Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bee Candy

Bees are one of my favorite parts of summer. Really.  Bees say to me that the world is balanced. It's a short-sighted view, I know, what with colony collapse, imported honey bees and the demise of our native bee population. But when I see and hear those fuzzy little honeymakers (and a few of their big bumbling and little shiny cousins) in my garden, the circle seems complete.

I've been watching which plants I see bees visiting this year. Of course, it varies, depending on the time of year and whether the plants are flowering. Sometimes they'll skim right over perfect blossoms they were mad about last week. I imagine it's like the choice between some fabulous Moonstruck chocolates or a bag of M&Ms. The M&M's will do when I have a chocolate craving, but I'd much rather have the Moonstruck chocolate, wouldn't you?

From the hordes of bees on the agastache, I'd guess this is some fine Swiss bee chocolate.

It's a bit hard to see the bees on the agastache in these pictures, but it's even harder to capture them in focus.

Don't look for bees in the photo above. But earlier in spring this snowberry shrub was covered in bees, despite its minute and hard-to-see flowers. Maybe the nectar got stale, or maybe there's just some better chocolate out there now.

McKay's White Potentilla has been blooming for months.  Bees? Naah, they dip down for a quick sniff, then fly right over it.

Lambs Ear is a pass along plant I like for its quick, fuzzy grayness, but they don't have a big future in my garden.

However the local bees act like it's some kind of high-percentage cacao content chocolate from Belgium.

The flowers are so small and hard to see. But the bees seem to find them with no problem.

Lavenders are reliable bee-attractors. Even when the flowers are starting to die down, they remain popular chocolate bars for the striped set.

There's a lot you can learn about attracting bees to your garden. One good website is the Cal State Berkeley Guide to Bee-Friendly Gardening. It has a good list of plants to grow, many of them native. You just might make your garden into the next Teuscher for bees.


  1. Good to know you are a chocolate connoisseur Jane! Like your lambs ear bees are very attracted to the eryngiums in my garden. No real flower (by human standards) but wow...the bees can't get enough (I want to compare to one of the brats in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory but I can't think which one would be most appropriate). Just today I was watching them and feeling lucky that I'm not allergic or have a fear of bees, as they are amazing to see. Thanks for the list of bee candy!

  2. Finally got to cut off the lambs' ears flower stalks yesterday, as the bees have moved on to the lavender. It, too, would have had a haircut by now, but what can one do? Gotta keep those bees happy where we can!

  3. I am slowly learning to love the bees with the help of enthusiasts like you. I don't have as many flowers for them to enjoy, but I get some bees passing through, and I've started to enjoy the life they bring to the garden.

  4. Ooh, what is Moonstruck chocolate? I must find out and consume some! Mmmmmmmm. Nice bee tour. Funny what they like and don't. I want to know more about them and their ways. Love your agastache, I have a few but not in a mass like yours, where it makes more of an impact. My lavender is pretty much done, so we can walk up our steps again without my daughter freaking out that she's going to get stung (none of us every have). We certainly must have some healthy colonies around here, it was bee city for weeks on end!

  5. The ornamental oregano clan is a big hit with the bees in my garden. I always get a lot of satisfaction in seeing the bees happily sipping away on my plants.


Thank you in advance for jumping through the annoying but necessary word verification hoop to leave your thoughts!