|Bumblebees forage on everything from raspberries......|
How many flowers must bees visit and collect nectar from to make a pound of honey?
It is estimated that it takes the nectar from about 2 million flowers!
So, what is the good of planting flowers for the bees when they you can’t possibly plant enough for them on your property? And anyway, bees from hives on-site typically forage last, it seems, on their home turf. Here are a few cheerer-uppers when you see the bees taking off, up over the trees and into the unknown:
1. You probably have other bees – native bees - that don’t make honey the way honeybees do and they need nectar and pollen - don’t forget pollen! – as well. So many native bees being busy this time of year. I think bumblebees are the most adventuresome eaters of all. (see photos.) However I haven’t seen any pollinators on the ladies’ mantles that are now covered with their chartreuse frothy sprays of blooms. Something must pollinate them since they seed themselves around in huge numbers. I am making a note to get rid of some after they bloom since, quite frankly, they aren’t earning all the upkeep.
2. Honeybees prefer to collect from one source at a time. They are “flower-faithful.” This is why flowering trees with lots of flowers are especially excellent for honeybees. Black locusts, linden and basswood trees are sources of nectar in this area flowering around this time of year. I am going to look for all sorts of pollinators on these trees. There is a linden tree at the local post office. Some time observing at the tree will be a better reason for a stop there than to collect the junk mail.
3. Some flowers that look like only one blossom are actually many flowers bundled into one. The Compositae family (it’s in the name!) includes species such as purple coneflower, an example of a good foraging plant for bees. So is goldenrod, and yes, I have been known to transplant goldenrod instead of composting it, (composting being the opposite of compositing!)
4. Watch bees on the flowers in your yard to see what they like, including the weeds and wildflowers too. Native species of plants attract many more kinds of bees and other pollinators than non-native ornamentals. Plant more of these and let some weeds grow in an area of your yard to encourage the native bees to stay around and make a home in your yard. Note for the bee-wary - most native bees except for bumblebees are not able to sting a human. Wasps, often mistaken for bees, are predators and even though they do sip nectar, they mostly hunt other insects and are beneficial to the ecosystem even though they do sting to protect their home from intrusion.