In the natural world honeybees forage wherever they can, taking advantage of local abundances of particular flowers and trees. Flowering plants produce nectar and pollen and in the wild honeybees visit a vast array of plants, gathering nectar and pollinating the plants they visit. The true worth of honeybees to the environment and to the human economy is in the act of pollinating flowers.
When bees go about their business of foraging for nectar and pollen they tend to visit only one type of plant. This greatly increases the success of pollen transfer among each type of flower. When they have exhausted the bounty of one they move on to another continuing to gather pollen and nectar and to ensure the life of the plant they visit. Perennials benefit from bee visits as it blooms again and again year after year. Bee keepers can benefit from the bees flower fidelity by producing honey from a single flower source. Honey such as Orange Blossom, Tupelo, and Clover are examples of honey sourced from only one type of plant.
The onset of spring gets us outdoors and in the mood for planning and planting our gardens. You may have acres of space on which to plant fruit trees or you might be gardening in containers, raised beds, or on windowsills. Whatever your type of gardening endeavor you can attract honeybees to help you succeed in growing flowers, fruits, herbs and veggies.
Following is a partial list of flowers and crops that need bees for pollination. Please plant a few of these this spring when you begin your gardening adventures. The bees will thank you and you will be doing a small part in helping them survive our fragile world.
Dandelion (yep bees love ’em – don’t kill ’em)
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