bee friendly plants

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Drone Bee
Beekeeping Sponsor
May 12, 2009
Reaction score
North Wilts
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Lots and lots
Hi Guys

I have just set up my second site on the farm and want to now start thinking about landscaping the areas for bees.

at the moment, site 1 is at the top of a hill in the corner of a meadow. It has plenty of Butercups, clover, blackberry and hawthorne with the field lined with primarily lime, oak and a few apple trees, but when (if) we have a summer it gets very hot and dry, but can import a limited amount of water.

Site 2 is surrounded by meadow, except it is near a stream and is on the verge of a swampy area.

the future site 3 is in damp soil and for some reason, there is not a lot of clover and not a huge amount of blackberrys. I think there may be a natural spring weeping which is why the area is always damp. I have left this until last as there does not appear to be as much natural food as the others. (mostly grasses)

I am in the process of planting a few hundred Sunflower seedlings (starting today) on the first two sites, but want to start thinking on a larger and more permanent scale.

I be keeping the fields for hay and sileage, but have large areas dedicated to to the bees and I can do what I like with the very large and wide hedgerows.

I am unsure whether to try and stick to naturally english plants or plant some foreigners amongst them.
Are there any sites that suggest which plants are best for honeybees, both english and garden types plants?
I guess the large swampy area is the most challenging, but am happy to completely re-landscape the stream (which runs for the width of the farm and is very overgrown) and the swampy area to improve conditions.

interesting idea... are they growing well?? When I last planted sunflowers outside they were all robbed by mice and birds.... none survived :(

I started mine off inside and they are now about 5-6 inches tall. Don't think there is an easy way of doing it as I need to strim an area, dig out a clump of grass before sticking the sunflower in the hole.

We are planting them along the fences which they can use for support. I have half a dozen variety's, but mostly the very tall and big headed variety's that need support.

if they do well, we might get the tractor out and plough and plant an acre for next year.
Hedge Pete,

How are the sunflowers that someone planted on your local canal bank?

How about some willow in the boggy area? It'll do well and provide early pollen for the bees.
Sunflowers as individuals need support, but if they are grown in any number, they tend to act as windbreaks for each other, giving mutual support. If additional support is actually needed, connect them together and that mutual support would be actual as a matrix would become quite solid. They are a bit like ankles(?) give them too much support and they become weak. Let them sway in the breeze (when planted in numbers) and they will become all the stronger for it.
do bees go to chestnut flowers? they are not flowering jet but i am walking around eyes open just to see what will be the next foraging plant in my area. got also some lime trees about half a mile from hives.

Yes, there is a nice honey from chestnut which you can buy on the continent. I'm not sure if anyone ever gets enough in the UK to fill jars with it.

The lime near me will be out in perhaps a week. As the ground is damp and good weather coming (isn't it?!) it could be a good year for lime.

Hello Gavin

For about 6 years I used to keep hives near an avenue of 130 mature limes. I never got a skerrick in all that time. They say it's a fickle yielder but in my experience it's even worse than hawthorn.

Lime needs a temperature in the 20s to secrete nectar. I have lots of lime trees near me and I live in hope. I would say they are about 2 weeks from flowering at the moment. The flowering period is short, no more than 2 weeks so it has to coincide with hot weather to produce anything.
Jon, do you know anything about the difference in yield you get from the various species of lime?