When the snow stops! The snowy garden in April below…
Bees are curious little creatures. Each different species have their own way of making a living. Honeybees work all winter, where a pregnant bumblebee queen will hibernate. She gets to do all the work come spring of nest making, building a honey-pot to store honey, and collecting pollen to make bee bread. She lays the eggs and sits to incubate them. Then some of her offspring hatch and take over her chores so she can lay more eggs. Not very queenly if you ask me. She has a busy, hard life. Bees have a hard life.
I know come spring I too am very busy, but what I look for first is not what flower is blooming or popping out of the ground, but what flower is hosting bees. How many of you actually pick your flowers with bees in mind?
I bet many will say they grow native gardens for bees. I myself have an abundance of native plants, but if you really watch the bees, you will see them foraging on many herbs, shrubs, trees and tender annuals, all not native to your region. Bees of many types are very fond of Mediterranean plants – herb gardens. Plant some for bees. If the plant is tender to your region or soil conditions, make a container full of bee favorites. If the plant is not native and causes no horticultural harm, weigh the benefit for bees when adding to your garden.
Bees should be showing up soon when temperatures are above 55°F, so this year, take note of how many bees are actually in your gardens. My tiny garden hosts many hundreds of bees each day in summer.
Now we are in the mid the 30°s in the afternoon with snow showers likely to continue into next week. It really is not going to be bee weather until late April here in WNY, but that does not mean mason bees will not be out and about during those warmer days that are predicted. Honeybees get a jump on collection early as the weather allows, working to replenish their pantries.
I was listening to a NPR podcast the other day all about spring bees. They discussed how flowers attract bees, even with low electrical pulses. Other topics ranged from bees sipping caffeine in nectar to bees getting drunk on alcohol. I posted on each of these subjects over the years, but every year there is so much new to learn on bees.
Did you know Rhododendron can be toxic to bees? They will be blooming this spring. I won’t ruin the suspense, so check out Adventuresinbeeland’s post to find out more.
As I said, bees are curious little creatures, always amazing us. What would a flower be without its pollinator? From the standpoint of a plant, the pollinator is the reason for its flower to exist, even to catch a breeze and sway in the wind to get pollinated. They don’t exist to pretty our gardens or bring smiles to our faces from the viewpoint of a plant. Not very poetic from that perspective.
Flowers are mainly for pollinators, but we can eat some as well, also not very poetic. We enjoy flowers, no matter their function. Flowers lure in pollinators, but their beauty lures us in as well.
Tip of the day? Eat more flowers! Not!!! Add plants that bloom early for those honeybees and native bees to get a jump on the season. Better yet, have a garden in bloom the whole growing season.
I rarely see a bee on the Hellebores (shown above early today and no bees), but honeybees love crocus and don’t miss even one of them.
Let those early dandelions flower for a bit in the grass too. Dandelions are actually pretty tasty in salads, but bees will be happy with pollen baskets full.
Next garden tip in my flurry of garden posts.. Change Bloom Time on Your Perennials.