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Bee Plants for beginners

1267 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  msscha
I don't see myself becoming a serious gardener but I find myself more and more curious about what the bees are bringing back into their hives. If you would like a laugh, it wasn't until last year that I realized that trees made pollen and nectar- gosh. Yeah, I knew flowers made pollen and nectar but when beekeepers I met talked about how I had some basswood in my honey or the early pollen I was getting in spring was maple...I looked at them funny and did not admit any ignorance at all.

So...Is there a resource for dummies on this? I think that understanding and predicting plant growth might help me understand what my colonies are doing at a given time.
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Try this.

Click on your region and you will get species and approximate bloom dates fro the region. You can adapt this information to what is specifically growing in the area near your bees. That area is about a 3 mile radius from your hives.
Beesource has a whole section on it, not specifically devoted to beginners, but there's some good discussions in there (the gardens/plantings for bees section).

Personally, I'm trying to plant some medicinal plants in the hope that they will self-medicate, but also to extract the essential oils for mite/nosema treatments. I've got a bunch of thyme, winter savory, and wintergreen seeding now, but just got started myself - can't really testify to the efficacy yet.
The only problem with planting for the bees is that they are looking for acres of plants, rather than individual plants. Typically a forager finds a concentration of forage ( a large patch of blackberries rather than a plant or two) and them lobbies in the hive for recruits to go collect. So single or double plantings won't generate a compelling recruiting argument for the foragers. They also won't generate the volume of stores within the hive to impact the hive itself. But if you have an acre field you've sown white clover on, now yer talkin.

That's one of the reasons you see many postings from people saying "I put a hive in my vegetable garden, but never see any bees".

I've got several plantings in my yard that are more intended to provide me the opportunity to observe individual bees rather that generate hive level activity. I notice the spring bloomers don't generate much interest. I think it's because of abundant foraging alternatives. The summer and fall bloomers get some activity though.
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You might check with your local extension office or nearest large university. The university of Florida publishes a newsletter called "The Melitto Files" which lists local pollen/nectar sources -- that list is more extensive than the one at the site listed above. For instance, we have a wild flower/weed called Spanish Needle that blooms extensively summer-fall -- that's definitely listed as a foraging source by UF, but not on the .gov list, which seems more geared toward commercial beekeepers (e.g., makes mention that highlighted rows are especially important for honey harvesting).

@Irmo -- yep! I planted a couple of new gardens especially for pollen/nectar and my hive (only 8 days old) has not touched it, though they are foraging off somewhere to the south of our yard (at least, that's the direction they seem to be coming home from). However, the bumble bees, native bees, and butterflies are happy, so the garden achieved something:rolleyes:.
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