|With the upcoming atrocious merger of Monsanto and Bayer we will continue to see challenges from neonicotinoids and a mindset that is adding to bee decline. When their former CEO’s and marketing staff are lobbyists or actually head our regulatory agencies we can expect even worse. Who can sue Monsanto, much less this new mega International conglomerate? Will our legislators fight such internationals? Heck no, most have been paid off.|
That still leaves a lot that people can do on a local level.
1. Plant pollinator friendly plants, both for nectar and for pollen. **
2. Be super careful in using any pesticide and attempt to find organic alternatives – or live with the problem – often nature will step in and solve the temporary imbalance.
3. Learn to value weeds – Dandelions, clovers, veronica, fireweed, thistle loosestrife, milkweed, goldenrod and other flowering weeds are crucial food sources for bees. In urban areas filled with sprawling lawns, dandelions and clovers are often lifesaving oasis for bees. Deadhead when they have finished their bloom and before they go to seed – sometimes not – seed heads of say asters are what hummingbirds make nests out of. Other plants such as nettle are great bee plants.
4. Plague your legislators to support policies like the Pollinator Recovery Act and fight this administration if it becomes one more Obama legacy Trump tries to kill.
5. Get your community involved and work to change restrictive law regarding bees and even raising a few chickens. I say this because my small community of Sequim WA does not even allow a few Rooster less chickens to be raised. “We’ve removed ourselves so far from our food sources that the re-introduction of these practices seems odd and even worrisome to people who haven’t been exposed.” And it is those very same people who make the restrictive laws in what used to be a vibrant farming community.
6. Join a local bee club and support their efforts. Our own North Olympic Peninsula bee club has a great newsletter and informative Monthly meetings.
Most of all: Plant the following Bee nurturing gems if you can.
If you live in a milder climate zone you could add many S. African and Australian plants such as Grevillia and Bottlebrush. Fremontia a CA native was literally dripping with nectar and on my former hillside I had planted a riot of Grevillia (RED) and Ceanothus (BLUE) – Liberace would have been proud.
Bees are more active in gardens that provide at least 10 species of their favorite plants. Similarly they ignore gardens with only one or two favorites. Highly manicured, heavily mulched gardens repel them. Providing a variety of flowering plants that provides successive flowering through spring, summer and fall form the foundation of the insect friendly garden. Remember, many of the same plants will also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
In summary: A balanced mix mix of native and exotic plants in a garden free from pesticides, keeps honey bees as well as native species foraging happily throughout the blooming seasons.
As this site progresses, I will further try to arrange the following plants month by month as they bloom in the Pacific Northwest.
Flowers and Perennials:
Lavender, catmint, monarda, rosemary, sage, cilantro, thyme, fennel, rosemary, hyssop, borage, aster, hollyocks, anemone, phlox, calendula, sweet allysum, poppies, sunflower, zinnia, cleome, heliotrope, chives, ageratum, sunflowers, Perovskia, Eryngium, goldenrod and so many more.
Hardy Iceplant, erodium, all sedums, sempervivum, Heuchelli, manzanita, cotoneaster, lithodora and European ivy, Hypericum
Abelia, Cistus (Rockrose), Ceanothus, Pieris, Aronia, Buddlia, Blueberries, Arbutus undedo – Strawberry tree, Escallonia, Euonymus, Mahonia, Manzanita. Bees favor old garden roses such as Bourbons, moss and Rosa rugosa especially. Photinia, Flw. Current, (Ribies Sanguinea) Viburnum, Photinia, Common Privet (bad tasting honey),
Eucryphia !!!! Catalpa, Tulip tree, Honey Locust, Black Locust, Sourwood, Amelancher ( Service Berry) Redbud, Sumac, Sambucus nigra ‘Black’ one of those many lovely red leafed forms, Tamarisk, Strawberry tree, Madrona All fruit trees.
Vines :** honeysuckle, clematis, esp. (C. armandii and montana species) and of course Wisteria.
