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ROACHMAN 

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I'm a bit confused

I was considering planting some flowers to provide food for the bees next year.

It has occured to me that as honey bees only work one type of flower at a time unlike bumble bees that move from one flower to the next regardless of type, unless you planted a huge number of the same flower the honey bees will ignore them and stick with the main honey plants of clover, dandelions etc that are found in abundance.

Am I correct in thinking that its a waste of time planting for bees in an average sized garden, Why do bee books state that urban gardens are better that country gardens when the main honey sources are far more abundant in the countryside?


James:party-smiley-039:
 

tonybloke 

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I'm a bit confused

I was considering planting some flowers to provide food for the bees next year.

It has occured to me that as honey bees only work one type of flower at a time unlike bumble bees that move from one flower to the next regardless of type, unless you planted a huge number of the same flower the honey bees will ignore them and stick with the main honey plants of clover, dandelions etc that are found in abundance.

Am I correct in thinking that its a waste of time planting for bees in an average sized garden, Why do bee books state that urban gardens are better that country gardens when the main honey sources are far more abundant in the countryside?


James:party-smiley-039:
plant a load of crocus for early pollen source, and a willow tree.
 

the naked beekeeper 

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In urban areas, not only is it warmer (urban heat island) but quite often you have nectar giving trees and shrubs in parks and lining street avenues, such as linden trees.

In the country side, quite often the land is agriculture for cereals, cattle/sheep grazing. The hedgerows are good though.

In terms of planting for bees in a garden. Since you can't significantly affect the local foraging crop that much, unless you can plant trees or have an acre of clover and dandelion, the best thing you can do is plant for early pollen and nectar when it is usually scarce. That singlehandedly will help the bees more than planting any single shrub or so in the common garden. eg. crocus, snowdrop, mahonia, christmas rose, winter aconite.

By and large though, it is good to plant single bloom, annual flowering plants for the bees in the summer, if you really want to try and help. eg. calendula, sunflowers, poached egg plant, if you have limited space. As annual plants, really put an oomph into their flowering and hence nectar as they need pollination to ensure propagation. On a larger scale, shrubs like hebe, escallonia, mediterranean herbs and also echinops are all helpful and any of the 'lamiacae' family.
 

Cazza 

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I'm a bit confused

Am I correct in thinking that its a waste of time planting for bees in an average sized garden, Why do bee books state that urban gardens are better that country gardens when the main honey sources are far more abundant in the countryside?
:
Flowering shrubs and trees will clearly have more impact than flowers but even a few plants of favoured varieties will help. I plant in 5's and 7's and entice lots of honeybees into my garden.
Cazza
 

oliver90owner 

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when the main honey sources are far more abundant in the countryside?

That premise does not hold water!

The countryside is now littered with large, even colossal, areas of monocrops; some that are totally useless for the honeybee and some that can give a huge crop.

Unfortunately the second category only last for, say, 3-4 weeks at most. Then what? The bees could survive for the rest of the year on the proceeds of that short season, but we, the beekeepers, want some, or most of that excess. That means honey harvested from OSR (has to be taken early or it will quickly granulate) probably needs replacing with sugar syrup shortly thereafter, if the colony is not to starve. The alternative for most beekeepers is to move the colony to another site and another crop - migratory beekeeing. Bees in a large area of OSR/wheat/barley rotation (or others) do not do well. The mono-crop cannot be seen to be good for them either.

So urban (or even village) bees which perhaps cannot get a large flow on any particular crop have a continuous small flow thoughout the summer season are better positioned for a good average 'mixed' crop for the winter survival and a surplus for the beekeeper.

'Little and often' is better than 'glut and dearth'. The urban bees can satisfy the urban pollination much more comprehensively, than a couple of colonies for a twenty acre field of OSR. OSR, although producing nectar and with coloured flowers, is ~90% self pollinating in the large planted blocks. it would not be, given isolated plants, as in the wild, in nature.

So, your few flowers, while not giving a great deal to the honey bees is, vitally, a small part of a much bigger network, a similar system to what the bees have serviced, very effectively, over millions of years before man took up agriculture.

If the small groups were not pollinated (and nectar/pollen collected by the bees), there would be no flowers and no bees! Chicken and egg situation? That has obviously not happened. Man, in recent times, has upset the equilibrium of long past millenia. Surprise, surprise (reminds me of the 'old sage ape' in 'Planet of the Apes' where he says something like 'Man, the harbinger of all evil (or death?)'.

Anyway any plants for bees will be gratefully accepted and serviced by the bees, if there any left in your locale.

Regards, RAB
 
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Monsieur Abeille 

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(reminds me of the 'old sage ape' in 'Planet of the Apes' where he says something like 'Man, the harbinger of all evil (or death?)'.
From IMDB: Cornelius: [reading from the sacred scrolls of the apes] Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.
 

madasafish 

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We have planted for bees in our garden for at least 10 years. The only honeybees we see on our flowers are ours. Prior to my starting beeking this year, there were no honeybees at all locally within 1/2 miles.

(lots of bumbles)
 

oliver90owner 

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Thanyou for that quote, Monsieur. My memory is roughly OK, but it is getting a bit crammed in there now!

OK, that was written by humans for a film, but it is not that far wrong as a summary of man.

Regards, RAB
 

Beezy 

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I think it's still worth planting bee-friendly plants in the urban garden, even if they do find most of their nectar/pollen in the parks. I grow echinacea, lavender, alliums & thyme, which were covered with my own honeybees in summer (as well as winter ones like sedums)...
 

mbc 

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[QUOTE=ROACHMAN;9077
Am I correct in thinking that its a waste of time planting for bees in an average sized garden, Why do bee books state that urban gardens are better that country gardens when the main honey sources are far more abundant in the countryside?


No. Through most of the season a staggering variety of pollens will be collected on any given day. Individual foragers may concentrate on one type of flower but with so many foragers going about their business virtually all flowers in a given area around a colony will get investigated and bees do like a bit of variety, even in the middle of hundreds of acres of flowering osr a good percentage of pollen observed entering the hive will be from other flowers.
 

Dishmop 

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We have planted for bees in our garden for at least 10 years. The only honeybees we see on our flowers are ours. Prior to my starting beeking this year, there were no honeybees at all locally within 1/2 miles.

(lots of bumbles)
I never see any of my bees on the flowers in the garden, but they will fly around the front of the house and look at what is there..
 

oliver90owner 

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I never see any of my bees on the flowers in the garden, but they will fly around the front of the house

Bees do not generally forage within about 15 m of their hive - a defence mechanism of days gone by, maybe? The exceptions are very early in springtime when flights need to be short and productive.

The answer to that might be to have one hive at the back and another at the front, then all your flowers might be visited by your bees.

If that is an impractical solution, take solace in that your back garden flower situation may be duplicated by adjacent beekeepers, thus, on average, all benefit by a similar amount .

RAB
 

Dishmop 

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If that is an impractical solution, take solace in that your back garden flower situation may be duplicated by adjacent beekeepers, thus, on average, all benefit by a similar amount .
Cant say that I have ever noticed a great deal of any bees (apart from bumbles) around here at all, least of all in my garden. Odd one or two looking about and doing a circuit but they might have been mine programming their GPS.
 

justme 

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hi, i'm in the process of moving the majority of plants from the back of the house to the front, i will then plant my veg at the back. Iv also planted several (250) crocus close to each (2) apiary and we have a 25 ft willow at home and loads at other apiary. Certainly worth planting for bees. Seems like august flowerr would be useful though:.)
 

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