Winter is on its way. Just like gardeners, beekeepers will be perusing their new 2015 catalogs. Beekeepers typically look at new equipment to buy and assemble during the winter months. Gardeners are looking at seed and tree catalogs. Beekeepers should take a cue from the gardeners and also look at tree catalogs. Everyone associates bees and flowers, but in reality much of the pollen and nectar gathered by bees is from trees.
Planting trees for the bees is a long term proposition. Unlike flowers which provide pollen and nectar within one (annuals) to two years (perennials), trees typically require several more years before flowering. However, the reward for waiting is a larger source of pollen and nectar as the tree continues to grow each year. In addition trees cool the environment, provide seeds, fruit or nuts for wildlife, and shelter for wildlife. Trees, which grow vertically, provide more pollen and nectar than flowers on the same area of ground.
So for next year think about planting a few bee beneficial trees. Here are a few recommended native trees:
-American Basswood (also called a linden tree)—one of the best sources of pollen and nectar. Old time beekeepers tried to locate their apiaries near basswood do to the heavy honey flow associated with this tree. The Wisconsin DNR occasionally sells basswood seedlings.
-Black locust—A good source of late spring nectar
-Pussy willow—A good source of early spring pollen
-Littleleaf Linden-late summer blooming. A good nectar source.
-Willow—Another source of spring pollen
-Sourwood—Blooms in early summer and is a good source of nectar and pollen
-Catalpa—blooms in late spring
-Southern Magnolia—although primarily known for their flowers they are a good nectar source
-Tulip tree—Sometimes mistaken called a magnolia, it also is a good nectar source.
-Redbud—Good spring pollen source
For more information on trees beneficial to bees do an internet search on the following titles:
--“10 Best North American Trees for Bees”
--“Plant Trees for Bees”
--Trees for Bees This site is sponsored by Arbor Day Foundation and sells tree seedlings at a reasonable price.
So while you are snuggled inside during the cold winter weather think about planting a few bee friendly trees next spring. ...Beekeeper, Fred