PHOTOS: ANDREW COTÉ FOR EDIBLE MANHATTAN
ARTICLE: California Native Plants that Bees Can’t Resist
by Bob Sussman – matilijanursery.com
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not.” -Yogi Berra
There are tons of books, articles on the web, and scientific info. that will tell you what plants attract bees and why. Some info. will tell you to plant flowers that have purple, yellow, or white flowers to draw more bees to the garden. Well some purple flowers attract more than others and bees aren’t supposed to see red yet some red flowering plants attract plenty of bees. Truth is most flowering plants do indeed attract bees since most plants are pollenated by bees.
In the bee attraction business sometimes theory and practice diverge. Some flowers draw more bees than others and you can see it, those are the ones you want for your garden. You want the flowers that cause the bees to go “beemanic”. Here’s a list of the big “5” bee attractants at the nursery, this may not jibe with scientific theory but in practice it works.
Abutilon palmeri-a desert native and a member of the mallow family, it gets covered with orange- gold poppy colored flowers. They flower from spring through fall require full sun and are about 3’ x 4’. They seem to benefit for an annual trimming. Check these out.
Galvezia – Island Snapdragon- there are a few species and selections of Galvezia but they all come from either the Channel Islands off the coast of California or Cedros Island off the coast of Mexico. The Galvezia’s vary in size but are roughly 3’x3’, generally grow in semi-shade to full sun, flower from spring through fall. Their red tube flowers also attract hummingbirds. The Galviezia in the picture is Galvezia ‘Gran Canon’ and it flowers than most of the other verities, while they attract several types of bees this is the only one that would sit still long enough for me to focus the camera.
Sphaeralcea-Desert Mallows grow throughout the southwest and Mexico. They can range in color from red to light pink. While there is some variation in size, roughly 4’ x 4’ will be a pretty close approximation of what it will do in your garden. We grow mostly the orange flowering verity at the nursery we also have the pink flowering verity growing too and they seem to prefer the pink to the orange.
Romenya coulteri-Matilija Poppy- The Matilija poppy has the largest flowers of any poppy in the poppy family. It can be a large perennial shrub and its native range is from Monterey County to Baja Mexico growing sporatically about 30+/- inland from the Pacific Ocean. They are spring flowering but with a bit of watering the flowering can be extended through summer.
Monardella odoratissima-Mountain Mint-Mountain Beebalm-is a small growing perennial with purple to lavender flowers and a very strong minty fragrance. It’s got to be a big nectar and pollen producer because they attract all kinds of bees and butterflies. In nature they grow from California to Washington and inland as far as Utah. They flower from spring through fall if you occasionally deadhead – chop back the old flowers and leggy growth.
I know there are lots of lists of plants that attract bees but the bees at our nursery fly by many of those to land, collect nectar, and pollen from these. Why? I couldn’t tell you the scientific reason this is only the observation, the bees know and they aren’t saying!
To see the bees performing live you can check out our YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/matilija8225?feature=results_main
Or even better come down to the nursery, pop the truck, and take some of these home for your garden and watch the beeeeeeeeessss!
(For more information go to www.matilijanursery.com)
ARTICLE: Close Quarters With Honey Bees
By the way, we have about 8,000 honey bees in our living room.
As conversation-starters go, this is one of our better ones. And it’s true – we do have about 8,000 honey bees in our living room – give or take 1,000. Thankfully they are all very safely contained, with a clear path directly to the out-of-doors.
We started keeping bees in spring 2011. Our interest was partially driven by the plight of the honeybees, and partially by our own curiosity. However, we also wanted to help foster our little homesteady ecosystem. Thanks to my husband’s organic green thumb, we have a number of blueberry, currant, and raspberry bushes around the property, as well as apple trees, plum trees, peach trees, grape vines, hazelnut bushes, asparagus, cherry trees, and a big garden as well. Although the honeybees do not pollinate all of these different species, they do hit some of them – and it’s nice to know that we’re also helping out native wildflowers.
Our bees are and always have been raised treatment-free. They are a more persnickety variety, but this breed is apparently more resistant to varroa mites – one of the many things thought to be contributing to colony collapse – and generally hardier. As much as possible, our hope is to help keep an organic, more natural balance on our property.
