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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Merced, California
    Posts
    1

    Default best plants for bees?

    ok after researching and asking around online.i found that lavender,grosso and super variety are really good for bees.then i went to this website chat room and the guy told me ALFALFA Medicago Sativa.the gov website tells me its Annual Perennial.also somebody told me if i wanted a vine to put on the fence that bees like,then i should get any honeysuckle vine.so what do u guys think? i need about 10+ for vines and for ground plants i'm about to put about 50 or so now then more later when i have time.the ground plants i need them to be perennial.any input is welcome

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    Welcome to BeeSource. Listing your location as the United States makes it impossible to talk about plants that will do well for you in your area. If you are talking about providing a floral source that your bees will benefit from you ought to be thinking in terms of acres not individual plants or vines. If you want to do something that makes you feel good but doesn't do a whole lot for your bees than your plans sound reasonable - talk with you local cooperative extension and see what they think.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    531

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    I am a professional horticulturist and very new beekeeper.

    Your question is an interesting but very complicated one, and as Andrew Dewey said above, it's important to know where you live.

    And also what's your experience level at gardening?

    Lavender is not always the easiest plant to grow. It likes what it likes, and it sulks elsewhere. The two cultivars (a cultivar is a horticulturally distinct variation on the typical plant) you mentioned are not terribly hardy. I wouldn't count on them north of zone 6.

    Alfalfa is more zone tolerant, but it's not a really a specimen garden plant. It's a field plant where you need thousands of them all at once to feed a hive of bees.

    Honeysuckle is a plant which has many different varieties which grow throughout the US. But different ones are better than others depending on where you are. Some imported varieties (Lonicera japonica, or Japanese Honeysuckle, for instance) have achieved almost pest-level saturation of the Mid-Atlantic/Upper Southeast of the US. I struggle up here in northern NY to coax a few flowers from vines I transplanted from my Mother's farm in VA, where it was rampant. They would hardly contribute anything to my bees, but native bush honeysuckles are huge providers of nectar for me in the late spring.

    And that brings me to the larger critical issue is that for bees you need a constantly changing stream of flowering plants throughout the entire growing season. Unless you live in an area like Hawaii, plants' blooming periods come and go all year long.

    For instance right now my first variety of goldenrod is just starting to fall off bloom and the main Common Goldenrod is just coming to peak. It will last a few weeks as plants in slightly different places nearby come and go. Then Asters will start, and then the final round will be the very tall sneezeweed plants which are so tall (6-7 feet) they avoid being hit by the first frosts and keep on producing flowers for a few weeks more.

    I happen to be in the early stages of working on a project to identify the best bee-feeding (nectar/pollen) plants for my area. The published lists of the best nectar plants are helpful, but many are geared to other parts of the country, and also to be providing nectar to the wide range of creatures that are defined as pollinators: everything from bats in some areas to butterflies, moths, bees (honey and wild bees), flies and ants.

    Instead of a small patch of a few different plants, I think one of the best ways to have a significant impact on bees' nectar and pollen needs may be to plant trees. Because trees are usually so much larger, with thousand or perhapps even millions of blossoms. Of course, most of them bloom only once per year.

    Here's one link with many listed that are believed to be nectar sources for bees and other pollinators:

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=12052

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_American_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees

    These sources may give you a start, but it will take some local digging to figure what's best for you and your bees.

    Enj.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by fpsfreak View Post
    ok after researching and asking around online.i found that lavender,grosso and super variety are really good for bees.then i went to this website chat room and the guy told me ALFALFA Medicago Sativa.the gov website tells me its Annual Perennial.also somebody told me if i wanted a vine to put on the fence that bees like,then i should get any honeysuckle vine.so what do u guys think? i need about 10+ for vines and for ground plants i'm about to put about 50 or so now then more later when i have time.the ground plants i need them to be perennial.any input is welcome
    In my region, honey bees do not work honeysuckle. Some say honey bees tongues are too short. If I was going to plant a vine for my bees, it would be clematis. It blooms during our "dearth" and the bees love it.

    Shane

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    Since your post was labled "best plants for bees", and alfafa is not a vine, any of the mints would have to be near the top of my list of best bee plants.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,347

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    I vote for sainfoin, rape/mustard, mints, and alfalfa. Also, various species of milkweed have extended blooming periods and are quite attractive to honey bees.

    Though, as has been mentioned, honey bee colonies need a great many blooming plants, producing nectar and pollen, in order to provide them with their forage needs. Even if I saturated my entire country acre with blooming/nectar/pollen producing plants, it would not produce enough forage to meet the needs of even one small colony.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    You need to know that your bees will travel out to hundreds or perhaps 1000's of acres. Do you have a large area to plant? A better approach is to learn the honey plants in your area and locate your bees in proximity to them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Boonville, Indiana,USA
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    A combination of sweet clovers, using the tall yellow and white clovers. Also mix in some of the short white like you see in yards, I think this is called White Dutch. Now throw in some yellow birdsfoot trefoil and you have a mix that the bees love and will be in bloom from mid spring till early fall.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    tacoma, wa. usa
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    You might also go down to the local home depot or Wal-Mart and visit the garden shop and see what the bee's are on (I was surprised on how many honey bee's were in the department.... Beeing an urban beek, I have been looking for late august and September flowers that the bee's are on now after our August dearth.... catmint, sedum, clover.. Walking around the neighborhood anything blue seems to have bee's on them. I am in the NW, Western WA... the goldenrod bloom seems to be on the other side of the mountain.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Shelbyville,Indiana,USA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: best plants for bees?

    http://shop.wildseedfarms.com/Purple...ductinfo/3334/

    Purple tansy is an awesome one. It is down the page a bit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norther...for_honey_bees

    Also I plant buckwheat on 2 acres and the Tansy on one acre. They self seed. all I do is mow it and let it dry then disk in after 2 weeks. The buckwheat is very fast to grow. My bees are all over both of these when in flower. You can literally stand in the middle of them and hear the hum of the bees.

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