Bees - Garden Gossip - Smith "Nature Friendly" Farm

Go to content

Main menu:

Medicinal plants for Bees

Published by Jollean Smith in Bees · 4/6/2019 14:13:30
Tags: BeesSaveMedicinalPlantsFlowers

Just like humans, bees need nutritious plants. That tropical plant from Asia may look stunning on your patio and may even be visited by a bee, but it may not be providing the bees the nutrition they need to fight off disease.

First, it’s important to understand that there are many things making life for bees very difficult.

Pesticides - Makes them weak and/or kills them.
Disease - Makes them weak and/or kills them.
Loss of native habitat - The bees need proper food and nutrition to be strong enough to fight off 1 and 2, loss of habitat means less natural plants.

For example, a honey bee colony does not usually get wiped out in one fell swoop. In fact, it is slowly killed off by a process of slow weakening.

Let's take a look at the slow weakening:
1. A healthy bee colony can become more weakened from chemicals, poor nutrition, cold snaps and parasites.
2. When a be becomes sick it will fly off away from the hive to protect the hive.
3. If a large number of bee’s are sick and fly away, natural hive maintenance behaviours cannot continue.
4. When a hive loses bees, it becomes a vicious cycle. There are less bees to complete the tasks that keep the remaining bees healthy, such as cool the hive or provide food for young bees.

Eventually, the colony will die.

This is even harder on native bees. These bese don’t always operate in large colonies. They may just have one bee or a few bees and not 50,000 bees like the honey bee. They will face all the same impacts, but with significantly less bees to sacrifice per se. There is much less of a chance for recovery which is why native bees are endangered.

How can you help?
1. Add more native plants to your garden. Let those native flowers that show up in your yard, grow! Or research native plants from a reputable source
2. For love of bees stop using pesticides. Fight against your community associations who do mass spraying of pesticides for things like mosquitoes. These are weakening your bees. Back away from the Round Up or whatever new fancy name they come up with for weed killers.
3. Plant medicinal flowers. Bees need flowers that help them fight disease. If they are weakened by a parasite research shows that bees will go to certain plants that help them fight it. See a list of a few below.
4. Be super careful with your big box store plants. Although there is increasing pressure on greenhouses and retailers to provide plants free of chemicals, it is still out there. So many of those pretty plants are grown with chemicals such as neonics which impact a bees immune system. I am still trying to get a straight answer from Proven Winners on if their seeds are neonics free. They keep skirting around a direct yes or no. Ideally, get your plants from a native plant store who specializes in chemical free flowers. You can also grow your own from chemical free seed (check your seed supplier carefully) or practice cultivating flowers that grow naturally. If the greenhouse cannot assure you that their plants did not originate from chemical free seeds, walk away.

Here are a couple of plants that offer medicinal benefits to bees:

Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Full sun and moist soil.
Medicinal value: Offers bees iridoid glycosides which is important in helping bumblees fight off parasites.
Buy seeds: Prairie Moon Nursery, Joyful Butterfly and Swallowtail Seeds.


Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils.
Medicinal value: Offers bumble bees help with reducing pathogens.
Buy seeds: Seed Needs, Swallowtail Seeds and Bakers Creek Seeds.

Purple Giant Hyssop
Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils. I find it drought tolerant.
Medicinal value: Relief from parasitic infections.
Buy seeds: Prairie Moon Nursery, Select Seeds and Everwilde Farms.

Common Yarrow
Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils.
Medicinal value: Relief from parasitic infections.
Buy seeds: Bakers Creek Seeds, Swallowtail Seeds and American Meadows.

For a longer list of flowers and further information please read an excellent article written by Becca Redomski-Bush. Some information in my blog today was learned from her facinating page.

Thanks for being here with us.

We love to be liked!
Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Want to read more?
See how I turned all of this into a Bee Bar, keep reading!

Bee Bar

Published by Jollean Smith in Bees · 26/5/2019 21:48:23
Tags: BeeBarGardenFlowerNative

I want to share with you a virtual tour of my latest project, the Bee Bar. This is where the Bees can go, to get a buzz!  Where nectar is always on tap. Well not really on tap, but you get the theme. The Bee Bar is actually a fun and interesting space in the garden, that has an important purpose to help native bees.

We have a home that we purchased a year ago that has a very American/Canadian type of yard, mostly lawn. A giant green patch of mowing space. I am not a fan of the massive green lawn. Don’t get me wrong I like patches of lawn, but massive areas just for mowing, make no sense to me. The turf lawn is a costly, time waster with no benefits to nature. My challenge, my husband is a lawn lover. Gasp! He doesn’t have time to mow but he does like the lawn and mowing it.

(Look at all that lawn! It's just half of it.)

Slowly over time, what I am doing is carving out flower beds and creating natural habitats, one square at a time. I feel like, if these new squares appear slowly, I can ease my husband into the ever declining green space and the ever growing native space.

What’s in the Bee Bar?

(It is hard to see all the flowers packed into the space, as many are seedlings or have yet to sprout.)

Along with some humour around bar related topics, this Bee Bar is planted with bee benefits and a little education. Each flower has been carefully selected to serve an important purpose.

1. Provide the most nutrient rich native flowers.
2. Offer a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the year.
3. Grow flowers that provide bees with medicinal value.

The bed does not look like much right now because most of what is planted was done recently by seed. There are only two greenhouse plants in the mix. Many flowers you buy at the big box stores are still being treated we chemicals such as neonics, which wreak havec on a bees immune system. As the Bee Bar grows this summer it will fill in quite a bit.

Here is what is planted:
Asters - Prolific bloomers offering a bounty of fall flowers.
Gaillardia - Native to North America, long summer bloomers.
Echinacea - Also Native to North America, drought tolerant, long summer/fall bloomer.
Agastache - Drought tolerant, Native flower with medicinal value to Bee’s. It contains secondary metabolites. These secondary metabolites are used by Bee’s to help fight intestinal parasites that they may commonly get.
Yarrow - Drought tolerant, Native flower also has medicinal value to bee’s with secondary metabolites.
Cleome - Native North American plant that blooms in the summer.
Camellia - Winter blooming.
Red Clover - A big nectar provider for bees. Also good for the soil as its a nitrogen fixer.

I have also moved some unidentified native flowers that have popped up in walking path areas, into the Bee Bar. As I see the holes in the Bee Bar I will continue to add in a few more flowers until I just have no choice but to expand. Poor hubby!

(The watering hole. One of the worker bees sole jobs is to collect water for the hive.)

The Bee Bar comes complete with signage for visitors and an actual bee watering hole. I am not sure the watering hole actually attracts many bees, but my bird bath not far away does.

Why bother? It’s just one yard.

One acre of wildflower meadow on a single day can contain three million flowers, producing 1Kg of nectar - enough to support nearly 96,000 honeybees per day, according to Plantlife.”1

That is why I bother. Even if I had half an acre or a quarter, the impact to bees is substantial. It’s my goal to support 96,000 bees one day and the Bee Bar is just the beginning.

Consider adding a Bee Bar to your garden. Show off your creativity and share it with us. Once this fills in I will share an updated picture.

Next up is the butterfly garden. I will need to get thinking on how that one will be creatively displayed, but I already have the plants ready for seeding. Stay tuned for that.

Thanks for being here with us.

We love to be liked!
Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Keep reading:
Learn how some flowers are harming bees.

Back to content | Back to main menu