September 10, 2012

Bee Friendly Plants For The Garden

The bees are in trouble and they need our help. But more importantly, we need the bees' help to pollinate our food crops. It's a mutually beneficial type of relationship and as a species we have been exploiting that relationship for centuries without much thought. Bee numbers are diminishing, both in the wild and in honey production. What can we do to help? Diversity of planting is a good start. Not spraying toxic chemicals helps as well. Then we can perhaps consider planting more bee-friendly plants in our gardens or on our farms, especially those that have good amounts of nectar. Bees need pollen and nectar to make food. Lots of flowers have pollen but I had to scratch my head a bit on nectar. So, I did some research online and compiled these lists. Help save the bees!

Six Families of Plants That Are Outstanding For Nectar Production:

Rosaceae – all stone and pip fruits, blackberry, hawthorn
Fabaceae – clovers, gorse, false acacia, mimosa
Lamiaceae – rosemary, lavender, sage and other salvias, thyme, mint, bee balm, basil, cat-mint
Scrophulariaceae – koromiko, penstemons, veronicas,
Brassicaceae - brassicas (e.g. cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, mustard, stock, wallflower)
Asteraceae – dandelion, sunflower, dahlias, heleniums, cosmos, echinacea, zinnia

Top Five Plants for Honeybees:

Melissa, also called Lemon Balm
Phacelia, also called Tansy

A List of Nectar Rich Plants Suitable for Gardens:

Banksia spp.
Barberry (Berberis spp.)
Bee balm (Monarda didyma, M. citriodora)
Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.)
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Brassicas (Brassica spp.)
Buddleia (Buddleja salviifolia)
Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Cabbage tree (Cordyline australis)
Californian lilac (Ceanothus spp., cvs)
Catmint (Nepeta spp.)
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Clover (Trifolium repens)
Cucumber, melon, zucchini (Cucurbita spp.)
Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) & varieties
Echium spp.
Gum tree (Eucalyptus spp.)
Harakeke / NZ flax (Phormium tenax)
Heather (Erica spp.)
Ice plant (Sedum spectabile)
Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides)
Karo (Pittosporum crassifolium)
Kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium)
Lemon, grapefruit, orange (Citrus spp.)
Koromiko (Hebe macrocarpa ) & varieties
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)
Manatu (Plagianthus betulinus)
Kumarahou (Pomaderris kumeraho)
Lavender (Lavandula spp) & varieties
Mexican aster (Cosmos spp) & varieties
Mimosa (Acacia baileyana)
Northern rata (Metrosideros robusta)
NZ lacebark (Hoheria populnea)
NZ jasmine (Parsonsia heterophylla)
Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
Penstemon (Penstemon spp.) & varieties
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa)
Rewarewa (Knightia excelsa)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Sage (Salvia apiana, S. fallax, S. officinalis)
and other spp.
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Symphytum grandiflorum
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Tree lucerne  (Chamaecytisus palmensis)
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Wharangi (Melicope ternata)
Zinnia (Zinnia spp.) & varieties


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