Garden plants to support bees

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People with a small number of hives often grow flowering plants to help out their bees. The reality is that it would take a significant garden to provide enough to produce a surplus of honey but quite often even small gardens can help to keep a few hives busy by providing some pollen and nectar during the tough times. Do you guys fall into this category? What plants do you grow and why?

One plant that I grow is lavender. The bees are always on it and it provides a bit of nectar and pollen. The best part about it is that lavender flowers for about 9 months of the year in my area. Normally it slows up in the summer but this year has been wet and it?s still going. It is an attractive plant that looks good if you keep it pruned. I should be cutting it back now before the next hot weather arrives. During autumn, winter and spring it looks awesome. I love to watch the bees invading this plant, especially during the cooler winter months

Holy cow, that is HUGE lavender!  I wish mine could get that big!  :sad:

We always grow sunflowers, both the standard kind and Mexican sunflowers.  Both honeys and bumbles love these, plus the hummingbirds love the Mexican sunflowers and the goldfinches love the sunflower seeds.  We also have bee heaven for the sweat bees, sweet alyssum for the hoverflies, all kinds of herbs for us and the tiny little bees you can barely see, creeping jenny for the leafcutters, squash for us and the squash bees, plus poppies, borage, sulfur cosmos, zinnias, the list goes on and on!  :happy:  I've got some native pussey willows that I planted last year that think are surviving the winter, so I hope they'll help with early pollen.     

Another bee friendly plant that I grow is a prostrate grevillea. It was planted many years ago on a steep bank as it is low maintenance and provides a good ground cover. It flowers heavily in the early spring with a smaller bloom around Xmas. The grevillea provides good quantities of nectar as a supplementary plant during the spring build up and often provides a pick during any summer dearth.

Another plant species that I grow to support the bees is banksia. I have a couple of varieties that produce an attractive floral display during the winter months. They produce both pollen and nectar. I have 5 hives located on sandy ground near the beach. The honey that I get from this area is totally different from what I extract from the majority of my hives at home. Winter and summer flowering banksias grow naturally in this environment and they produce a dark, strong flavoured honey.


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