Back to the bees in our living room. During the winter, my husband decided to build an observation hive to hang in our living room. This is a glass-walled hive that gives a clear view to 3 frames of bees. I was leery of the idea, but it has proven to be an amazing experience. It has frequently been our go-to evening entertainment. The kids have been deeply intrigued, and love to spend time looking for the queen, seeing what has changed, and telling our guests all about our observation hive.
During their time in our living room, we have watched:
the bees make a new queen
the new queen kill off the 2 dozen or so other potential queens
the colony population triple
Queenie (our pet name for the queen) lay eggs
the drone (male bee) population die out and new ones take their places
new bees eat their way out of their brood cells
bees making honey
bees feeding larvae
and so much more!
The observation hive has been an invaluable tool teaching us how to better care for our bees, and has given our young kids a unique education that they can share with friends and family.
Thank you Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council for UNANIMOUSLY voting in support of URBAN BEEKEEPING IN LOS ANGELES tonight!! YAY BEES!!!
PLEASE TAKE 30 SECONDS TO SIGN OUR PETITION (you do not need to live in Los Angeles to sign):
Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils that officially support our urban beekeeping motion so far!! ?
1. Mar Vista (11/8/11)
2. Del Rey (12/8/11)
3. Greater Griffith Park (1/17/12)
4. South Robertson (1/19/12)
5. Silver Lake (3/7/12)
6. Hollywood United (3/19/12)
7. Atwater Village (4/12/12)
8. West Los Angeles (6/27/12)
9. Boyle Heights (7/25/12)
10. Lake Balboa (8/1/12)
Bees ? Thai Basil -
Thai Basil is another honey bee approved plant for your garden! It is a type of sweet basil (native to Southeast Asia) and has “purple-flushed, lance-like leaves with a sweet licorice scent”(1). When it is blooming you’ll see bees busily buzzing around it and drinking nectar all day long!
In general, bees seem to gravitate towards blue and purple flowers, and Thai Basil is a great example of this! Click here to view a list of other bee-friendly plants!
[Thank you thewhimsicalgardener.com for letting us post your beautiful photos!]
WATCH: Urban Beekeeping in Amsterdam
You don’t have to speak Dutch to understand this video – “Yay Bees!”
We are really excited to invite you to this month’s HoneyLove Workshop:
OUR 2ND ANNUAL WAX SYMPOSIUM!
8/11/12 @ Cella Gallery in North Hollywood
Topics include: DIY Wax Foundation & Starter Strips, Beeswax Candles, Solar Wax Melters…
Come and get your hands dirty with us!!
FREE!! All ages welcome!!
If you’re trying to raise money to save puppies or kittens or other adorable creatures, it’s simple. You find the cutest ones around, snap a few photos, get rights to a Sarah McLachlan song, throw some information up about where to send donations, and bam! Work’s done. But bees? A creature that mostly elicits the emotion of run-away-as-fast-as-you-can? They’re not exactly the easiest sell.
Which is the problem that’s been keeping Chelsea and Rob McFarland — husband-and-wife team behind the non-profit organization HoneyLove — busy for the past 18 months. Their goal of trying to make Los Angeles the latest city to legally allow urban beekeeping — in this regard, L.A. is a bit behind the curve; New York, San Francisco, Seattle and even Santa Monica are among the growing list of cities that allows beekeepers within city limits — isn’t an easy one.
Rick: Is there evidence you’ve seen that the disappearance of they honeybees is slowing down or stopping?
Chelsea: We have not seen the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder in our hives. We believe this is because the city is the last refuge of the honeybee. Traditional agriculture has put bees in to a tight spot for many reasons — pesticides, antibiotics, miticides, trucking bees across the country, feeding them high fructose corn syrup instead of allowing them to eat their natural honey, placing contaminated beeswax foundations in their hives… too many reasons to list!
As organic urban beekeepers we do not do any of that. Our home gardens are generally free of pesticides, and in cities like Los Angeles, there is year-round availability of pollen and nectar for the honeybees.
See more – and take the poll – here!
Click here to sign our petition to legalize urban beekeeping in Los Angeles:
**You do not need to live in LA to sign!
Help us save the honey bees!!
Your contribution directly supports the educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees. HoneyLove is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible.