10 Flower and Plants for Beekeeping at Home
“If the bees disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live”
– Maurice Maeterlinck
“Bees are the batteries of orchards and gardens hence guard them”
– Carol Ann Duffy
The history of apiculture began about 9000 years ago in North Africa. However, beekeeping came into existence in the US when John Harbison practiced it around the early 1860s in an area known as Harbison Canyon, California. After that it was greatly expanded throughout the country due to the market of honey. Similarly, bee farming flourished in the UK after the Bees Act 1980. According to USDA, beekeeping is one of the agricultural integrated rearing practices in different parts of the world and the USA is also not isolated from this art of living too.
TYPES OF BEEKEEPERS
- Commercial beekeepers: Whose income generation is the primary objective.
- Side liners: Whose income generation is secondary objective.
- Hobbyists: Whose beekeeping is their hobby.
BENEFITS OF BEEKEEPING AT HOME
- Medicinal benefits of honey- antioxidants, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, reducing sore throat and healing wounds.
- Crop pollination
- Indirectly supports other wildlife like butterflies
- Increasing yield
- Ecological balance
TOP 10 BEST BEE FRIENDLY FLOWER AND PLANT SPECIES RECOMMENDED FOR HOME GARDENS
Bees are most effective pollinators as they only feed on flowers. Selection of appropriate bee-friendly species will provide better improvement in bees health and productivity.
1. Purple cone flower (Echinacea purpurea)
Purple cone flower are tough perennial flowering plant that requires full sun and well-drained soil. They are easy to grow and are loved by bees and butterflies.
Emerging young ones of bees and butterflies feed on cone of the flower. Queen bumble bees reserve energy generated from feeding for mating and utilization during hibernation. They are also used for decorative purposes.
Cosmos is an ornamental, simple and open flower that produces pollen and nectar which attracts different varieties of bees and insects. These are favorites of honey bees and native alike.
Mixture of varieties of cosmos attracts different types of bees such as bumble, honey and leaf cutting bees which improve bees health and increase in honey production too.
3. American basswood (Tilia americana)
It is one of the widely preferred species by honey bees as well as beekeepers of the USA and Canada. It can grow in harsh climate i.e. full sun to dense shade but it mostly prefer moist well drained soil.
Its flowers and nectar attract bumble bees and sweet bees along with other nectar loving flies and wasps. Due to its adaptability and usefulness for beekeeping it is the species of utmost preference at your home.
4. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
It has a charismatic fragrant flower which can be as large enough up to a feet. It prefer moist, well-drained and acidic soil and, could grow well in both sun and shade. It can tolerate high moisture level too so it is one of the recommended species at your garden for beekeeping.
Its blossoms have the largest pool of nectar and smell so sweet, i.e. source of attraction for pollinators like bees and beetles.
5. Red buds (Cercis spps)
Early spring is considered as best planting season for red buds at your home gardens. These species are best grown in well drained soil with partly shaded locations.
The flower of red buds attracts bees during early to mid-springs for its nectar. The flowers are easily pollinated by long tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees.
6. Willow (Salix alba)
Willows usually bloom in February or March months. Male willows provide both pollen and nectar. These species grow well in moist, wet and boggy soils which is fairly acidic or neutral and, cannot grow in shady areas.
They are great sources to feed for bees. The flowers of both sexes produce nectar to attract insects such as bees, flies and wasps.
This is one of the best wintering plants for bees that provides nectar in the early year time period. Semi-shade areas with high moist soil supports its growth and development.
They are considered as the bee’s knees. Besides these benefits for beekeeping; the unusual color pattern of these flowers add perfection to the beauty of the home gardens too.
Bees are active during day time and feed on nectar during these times. Snapdragon attracts bees by its sharp smell as it releases four times more scent during the day.
They are commonly pollinated by bumble bees as they could open the flowers easily. This species also has aesthetic values in home gardens of many cold countries like the USA and UK.
It is tall and elegant flowers of hedgerows preferred to be at home for apiculture. They develop well in heavy clay soil with high organic matter content. They can sustain in deeper shade as well as heavy light.
Its flower spikes have freckled interiors. The freckles are considered to be honey-guide and thus, are the signs indicating bees landing on the surface. One plant could produce millions of seeds and serve bees to a greater extent.
10. Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
This species is famous for the production of large amounts of honey in the USA. These trees bloom in the spring season and it provides a sign for the honey flow and nectar flow around home gardens.
These species usually prefer moist and well drained soil. This species is also believed to improve soil properties along with its age so encouraged for home gardens.
These are the best alternative species of flower and trees that should be in your home garden if you are integrating beekeeping as a part of your agriculture. These plants will improve bee’s health and productivity in a significant way.
What are your views on this species? Do you feel there are other peculiar species than these which provides more benefits for beekeeping or bee-farming? Please feel free to share your views and knowledge so that it would result in an interesting integrated shared learning approach for all of us.