The Beehive, where the buzz is all about honey bees. Monthly discussion topics will cover a range of issues and interests such as beekeeping, starting a bee garden, honey bee products and how to preserve the majestic, hard-working honey bee. Feel free to contribute your comments, ask a question or be provocative. We’re listening!
How to start your own bee garden
Bees need our help. Apis melifera is in decline in most parts of the world due to viruses, pesticides and colony collapse. Gardening with bee-friendly plants, avoiding pesticides and fertilizers (corn is especially damaging to bees) can help enormously. You might even take a giant step and become a beekeeper yourself. Let’s get started.
Bees love most flowering trees, bushes and vegetables, as well as annual and perennial flowers and weeds, collecting pollen and nectar which they take back to the hive. They make honey with some of their haul, as well as royal jelly which is fed to pupae. They prefer single-blossomed flowers which they can enter more easily. Early-blooming flowers are a boon to them, as they need to make all the honey they can in early spring to get the hive back up and running again.
Favourite annuals beloved by bees include Alyssum, Aster, Calliopsis, Cosmos, single Dahlias, single Marigolds, single Poppies, and Sunflowers.
Perennials include Anise Hyssop, Bergamot, Coral Bells, Hellebores, Creeping Thyme, Crocuses, Evening Primrose, Burning Bush, Flax, Forget-Me-Not, Gladioli, Goldenrod, Grape Hyacinth, Hollyhocks, Purple Rock Cress, Sage, Stonecrop, Snowdrops, Tickseed, and Geraniums (true).
Dogwood, apple and other fruit trees, dandelions and catkins from trees such as willow, birch and maple also make fine honey. Tulip Tree, Black Locust, Catalpa, Eastern Redbud, crabapples, Linden and Japanese Pagoda Tree are also beneficial. Shrubs such as Caragana, Cotononeaster, False Spirea, heathers and hydrangeas, single shrub roses, Snowball, Sumac, Weigela, and Winterberry are easily accessible for bees. Strawberries, melons, pumpkins and squash, as well as herbs such as mint, rosemary, and fennel make scrumptious food for bees.
Late summer honey is made from goldenrod and asters which tends to crystallize earlier but these flowers are still vital for production.
Which flowers, bushes, trees and vegetables do you have in your garden?