University of Vermont

Forage Legume Bee Project
Forage Legume Bee Project
Providing information on utilizing forage legumes as a food resource for honeybees and native pollinators
A decline in honeybee populations in Vermont over the past few decades has been attributed to many factors including Varroa mites, disease, pesticide exposure, and a loss of nectar and pollen resources.  Many beekeepers in Vermont have observed that the lack of nectar resources in the mid-to-late summer period is an important stressor on honeybees.   Historically, an important summer food resource for honeybees has been from forage legumes such as clovers, alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil.  These resources have declined over the past two to three decades due in part to 1) a decline in acreage of legume hay crops and 2)  an increase in intensity of harvest by dairy farmers in order to optimize feed quality resulting in reduced bloom periods.

The Forage Legume Bee Project is an initiative by UVM Extension in collaboration with the Vermont Beekeepers Association to increase acreage of flowering forage legumes that provide sustained nectar flows especially during the critical summer period when other nectar resources from native plants are limited.  As part of this initiative, the VBA would like to promote hay and pasture crops that are more ‘bee friendly’ without sacrificing forage quality that dairy and other livestock farmers are dependent upon. However, there is a need to conduct field research to determine the feasibility of various mixtures and management practices that would help the VBA meet these goals while dairy livestock farmers still meet their feed goals.  

The following includes information and updates on this project plus links to other resources related to pollinator plants and bees.

SARE Partnership Project Final Report

Forage Legume Identification Guide

Developing a Bee Friendly Pasture System

Links For More Information on Bees and Other Pollinators

Evaluating Flowering Plant Selection for Pollinator Habitat Enhancement: 

Open-Pollinated Natives vs. Native Cultivars  - A site by Annie White, University of Vermont

New England Pollinator Handbook - a USDA NRCS Publication

Pollinator Conservation Resources – Northeast Region  -The Xerces Society

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Report on Neonicotinoids, January 2015

Sponsored by:
with support by 

Northeast SARE is a regional program of the nationwide SARE which offers competitive grants to projects that explore and address key issues affecting the sustainability and future economic viability of agriculture. The program is authorized under Subtitle B of Title XVI of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990.  It's wider mission is to advance, to the whole of American agriculture, innovations that improve profitability, stewardship, and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education. For more information go to,

This site is maintained by, University of Vermont Extension

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Last modified April 30 2018 03:33 PM

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