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Forage for Bees in the Pacific Northwest  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 233
Location: Western Washington
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I did a brief search to see if this topic existed yet, and I didn't find any. So, I wanted to start one.

Specifically I'd love to hear what your lived experiences are with bee forage in the pacific northwest (for honey bees, bumblebees, and other bees). What works and what doesn't? I've found some neat infographics online but I'm always interested in expanding my knowledge.

I've found that lavendar, buckwheat, and sunflowers are all pretty easy to grow for forage. The latter two are also pretty flexible for me in terms of targeting their bloom to times when I feel it will be most beneficial.

For trees, I've heard that linden, golden chain, honey locust, black locust, empress trees, and silk mimosa are all good. What are your experiences with these? I'm really interested in learning about bee forage trees for my orchard. It's like planting a whole garden bed or more of flowers, but a lot less maintenance and weeding. I've heard some lindens are bad for bumblebees.

Thanks ahead of time for sharing!
 
pollinator
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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I think the #1 goal is a lot of variety for seasonal coverage, but that is a strong point in most permie systems.

In the linden family, I would lean toward the tilia cordata because the fragrance is no incredible.  It grows very well in the PNW.
 
master pollinator
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Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Be aware that buckwheat will overpower fainter flavors. Such as peach. Learned that the hard way. I plant a lot of buckwheat after the main spring blooms. It definitely helps fill the gaps in blooms. Makes good pancakes too:)
 
James Landreth
pollinator
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What are some good plants for summer and fall bee forage? I'm looking for perennials and trees especially
 
Mike Barkley
master pollinator
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borage

Looks like this will grow in your area.
 
master steward
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Borage DOES grow well. It self-seeds, too.

Other plants I see bees all over are dandelions, oregano, marjoram, lavender, and rosemary. They also seem to like the native blackberries and other cane berries.

There's some random evergreen shrub that my mom has that makes red berries and blooms for a loooong time, and bees are always all over that thing. I'll try to remember to ask her what that plant is...
 
Mike Barkley
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Washington beekeepers association

I'm not familiar enough with PNW trees & plants to make many specific suggestions. Didn't see much relevant info at the WSU website. They were focused on how to place hives for commercial pollination. Your local beekeeper association will certainly be a valuable resource.

An important thing to consider with bee foods is diversity. Where have we heard that word before? Certain varieties of bees prefer certain plants. Different varieties prefer different plants. That also varies by season & availability. Honeybees favorite color is blue. The DO love borage. (makes good soup & stew too) Another consideration is quantity. Honeybees much prefer large quantities over small. They will also wait until a particular plant type is in perfect bloom. For instance, I had an apiary that required the bees to fly directly over many huge honeysuckle plants. Those had blooms for months but the bees completely ignored it except for one day each year. Then they would hit it en masse.

Fruit trees in general are good bee food & they supply other things bees need like resins, etc. Pungent herbs are also a good choice. Bee balm is a beautiful perennial (or at least self seeding) bee food plant but I believe it requires warmer weather than the PNW. I've found the local "pollinator & bee" flower mixes from garden centers to be good. Clover. Can't go wrong with clover. I use red & white clovers. Mostly as a cover crop but the bees are frequently on it too. Stacked functions!

 
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