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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    239

    Default Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    I'm compiling a list of trees that can be planted here in Philadelphia to increase forage for our bees. I'm working off a list of trees that the City of Philadelphia (Dept of Parks & Recreation) has approved for planting along the streets.

    Some of the choices seem pretty good for example, Crabapple (Malus), Hawthorn (Crataegus), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Serviceberry (Amelanchier), Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), and Linden/Basswood (Tilia americana) in order of increasing size. All the Maples are good, right?

    They don't have a lot of really big trees that I recognize as good for the bees, aside from the Lindens which they say can't be planted along the street because they're too big, only in parks, etc. Are Elms good forage?

    Other trees I'm not too sure about. I don't want to say that they don't help the bees very much, just because I don't see them listed as good sources. Some are obvious Ginkgo trees, for example.

    Here are some of the trees I don't want to discount too quickly. Any thoughts on these?

    • American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
    • European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
    • American Hophornbeam, Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)
    • Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
    • London Plane, sometimes called Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

    And what about Oaks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    West Chester, PA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    American Linden/Basswood, Black Locust, Tulip Poplar, Sourwood and Sumac are great choices. You might want to stick more with flowering trees to help the bees. Maples provide some pollen in mid-to-late Winter, but our bees aren't out flying much then. Early and late season flowering trees can give the bees a boost when forage is less plentiful.

    You might also want to focus your scope more than "the whole city". Planting many trees in a relative close proximity to one another, such as a park, cemetery or large landowner property, is more valuable to the bees than a single tree every few blocks.

    Jim.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    1,665

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    Poplars are great. They are early in NC and make the bulk of our early flow.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    Quote Originally Posted by jfmcree View Post
    Planting many trees in a relative close proximity to one another, such as a park, cemetery or large landowner property, is more valuable to the bees than a single tree every few blocks.
    That's an excellent point, something to keep in mind. I've started a facebook group on the topic, for anyone with an interest in this topic.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/191211807880030/

    The emphasis is on the mid-Atlantic region and specifically trees for the city environment. (And we do have parks, cemeteries, and large properties in Philadelphia, which gives us another angle of approach.)
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
    Posts
    2,466

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    Flowering cherry (Yoshino) with the single light pink blossoms are excellent for my bees. They cover the trees and you can hear the bees working the trees from about 50 feet away. I think that is the variety planted in Washington DC. They don't get too big, would be great for parks also.
    "Sometimes the best action is no action at all."
    Started 2011, 3-10 frame hives; 2016, 32-8 frame hives, 1 nuc

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    Quote Originally Posted by dsegrest View Post
    Poplars are great. They are early in NC and make the bulk of our early flow.
    You mean the tulip poplars, right? I looked for information about poplars and found they're in the Populus family (including cottonwoods, aspens, etc.) which are mainly wind-pollinated. Tulip poplars are in the Magnolia family, and maybe they're just called poplars. I'm getting into this topic and starting to get used to how much confusion naturally occurs with the common names of plants and trees.
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Trees for bees, Mid-Atlantic region, especially street trees

    The best way to understand our project is to put it alongside efforts everywhere in the country to improve the forage for honey bees. At our last bee club meeting we saw an online powerpoint/audio presentation by Zac Browning, about difficulties they're having in eastern North Dakota with keeping and maintaining bee-friendly forage. They have some support from the federal Land Conservancy apparatus, but it seems they're feeling frustrated with so much of the land being dosed with herbicides and/or the 'natural' flora being replaced with seed mixes (e.g., grasses) that aren't at all suited to pollinator insects (nevermind dreams about seed mixes specifically tailored to honey bees).

    "Remember the bees!" seems to be the general message when talking to federal, state, local and not-for-profit organizations which are deciding what to plant and how to maintain it. And we're learning how to say that better in cities as well.

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