SUBURBANIZATION, AN OVERABUNDANCE OF MOWED LAWNS, MULCH, AND CLEARING OF NATURAL MEADOWS AND ROADSIDE WILDFLOWERS HAS SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR BEES.
DO PLANT FLOWERS, BUT LET THE DANDELIONS, GOLDENROD, CLOVER AND WILD PLANTS FLOURISH WHERE THEY WILL.
Plants for Honeybees
What Do Honeybees Like?
This following introduction is taken from Melissa Gardens, but the plant list below is for Rockland County.
Which Botanicals Best Nourish Honeybees?
An original question was: Which botanicals best nourish honeybees? If, for example, thyme is a strong anti-microbial – and thyme honey clearly has these properties, would thyme be an important plant for honeybee health? And, if thymes, what if we were to expand beyond culinary thymes and include species thymes of the Mediterranean? We learned that honeybees favor pollen from heirloom roses, especially the rugosas. We consulted with authorities, Kate with Dr. Gordon Frankie at U.C. Berkeley whom she has worked with on pollinator gardens, and Priscilla with Dr. Vetaley Stashenko, an apiculturist, naturopath and apitherapist, formerly of the Ukraine and now living in the U.S.
Quantity of Nectar and Quality of Pollen
Quantity of nectar and quality of pollen, timed throughout the year to support the seasonal needs of the hive, are the key guidelines in plant selection. Having good sources of propolis nearby are as important, ensuring the hive can provide for its hygiene and health. Dr. Stashenko noted five top plants to support the honeybees with nectar and pollen throughout the season: phacelia, borage, echium, melissa and goldenrod, and he also suggested a more extensive foundation list for ornamental gardens.
Click here for Dr. Stashenko’s list of honeybee plants.
Above all, we learned that there are no absolutes. Terroir is an important concept in regard to honeybee forage. The locale is captured in the nectar and honey, and in the pollen. Plants express themselves totally based on where they are planted, the fertility of the ground, and the gardening methods used. Honeybees, from the human perspective, are mercurial. While they might go for pollen from crocuses in one garden in the early spring, they may completely ignore them in another garden if they find botanicals they like better. They are always attuned to finding the best pollen and nectar sources available. The question on relative nourishment from different botanicals remains, and we invite input.
Plant List for Rockland County- (download list as PDF-click)
Butterfly Bush/ Buddleia
Pheasant’s eye (Adonis)
Fruit Trees (*Crabapples)
Golden Rain Tree