Weeds: mustard – dandelion pollen, thistle nectar and pollen, fireweed
Honeybees further pollinate the normal vegetable garden – Sentient pumpkins ( see comment), squash, cucumbers, zucchini and these flowering vines in turn provide a valuable food source for them. Bees acquire pollen for protein, vitamins, minerals and nectar for energy from these summer garden favorites. RED pollen – now where did that come from. 🙂
Overwintering Your Hives:
Both pollen and nectar are incredibly important and in short supply. Local pollen count by the day, just enter your Zip code.
JANUARY, FEBRUARY and MARCH
Cottonwood, Eucalyptus, Willow esp. pussy willow. Pussy willow blooms are seen as the soft gray arrangements along the branch, but they are really the “bud” stage of the bloom. Here on the right we can see the yellow and red color of the actual flower stamens.
In the Pacific Northwest Cottonwood trees are a major supplier of pollen and in CA and elsewhere Eucalyptus fills the menu. Some bulbs and annual weeds also begin to bloom and provide pollen.
MARCH: is the month we all have been waiting for and in milder areas Citrus is one of the first nectar bearing trees. Many desert wildflowers and shrubs also begin – Mesquite being one. In the Pacific Northwest we rely on the Ribies sangineum and Indian Plum (Oemleria.)
Bulbs have also done their bit. Snowdrops (Galanthus) red pollen, Scilla Siberian Squill
APRIL: The earliest fruit trees to bloom would be the plums and if the weather is wet and unkind they sometimes will not get pollinated. Perhaps leaving the first blooming dandelions might be a good idea – pollen producer. MAPLES be they the native or hybrid forms all are great pollen and nectar sources. Hazel bushes including the contorted filbert are also heavy pollen producers. Crabapple, apples and plum are in full swing.
MAY: Apple and cherry trees are primary nectar trees in May and towards the end of the month bees will be attracted to the Pink Tamarisk which looks delightful with Ceanothus as does the Fremontia. Flowering Quince and Laburnum are heavily visited for both pollen and nectar, so is Heather. Blueberries are finishing but Photinia and many other shrubs are coming into full bloom as are tons of perennials: Phlox, Lithodora, poppies and many more.
JUNE: Honey Locust (Gleditzia), Holly, Ash are three heavily visited trees now. Later on Walnut trees provide pollen and the feral Horse chestnut – RED pollen. If you are fortunate to have a LARGE property the Tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera is an awesome honey producer as are the raspberries and even better the blackberries. Madrona and dogwood are both good May/June nectar trees.
Oriental poppy and Opium poppy are producing tons of grey pollen in this month and into the next. Sorry – no opiate honey, it is all pollen. Same for HEMP which is wind polinated. 🙂
Crimson and white clover – nectar and pollen. (light brown) Euonymus and many common landscape shrubs such as Photinia, Cotoneaster, Ceanothus and Wisteria are being visited.
JULY: Perovskia, Penstemon and many of the cultivated flowers come into play now as well as the Sequim famous lavender.
AUGUST: Fireweed and Thistle both are nectar producers. The Black Locust comes into flower in late JULY/AUGUST.
Sunflower – nectar and pollen
The FALL months:
European Ivy – nectar
WINTER: Arbutus unedo, Eucalyptus, in milder regions Citrus
OTHER LINKS – other stories.
A web based introduction to raising bees. Over 30 videos!
The link to Bayer above is but ONE of four videos regarding their culpability with insecticides.
“In 1992 Bayer was granted a license to use its systemic insecticide ‘Gaucho’ on Sunflowers and Maize in France. In 1994 more than 400,000 bee-colonies died within days of the sunflowers blooming; the beekeepers could actually watch bees dying on the sunflowers – as soon as they had drunk the nectar and collected the pollen. The ground beneath the sunflowers was ‘crunchy’ with dead bees -” The French govt. refused to act; the regulators refused to act; the food safety agency refused to act – and it took years for them to ban the use of this chemical. British and American agencies have not done the same.
(C) Herb Senft 5/26 2018