Bees and Their Delectable Delights

Early settlers brought honeybees, now widespread throughout the world, to North America. Today their impact on the global food supply and ultimately the global economy cannot be underestimated.

Prince Charles did an exemplary job bringing his book Harmony to the world, published by Harper Collins in 2010. He makes an eloquent connection between bees and the global economy. According to him more than a third of what we eat worldwide is dependent on the pollination provided by bees. In the US alone more than 3,000,000 bee colonies have collapsed in the last few years and this number is growing at an alarming rate. None of us needs to be a genius to understand the impact of this tragic loss on the food supply. It is thought that this horrific devastation is due to our use of pesticides. The toxins released into the environment daily imperil bees, beneficial insects, butterflies, birds, and all else including us.

While the problem is huge, the consequences devastating, every single person with a window box, flower pot, balcony, or garden can join in the fight to save them by growing the plants on which they thrive (and need I mention, stop using toxins if you haven’t already).

This area of the garden should be planned by starting early in the season and staying late because honeybees have a remarkably long cycle and begin searching for food while we are still holed up planning next summer’s garden.

In my travels I have read and heard from beekeepers that bees are inclined to ignore plants grown within a radius of 50 feet from the hive. It is believed that this area might be contaminated by the bees’ own cleansing flights. So if you or your neighbor keeps bees, plant your bee treats well beyond this 50-foot boundary. Here is a list of terrific bee plants for you to consider.

PERENNIALS

Alkanet (Anchusa spp also include biennials and annuals)

Winter Aconite (Eranthus)

Crocus (Crocus spp)

Dead Nettle (Lamium)

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium)

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Poppy (Papaver spp also include annuals)

Clover (Trifolium)

Verbena (Verbena spp also include biennials and annuals)

Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)

Goldenrod (Solidago spp)

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Russian Sage (Perovskia)

Anise Hyssop (Agastache spp)

Bergamot (Monarda spp)

BIENNIALS (OR SHORT-LIVED PERENNIALS)

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis spp also include annuals)

Melilot/Sweet Clover (Melilotus spp)

Viper’s Bugloss (Echium)

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Teasel (Dipsacus spp)

Woad (Isatis tinctoria)

Mullen (Verbascum spp)

* Keep in mind that biennials bloom the second year and then die. Consequently they must be planted every year, like annuals, to keep successive blooming year after year.

ANNUAL

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)




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