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10 plants to attract (and feed) honeybees
Whether you have a small balcony or a big garden, it’s time to plant flowers to attract and feed honeybees, even in the city.
The current historical situation is not particularly positive for the insects with the black and yellow patterning. Essential for flower pollination, honeybees are rapidly decreasing in number worldwide. So, here is a (incomplete) list with some essences and flowers to grow in order to provide them with pollen and nectar all year long.
“The best plants you can choose to cultivate are those useful for a number of reasons, for example those you can utilise in cooking”, suggests Michele Tagliabue, beekeeper and technician at Apilombardia. “And other plants either edible or not that are easy to grow and species with beautiful and colourful flowers that decorate our balconies and gardens”.
Seasonal. First of all you should choose seasonal plants that bloom in the spring, summer and autumn. In this way, you can feed honeybees during all the growing season, increasing the presence of these precious pollinators.
Many varieties. Choose flowers of different colours and dimensions. Honeybees are generalist species that love many varieties of flowers. Filling flower beds with one plant species, you will help honeybees to recognise it even from long distances.
Tulip. Tulipa sp. Tulips, in the Liliaceae family, are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. You must plant the bulb during the cold months that remains quiescent during the winter. It has a fascinating history: many noble families in the XIX century were ruined because they spent all their money to buy the rarest bulbs, such as the famous black tulip.
Chives. Allium schoenoprasum. An annual plant of the Liliaceae family which blooms in the spring. Honeybees are really greedy for its light purple flowers. It is also cultivated to be used in cooking and to flavor many dishes.
Rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis. Perennial Mediterranean plant. This hardy plant is easily grown and it is cold resistant. The sprigs, with their scented leaves, bloom during the spring and have flowers with colours ranging from blue to pale violet. If you approach a rosemary shrub in this period of the year you will hear it buzz.
Borage. Borago officinalis. Annual plant used in farming and horticulture as a pesticide as well as in cooking. It is easy to grow, even in a pot. Its starry and deep blue flowers attract bees because of their large amount of nectar.
Sage. Salvia officinalis. This perennial shrub grows quickly under the sun. Honeybees are drawn by its blue-purple flowers, situated at the end of the stalk.
Lavender. Lavandula officinalis. This hardy plant is able to adapt to the Mediterranean climate conditions. In fact, it is grown in flower beds and public parks. Its blue-purple flowers, with their unmistakable scent, will flood the lavender fields all summer long. Cultivate a lavender shrub and honeybees will appreciate it.
Basil. Ocimum basilicum. A renowned herb widely used in cooking. But did you know that it attracts many insects including honeybees? Its white flowers bloom in the summer and with their shape that recalls a goblet, they seem to invite these precious pollinators to a banquet.
Phlox. This perennial and decorative plant has colourful flowers that can adorn your balconies, gardens and even small flower beds.
Topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke. Heliantus tuberosus. It belongs to the family of the sunflower, it also grows spontaneously and it blooms in October with bright yellow flowers. It is cultivated since the pre-Columbian era and today its edible root is used in cooking.
Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum sp. It is a perennial and cold-resistant plant that can even be cultivated in a pot. In October and November, in the regions with temperate climate, it produces flowers of different colours. Bright red, golden yellow, lilac. It provides feed to honeybees, before hibernation.
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