Live like bees in clover

The clover is blooming! While the bees may be a little frustrating of late, the flowers make me smile. The bees are doing okay, actually. Still, this is a good week for a clover post so here we go.

We have a pollinator-friendly lawn. I mow at 3½ to 4 inches (about 9 to 10 cm) with my zero-turn high-speed fun-to-drive mower. We have almost 2 acres of lawn, so cutting high allows wild flowers to bloom. Spacing my mowings roughly two weeks apart gives the flowers even more time to show their colors. This approach not only supports pollinators, we save time and money by mowing less often. Good for the bees, good for the environment.

Time for Clover

Our white clover (Trifolium repens) especially seems to benefit. This plant, also known as Dutch clover, blooms at 3 inches or so. In a few weeks we’ll have them all over the lawn. When the small white flowers are reaching up, there is nectar to be had by bees and other pollinators. After pollination, the white petals drop as a visual signal that pollinators use when selecting which flowers to visit.

We have red clover (Trifolium pratense) in our yard as well, though this clover is often twice the height of white clover and therefore has to work harder to bloom. Red clover flowers are a bit longer, making them a poor source of nectar for honey bees. They are great for bumblebees, though, as their long tongues have no trouble extracting the tasty nectar.

Red and white clover in the bee yard on May 4, 2017. ©Erik Brown

In addition, during the first mowing of the year for our larger field last weekend I spotted some crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum). It was rather exciting as I don’t recall seeing this in the yard before. I carefully mowed around the two small patches. Hopefully bees and other pollinators will help it seed and we’ll have even more next year. It is a pretty plant, also referred to as Italian clover, and grows a bit taller than red clover.

Crimson clover on May 4, 2017. (May the fourth be with you!) ©Erik Brown

Live like pigs in clover

This idiom comes from thefreedictionary.com site, though they appear to have taken their entry from the book The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Second Edition.

According to the reference, clover is a favorite food of pigs. So pigs in clover are very happy indeed. When you live like pigs in clover, you are extremely content. The quote first appeared in the Boston Gazette of January 7, 1813.  Curiously, according to Wikipedia, the Boston Gazette only published from 1719 to 1798. However, Brock University has a publication from 1813 and mentions 1812 to 1815, so perhaps not everything you read on the Internet is true. But… I digress.

As the century wore on, in early 1889, Charles Martin Crandall invented a game called Pigs in Clover that was widely popular in America. The “pigs” were marbles and the game required each ball to be guided into one of the three concentric rings.

Last year the clover in our yard bloomed closer to early June (see my Bloom where you are planted page). This year all three varieties bloomed at the beginning of May, so adapting the idiom for this post seems quite appropriate.

May you prosper and find honey.

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4 thoughts on “Live like bees in clover

  1. Love seeing clover in the yard. In addition to all the great qualities you listed, they smell so nice, too!

    The crimson clover is very pretty. I may have to plant some of that!

    Liked by 1 person

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