Scientists who study bee diets have noticed that they’ll generally select the most nutritious plants, making them the envy of parents everywhere. As we all power through mid-week, today I’d like to call out that workhorse of bee plants, the Lamiaceae, or Mint family.
Study after study around the world, including our work at Davis, has shown that this group of plants is preferred by many bee species. This is especially noteworthy because these plants’ pollen is not accessible to bees. That must be some really tasty, quality nectar.
Suggested plants in this family include any herbs, catmint, lavender, and rosemary. Most attractive in our studies was Russian sage, shown here with coneflower. This is a good combination, since the latter is a pollen source.
Observations like this guide us not only as to what to plant in our bee gardens, but allow researchers to focus on groups of plants that may be especially nutritious for bees. By studying the chemistry of these plants, we can learn more about what keeps bees healthy.
Thanks for your support of our part in this important work.
And as an aside, if you grow broccoli in your winter vegetable garden, leave some plants to flower. The pollen is high-protein and a valuable winter food for bees.