Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Late Season Bee Food
Old fashioned single mixed hollyhocks were a strong favourite which hardily endured many light frosts.
Calendula also tolerated frost, but wasn't as popular as the other flowers. Bees visited the flowers, but not as much as I expected...
Giant hyssop was a HUGE hit! It's the bushy plant with purple spires in the above picture (it looks like lavender). We sat on our front verandah and happily watched the bees work the blooms for hours. I highly recommend this plant for it's LONG bloom time and frost resistance.
Sunflowers are another important late season food for bees and of course the birds love them, too. We sadly had mice eat most of our planted seed but a few plants did make it! Our neighbour had a huge show of sunflowers, so that certainly helped our bees out.
Lastly, catmint is hands down the bee favourite! We have 2 large plants in this back garden (right and left in the above picture) and 4 more very large plants by the greenhouse. These were strategically planted to attract the cats to the greenhouse perimeter to help keep the mice from getting in (it worked!). These 6 plants were CONSTANTLY covered in bees from sunrise to sunset right through the entire blooming season (which only recently ended late in Autumn).
We noted that our honey has a slight minty, licorice-y, citrus-y taste to it and I was reminded of the flavour when I was cutting back the plants on Sunday... it's amazing how honey tastes like our gardens :)
Even if you don't keep bees, I strongly encourage you to plant a few species specifically to help feed bees in Autumn. A quick google search can identify what plants you can grow for bees - they will thank you for it.