I’ve been fishing up to a dozen bees – both European honeybees and native bees (Note: there are 1600 in California) – out of our pool the last few days (about 2/3rd survive if I make my rounds frequently) so I knew something was blooming in the vicinity. Yep, looking nearby, the loquats were in full bloom. I had an earlier post with a 6 month list of plants used by the bees on our half acre of property. Here’s a more complete list, plus some photos.
Again, the biggest takeaway for homeowners (and commercial growers) is:
VARIETY IS KEY!Both natives and non-natives are important. Because native plants in your area carry the advantage that bees have evolved with them, we tend to prefer natives. But the non-natives are great for filling in gaps where the natives have less blooms, especially in the summer. For example, crape myrtle is making the bees happy right now in hot August.
Below is my 12 month log of the wide variety of plants/trees I’ve witnessed bees getting nectar here on our property in Southern CA, along with some photos and a few takeaways. (Some, such as rosemary and lavender can grow nearly everywhere.)
January – rosemary, loquat, currant and manzanita (bumblebees love manzanita!)
February – rosemary, lavender, ceanothus & magnolia (blooming earlier than normal a couple years), viburnum tinus (laurestine), sages (salvias), bush mallow, currant. manzanitas
March – ceanothus, salvias (black, Cleveland, Bee’s Bliss), bush mallow, lavender, rosemary, fremontia, Nevin’s Barberry, apricot trees, Magnolia, a few remnant Manzanita flowers
April – wisteria, prunus (ornamental cherry) nevin’s barberi, salvias (Cleveland sage, black), fremontia, lavender, pride of madeira, sugarbush, Nevin’s Barberry, citrus (orange), Carolina Cherry (prunus caroliniana or wild mock orange),
May – pride of madeira, salvias (Cleveland sage, black sage), orange, paloverde (Desert Museum), pyrochantha, privet (ligustrum ovalifolium), lavender, wisteria, bush mallow, matilija poppy
June – St. Catherine’s lace buckwheat, lavender, sugar bush, lemonade berry, toyon
July – St. Catherine’s Lace buckwheat, lavender, balhemia, California buckwheat, toyon, crape myrtle, white sage, rosemary
August– Bauhinia (orchid tree), lavender, rosemary, crape myrtle, California buckwheat
September – California buckwheat, anisacanthus, rosemary, bauhinia
October – Chinese elm, eucalyptus, rosemary, Quail bush, Menzie’s Goldenbush
November– she-oak, loquat, strawberry bush, rosemary, Quail Bush, Mexican Sage, Menzie’s Goldenbush
December (last Dec)- rosemary, loquat, Manzanita
- Longest Longevity: Local beekeeper here in Southern California, Brian Romberg, recommends lavender and rosemary because of their longevity. Note that rosemary was feeding the bees on our property all but three months. Romberg says, “If you have lavender or rosemary you’ll have bees around because those bloom for long periods of time.” We’ve noticed you can also plant different varieties of ceanothus and sages (salvias) that have different blooming times. For example, black sage blooms started blooming in February and now (May) the Cleveland sage is at its peak.
- Avoid pesticide use, especially on flowering plants. Regardless of what a pest person says or the hardware store employee – pesticides kill bees (and other helpful insects along with the ones you’re trying to eradicate)
- Plant lists: A great internet resource to check on good plants for your area is the Xerces Society website, and their plant lists.
- Plant natives! The many, many native bees – 1600 in our yard alone – are major pollinators, and they evolved with local native plants.