mustard family whose oil-rich seed and cold tolerance has piqued the interest of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists for its potential as both a winter cover crop and biodiesel resource.

Now, in the process of studying this plant, scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that its flowering period can provide honey bees and other insects with a critical, early-spring source of nectar and pollen that's usually unavailable then. This is especially true in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, where about one-third of the nation's managed bee colonies are kept from May through October.

The researchers observed that fields of winter camelina and winter canola (another alternate oilseed crop) produced about 100 pounds per acre of nectar sugar over the course of a two- to three-week flowering season. That quantity, produced in such a short time, is enough to support the annual energy requirements of a typical bee hive, which is 100 to 200 pounds of sugar per year, according to Frank Forcella, an agronomist with ARS' Soil Management Research Unit in Morris, Minn. He participated on a team of ARS and university scientists which evaluated the attractiveness of camelina, canola and a third oilseed crop - pennycress - during two years of outdoor field trials.

What To Read Next
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.
Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Growers Association were pleased with items in Gov. Tim Walz's "One Minnesota Budget" proposal.
John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation recently announced they had come to an agreement that will lead to more accessible repairs to John Deere equipment.
Sponsors include Farmers Union Enterprises, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute.