Top Flowers to Keep Near Your Beehive
Everyone knows that bees use flower pollen to make their delicious honey. That being said, I, Matthew Davies, feel that a great addition to any apiary is a garden that is brimming with a lot of beautiful flowers for the bees to choose from. Not only will the flowers provide cover for the hives, so they are not as much of an eyesore; they will also provide your bees with a great source of pollen. While bees are perfectly capable of hunting down flowers to pollen, it is easier for them when the flowers are nearby.
Nearly any flower will indeed provide your bees with the pollen they need; it is essential to remember that bees have preferences too. The same way that we, as humans, have predispositions to certain types of food, bees do as well. That being said, I am going to provide you with a list of flowers that have proven very successful with the bees on my property. Should you find any of these flowers to not work for your bees, do not hesitate to switch it up a little bit. There are plenty of flowers that are beneficial to bees. When considering flowers, make sure they are big enough and can provide your bees with plenty of pollen. The bigger the flowers are, the better they will sustain your colony. Small flowers may look beautiful, but they run out of pollen too quickly and will leave your brood looking for alternative sources of pollen.
The reason that sunflowers are so good for your bees is twofold. The first reason is that they grow to be quite large. Their size makes them one of the best flowers for bees. They produce a lot of pollen each year, and having a few dozen, or hundred depending on the number of hives you have, can be a welcome addition to your apiary. The second reason is they are bright yellow. The color is very important as bees see yellow the best. They will be able to spot the flowers from far away. While you will be keeping them close to your hives, other bees may be able to utilize them as well. Who knows, they may even join the hive and start producing honey for you as well.
Remember, when a bee loses their queen, they will attempt to make another one. If they are unable to produce another queen, they will seek one out. Provided that you have a healthy colony, they could choose yours.
If you are looking for a flower that will produce pollen from early spring until fall, then this is the flower for you. Marigolds are an annual or perennial. That means that once you plant them, they will continue to come back year after year. In some cases, you may have to plant them again, but depending on the climate you live in, they will simply bloom the following year also. Northern states will likely have to replant, but southern states won’t. The difference is the winters each area has. The harsh northern winters will destroy the roots of these delicate plants. The southern winters are much easier on the root system. Therefore, planting will likely not be necessary if they have been well taken care of.
In addition to being a quite hardy plant, they also fit the bill when it comes to size and color. Concerning size, they are not a big as sunflowers, but the number of blossoms on each flower allows for more surface area for bees to seek pollen. Again, they have bright colors that are easy for bees to spot. When combining a lot of blossoms and a vibrant color, you have a plant that is perfect for keeping your bees happy from early spring to early fall.
Between sunflowers and marigolds, your bees will be happy all the way until winter. However, if you are looking for a late-blooming plant to sustain them through the winter, you need to consider sedum. Sedum is part of a larger genus of plants that are commonly called stonecrop. The genus of this plant has over 500 identified different species. Some are smaller and closer to the ground, while others grow taller and have vibrant colors that are attractive to bees. No matter what style you like, you can likely find a plant that will keep your bees happy.
Like marigolds, sedum is a perennial. The difference between them and marigold it that they will come back later in the year. As I stated, the stonecrop is a late-blooming plant. Don’t be too quick to replace them. I would say that if they have not started growing by the first day of summer, it might be time to think about replanting. Before that, you would be costing yourself a lot of time and money on a plant that has just not bloomed yet.
There you have it. A list of flowers that you can keep letting your bees have something to feast on all year. Remember, when you are raising bees, it is your responsibility to make sure they have plants to make sure they have enough pollen to satisfy their queen. The more honey they make for their queen, the more honey you will have access too. It is important to remember that you should only be taking the excess honey that the bees are not using. Therefore, if you have a hive that is not producing enough honey because of a lack of flowers, you should not be taking any for yourself. The only thing that will happen if you take too much honey is that you will have a beehive will soon die off. The bees need to have enough honey to carry them through the winter months when plants are not pollinating. So, stop harvesting honey in the early fall to allow them to have enough time to build that supply back up. Combine this with enabling them to have Sedum around so they will have those flowers to resupply.