This is a favorite area of beekeeping for us here at Dave's Bees and is
largely responsible for our starting beekeeping in the first place. These
are known honeybee plants and will usually satisfy requirements for multiple
pollinators but we are focused on the honeybees. Expect these plant pages
to grow and check back often to see what we have added.
Berries are a favorite for us and the bees.
Heritage Raspberries are my favorite for a couple of reasons. These plants are ever bearing and therefore have berries and blooms at the same time. You get to pick the delicious berries while your bees are working all around you. I bought 12 plants and by the second year I had all the berries I could eat and also froze a few. I pick in the afternoon for the next morning's breakfast. If you have limited space then the berries can be planted in a small clump and you'll have a few berries and blossoms for you and the bees.
If you prefer to start your own raspberries on the super economy then Raspberry Seeds are the way to go. No matter how you start them the bees love them and raspberries make great honey.
Silver Maple is really one of the first trees available to bees; as early as late February here in Ohio (zone 6). Just start looking for clusters of flowers before anything else in your area and it is probably a silver maple. The tree has a wide range including most of the area east of the Mississippi River and is a very fast grower. If you have them close to your bees and the weather is warm enough they will find them. If you don’t have any nearby and have room for some giant trees then here is a source. Silver Maple Seedlings
Yellow Poplar or Tuliptree is a great honey producer. This is a tree that ranges most of the area east of the Mississippi River but grows well many other places. My father has one in Maine that is doing well. It is a fast grower and produces huge flowers that resemble tulips at an early age. Yellow Poplar Seedlings
Black Locust is very fast growing and blooms young. This is a great honey tree and will grow in many places. It is short lived but makes great firewood and fence posts, so you can plant it in a few rows each year and have a supply of nectar, firewood and fence posts. Black Locust Seedlings
Pussy Willow - Salix caprea - This is a very early tree that we find bees on in the spring. They are so early that the bees will be frantically collecting pollen on warm days. It is fun watching them work this tree and they look like they stay until they are just plain overloaded with pollen.
Virtually any of the Herbs are great plants for honeybees and we can use them too. We love the dual purpose plants that stay close to the kitchen so we can visit with the bees while we are collecting the herbs.
Oregano is a tough perennial and the bees stay on it for 3 weeks or more.
Lemon Balm or melissa officinalis is another great honeybee plant that is a perennial loved by bees.
Borage is an annual that self seeds quite well and provides nicely for the bees.
Basil This is our favorite for salads and cooking so this is the one the bees get at Dave's Bees. But....you can use any variety of basil and the treatment will be the same. You have to pick off the blossoms on the plants you use and leave them to bloom on the plants the bees use. Plant more for the bees than yourself.
Search Organic Herbs
Coneflower - Echinacea This is a plant that really lasts and spreads on it's own. The picture on the top left is echinacea. When I took the picture the bumbles were working right alongside the honeybees.
Anise Hyssop or Agastache foeniculum is another easy to grow plant for bees that we can use for tea. This is a particularly good producer of nectar.
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Phacelia tanacetifolia or Lacy Phacelia is one of Phil Chandler's (biobees.com) favorites. I'm planning on planting some this year.
Buckwheat is easy to plant and grow for the bees. You can plant it about 6 weeks prior to when you want the bees to have it for forage. I found bees working on mine at 5 weeks but they will really be working it hard by 6 weeks. So if you expect an August dearth then plant in early July for the bees to forage mid to late August. You could also use successive plantings to continue until frost.