|Honeybee on Hellebore|
Anyway, this brief glimpse of sunshine has also made me think about plans for the garden and whether it will look how I want it to look this spring. Most of all, I want to be sure that it's as bee-friendly as it can be. I'm planning to move more beehives back to the smallholding (from the fields) and it's important that there are enough flowers here and in the surrounding area for my honeybees (and other pollinators) to enjoy.
So; here is a wander around the garden (and the smallholding) with a review of all the flowers the bees will forage on from late winter to late spring. I'm also including the flowers I'll be adding to my 'must-plant-this-year' list.
|Crocuses - perfect for bees|
Along the edges of the garden under the trees, I can see that there are several clumps of snowdrops flowering. I've planted them with cyclamens, although these have finished flowering. I'm now considering planting some winter aconites with the snowdrops because I love this combination of white and yellow flowers. The bees will forage on both of them, flying to the aconites when the weather is mild and these little flowers open their petals.
|Wood anemone - loved by pollinators|
In my local woods, bees will forage on wood anemones and bluebells. In the fields they'll be attracted to dandelion. Apparently dandelions mainly release pollen in the mornings, so this is when they'll be particularly attractive to bees. On the edges of some of the fields, which have been cleared over recent years, I've noticed there are still gorse bushes surviving. Gorse is always reliable because it flowers all year.
In the arable fields, my bees will forage on oilseed rape this year. It's been planted close to the smallholding and some of it is flowering already (which won't please the landowner). Bees love this crop - a field of oilseed rape is a real bee-banquet. They become very excited when foraging on it and return to the hive covered in the stuff. They also become very grumpy when the crop has finished flowering, because this plentiful source of food is suddenly no longer available.
Bees also look for flowers in the trees and hedgerows and here, they'll find catkins; apple, pear and cherry blossom, horse chestnut, and blackthorn. I have lots of hawthorn, too, but this doesn't always provide something for bees (it varies from year to year), possibly due to warmth and weather.
Bees love grape hyacinths and wallflowers. I have grape hyacinths due to flower but I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't get around to planting any wallflowers for spring this year. The seeds are still in the packets! I would like to grow lots of wallflowers so this is a must-do for this year. Meanwhile, in my herb garden, I do have plenty of rosemary, which is the best early flowering herb for bees.
|Clematis Montana 'Rubens'|
Close to the house, the bees will be attracted to the clematis montana covering the pergola in April and May. They will love the pyracantha and holly when they flower, too.
So, having reviewed the garden, I'm pleased that my bees and other pollinators will have something to interest them here from now until May. But I'm aiming, next year, to have so much more ready for them.