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Beekeeping: Bees in gardens

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SunnyBorders
Aurora, ON
(Zone 5a)

April 2, 2009
3:05 AM

Post #6352888

I don't keep bees, but do feed lots of them.
Have a perennial garden, with a large variety of plants in it. Don't use pesticides or herbicides. Result: healthy and balanced insect populations and ongoing butterfly visits.
Also notice very large numbers of especially honey bees, but also lots of bumblebees, throughout the summer and into the fall. The most obviously popular plants with the bees are culver's root (species and cultivars), purple loosestrife cultivars (don't use the species) and globethisle (species). The bees must do a lot of pollinating (not invariably useful: e.g. cross-pollinating lungbane cultivars). Spend the summer working among bees which I find very relaxing.
Saw the first bee of the year today, a small honey bee working snowdrops and species crocus.
Know of a few specifics: notably, monkshood and bumble bees. Though I have numbers of summer and fall flowering monkshoods, I seldom see bees around them. On the other hand, the globethistle is hugely popular with the bumblebees. I am getting the impression that bees particularly favor plants with tall spike-like flowers (bee attracting adaptations?), e.g. the culver's roots and purple loosestrife.
Can anybody add anything to the matter of what types of insect/bee pollinated plants are particularly favored, by bees (honeybees), in mixed perennial flower gardens or in flower gardens in general?
jylgaskin
Williamsburg, MI
(Zone 4b)

April 3, 2009
8:22 PM

Post #6360292

Bees like any plant where it is easy to get to the nectar. Monkshood for example is difficult for them to get into.
Sharran
Calvert City, KY
(Zone 7a)

April 7, 2009
5:51 AM

Post #6376197

Makes me happy when I read that folks encourage honeybees by taking care to feed them.

I could write a book on how important honeybees are, but I will only direct you to an article I wrote some time ago about current studies concerning the value of honey, thus the value of honeybees:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1016/

Somewhere I have a list of plants that bees particularly love. I will look for it and share with you, but I don't think I have with it the zones they grow in. But you could probably decide that for yourself.

Suggestions to follow...
Sharran
Calvert City, KY
(Zone 7a)

April 7, 2009
6:04 AM

Post #6376214

Found my list:

Bees are attracted to blue flowers, because they see ultraviolet light, though there are others that also attract them that don't look blue to us. They also like the lavender shades.

Here is a list I compiled some time ago, I am sure there are more that could be added.

And yes, they seem to like the spiked plants.

ceanothus...or California lilac
borage
thyme
mints
monarda
daisies
coreopsis
asters
lupines
joe pye weed

You are in a colder zone than I, but maybe of your native wildflowers you might find some that fit into this range. As I said, I am more familiar with those that grow here.

Good luck. I'd like to know your progress. And thank you for what you are doing.

MaryMcP
Phoenix, AZ
(Zone 9b)

April 7, 2009
12:20 PM

Post #6376667

Thanks for that list. I have been wondering what to plant around the veggies to attract bees and birds for pollination. Some of those will work for me. Fortunately, I also like blues and lavendars! ;~)
SunnyBorders
Aurora, ON
(Zone 5a)

April 7, 2009
3:39 PM

Post #6377507

Sharran,
Very interesting.
Sunny

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