Bees have evolved together with nectar- and pollen-bearing plants, indeed the entire colony development depends on the availability of flowering plants as a source of food. The bee uses nectar as a source of carbohydrate and pollen as a source of protein. A large part of the current crisis facing all bees is the lack of suitable forage due to intensive agriculture, widespread growing of cereal crops and monoculture. Many of our hedgerows have been removed; wild flowers are sprayed as a means of weed control and improvement of grazing land with nitrogen fertiliser has meant that most of the indigenous meadow flowers fail to thrive. Beekeeping is now more profitable in towns and villages than it is in the countryside.
The list below gives an indication of plants that are attractive and useful to honeybees throughout the year. The list is courtesy of Chris Wilks. Please click here for a link for extended lists of bee friendly plants.
Plants of use to honey bees through the year:
February: Lesser Celandine, Snowdrop, Crocus, Hazel, Box
March: Elm, Gorse, Fruit trees, Hawthorn, Soft fruits, Willow
April: Dandelion, Oil seed rape, Bluebell
May: Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Holly, Cotoneaster, Dead Nettle, Broom, Ragweed, Rosebay Willow Herb, Charlock, White Bryony, Mustard
June: Field Beans, White clover, Privet, Lime, Sanfoin, Blackberry, Thyme, Vipers Bugloss, Borage
July: Sweet Chestnut, Knapweed, Red Clover, Birdsfoot trefoil, Old Man’s Beard, Buckwheat, Melilot (sweet clover), Thistle, Marjoram, Poppy
Click here for more details on the plants.