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Bee attractive plants



Bumble bee male ( yellowish head) on red clover.
Photo credit-Ian Lane- with permission

 Clover is probably the most abundant and best producer of nectar available to bees within the city and into the suburbs.  Of course blackberry is another great flower for bees since it also produces lots of nectar.

Bumble bees on summer flowers

Summer flowers

Bumble bee- Bombus vosnechenskii

Summer flowers

What is so neat about these bees flying into July is that they are flying and nesting in a nectar and pollen rich time period.  As a beekeeper we know that spring is a time when nectar and pollen is abundant for nesting.  This period is followed June, which is usually a dearth period.  In June, food in the form of pollen and nectar is scarce.  Early spring flowers have finished blooming and summer flowers are still developing.  Therefore, June is normally a very difficult period for mason bees to survive and not starve since they do not store honey( unlike the honey bees).  Thus, surviving through to July is quite the miracle!  the surviving mason bees  are now again in a bountiful period, when blackberry, fireweed and other summer flowers produce lots of pollen and nectar.

Stephen D. writes- I’m on a steep learning curve, what with 3 types of bees. I created havoc with my mason bees, having to move the nests several times. A few bees managed to find a home, many more took off. I believe you wrote about this, so I was prepared.  Nests are now in place permanently.  Thanks for the great service you provide.
My question, is there a plant or plants that flowers at this time, that are favored by bees? I have Japonica, heather and Siberian Bugloss. They are now out of bloom, as are wild blue bells. Please suggest some options. I would opt for perennial with low growing habit.
Also, do I put my leaf cutter cocoons out after a period of 20 degree C weather? Is there a recommended period?
Thanks.

Hi Stephen,  Great to hear you are having so much fun with all these
critters!!
Right now in my garden poppies are seeing lots of bee activity
blueberries rhodos.
I am not a plant person, but I have got a lot of bee attractive plants on
my blog.  Once you get there, there is a search window.  Type the word  You will get a variety of blogs about plants.
http://www.beediverse.blogspot.com/
Another great source is to go to a garden center when it is sunny and let
the local bees tell you which plants are bee attractive plants.
Let me know if you find some good ones

Set leafcutter bee cocoons out in June as temperatures increase into the 20C range
Margriet

Thanks. I went to the nursery today and looked for the bees. I came home
with a butterfly bush.
Thanks again.  Stephen D.

After warm temperatures in early spring, quickly followed by a cold spell lasting a good two weeks,  the sun is finally out again.
Bees are busy foraging. Here are a few pictures of what I saw on Kale flowers.

In the past, people have asked me whether male mason bees forage and pollinate.  I presumed they do some feeding on nectar because they would need to be energized over the two  week period that they are around.  Males probably don’t do very much pollinating or moving pollen around from one flower to another because when they arrive at a flower- they do it without much movement over the flower.  Today I took picture of a male mason bee drinking nectar out of a flower.

Male mason bee getting energized by drinking some nectar.
Note long antennae and white hairs on front of face.
Native leafcutter bee feeding on pollen and nectar.  Note stripes on abdomen (Family Megachildae).

 

Another tiny bee (6 mm/1/4″ long) busy feeding on nectar and collecting pollen.

 

Here on the west coast of British Columbia, my favourite flower came out in abundance.  It is a wonderful plant that provides both pollen and nectar to bees when there is little else for them to forage on early spring.  One day, this beautiful plant will be encouraged in lawn and gardens!
Dandelion flowers
In this field, many dandelions provide an abundance of food for bees
in early spring before apple blossoms appear (apple orchard in background).

You can’t beat this plant for being ready with nectar for early spring bees.  Here on the west coast of NA, the early blooming pieris is in bloom.  It is a hardy plant, great to have around the house.  This morning I saw a fly and a bumble bee feeding on the nectar of this plant.

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