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Author Topic: Unusual plants for bees  (Read 2258 times)
Jessaboo
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« on: February 02, 2009, 09:25:39 PM »

I know there has been a lot of discussion about bee plants but I am wondering about a few plants I am completely unfamiliar with. I am sure they are not for large foraging areas like phacelia or buckwheat would be but they are attractive to me for having in my garden. All of these are from Heronswood Nursery's catalog - they have great and unusual stuff!

First is Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos astrosanguineus) - the catalog claims it is perennial - not that is self sows but that it actually comes back as a perennial clump. True?

Next we've got Melianthus major which they are also calling Honey Bush. From my internet search it appears to be a South African native. While several sites mention it attracts bees and several mention that the plant itself is poisonous, only one mentions nectar/honey and that claims the honey is black and considered toxic. Anyone know this plant?

Third is Melittis melissophyllum "Royal Velvet Distinction" also called Bastard Balm. I can't find anything online except that it "attracts bees" - this one is quite a beautiful plant - almost like an orchid. The "melisso-" part of the name and the common name of "balm" give me hope that this might be a good garden/bee plant.

Finally - I adore Hellebores especially since they bloom so very early - sometimes in Feb! Anyone know if the bees will work them? Obviously I am not planting fields of them but it would be nice for them to have something little to work between the heaths/heathers and the maples and these might fit the bill?

If no one knows these, maybe I'll bite the bullet myself and update you next season!

- Jess
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reinbeau
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2009, 08:23:04 AM »

I know there has been a lot of discussion about bee plants but I am wondering about a few plants I am completely unfamiliar with. I am sure they are not for large foraging areas like phacelia or buckwheat would be but they are attractive to me for having in my garden. All of these are from Heronswood Nursery's catalog - they have great and unusual stuff!

First is Chocolate cosmos (Cosmos astrosanguineus) - the catalog claims it is perennial - not that is self sows but that it actually comes back as a perennial clump. True?
Chocolate cosmos is actually a dahlia, if you can perennially grow dahlias then yes, it will come back from the roots, if not, you'll have to pull it and keep it over the winter.

Quote
Next we've got Melianthus major which they are also calling Honey Bush. From my internet search it appears to be a South African native. While several sites mention it attracts bees and several mention that the plant itself is poisonous, only one mentions nectar/honey and that claims the honey is black and considered toxic. Anyone know this plant?
  I've actually read about this plant but haven't grown it, but for me it definitely would be a greenhouse plant, it's a South African native, thus it's growing more in the winter, not a good thing for those of us with cold and snow.
[quoteThird is Melittis melissophyllum "Royal Velvet Distinction" also called Bastard Balm. I can't find anything online except that it "attracts bees" - this one is quite a beautiful plant - almost like an orchid. The "melisso-" part of the name and the common name of "balm" give me hope that this might be a good garden/bee plant.[/quote]This is a member of the mint family, I've not seen it grown up around here, where it's a Great Britian native I'm betting it isn't hardy for me here, but it may be for you, depends on your zone.

Quote
Finally - I adore Hellebores especially since they bloom so very early - sometimes in Feb! Anyone know if the bees will work them? Obviously I am not planting fields of them but it would be nice for them to have something little to work between the heaths/heathers and the maples and these might fit the bill?
I have to say I've not seen honeybees working hellabores, doesn't mean they don't, I've just not seen it.
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2009, 04:50:38 PM »

On the topic of unusual plants for bees, I found a seed mix for Honey Bees. It comes from Territorial Seeds and contains the following.

Honey Bee Flower Mix
Forget-Me-Not, Chinese
Forget-Me-Not
Baby Blue-Eyes
Wallflower, Siberian
Poppy, California
Cosmos
Poppy, Corn
Gaillardia, Annual
Mignonete, Common
Beeplant, Rocky Mountain
Gilia, Globe
Prairie clover, Purple
Rockcress, White
Coreopsis, Plains
Coreopsis, Lance Leaved

Black-Eyed Susan
Coneflower, Purple
Daisy, Fleabane
Bergamot

Aster, New England

I've highlighted ones that I have No clue about. Coreopsis could work but I wouldn't plant them over other things like Sunflowers.
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tillie
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 05:22:01 PM »

Other "bee balms" like crimson monarda tend to attract the bumblebee much more than the honeybee.

Linda T in Atlanta
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Jessaboo
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2009, 10:52:37 PM »

Hey MILTA -

As Reinbeau and I have talked about in previous posts - the problem with the Territorial Seed mix is not what's in it but that they insist on using common names instead of botanical! That said, it does seem like a nice diverse mix - did you order any? Did you see the mix that Seth found? That one looks good, too. I am very anxious to have some phacelia this year so I bought a bunch of it.

Baby Blue Eyes is probably what is also called bachelor's button or cornflower Centaurea cyanus
Siberian Wallflower is Cheiranthus allionii but there is also an English wallflower which is Cheiranthus cheiri and is also a good bee plant.
Bergamot is the bee balms - Monardas - I'd have to agree I've seen many more bumbles than honeys on these.
Globe Gilia is Gilia capitata
White Rockcresss might be Arabis alpina
I don't know what Common Mignonete or Rocky Mountain Beeplant are - I am sure Google will tell us!

I just ordered a lot of seeds (like really a lot - like I need that stimulus check...) and among them were the wallflowers and a few more monardas. We'll see how they do!

- Jess

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Cindi
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 11:18:50 AM »

Baby Blue Eyes is in the Forget-Me-not family, if I am not mistaken.  Bees love Bachelors Button (Centarurea)

They also love Mignontte, and Mignoette has the most INCREDIBLE perfume you could ever imagine!!!

Garlic chives, another extremely fragrant flower that comes in the second year and thereafter with garlic chives, the first year, no flower



Mignonette in all its glory with the bees!!!



Never seen any honeybees on the "balms", whether it is lemon, bee, none, but the bombus LOVE them

Wallflowers, whether it is the Chieranthus allioni (beautiful and extremely fragrant orange blossoms), are highly attractive to honeybees and beneficials

Rarely see any bees on the coneflowers

Bees LOVE the Blanket Flower (aka Gaillardia)



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