A Seasonal List of Bee Plants

By: Phil Van Soelen

Phil Van Soelen is the co-owner with Sherrie Althouse of California Flora Nursery, a small, unconventional nursery devoted to California…

More From This Author

Barbara and Jacques Schlumberger have, for some time, been concerned about the plight of honeybees, particularly Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and the unnatural, factory-farm life that many honeybees are forced to lead. It is not fully known what causes CCD. Certainly contributing to the worldwide decline in bee health and bee populations is a combination of pressures from introduced parasites and diseases, pesticides, loss of floral resources, high fructose corn syrup diets, hives trucked around the country, and queens with pests and diseases transported all over the world.

Honeybee numbers have been declining since the 1940s; such huge numbers are dying now that the alarm is sounding almost worldwide. One-third of our food crops are bee pollinated, and eighty percent of our foods require some pollination services. Between a third and a half of hives are dying, a situation that affects commercial beekeepers economically and worries farmers and governments about the potential loss of crop pollination.

Barbara envisioned creating a honeybee sanctuary on their forty-acre property near Healdsburg, California. She envisioned the Melissa Garden as,

…an iconic garden to venerate the honeybees, demonstrate bee-friendly plantings, provide a sanctuary for honeybees, and establish a center that furthers a wide spectrum of honeybee-centric educational and cultural activities. The overall nature of the garden…gives sacred respect for the honeybees, recognizing their precarious viability at this time in history, and seeks to gather insights and educate about environmental and hive management activities that support honeybees in having natural, vital lives.

We wanted a wide variety of species flowering from as early in the season as possible to as late in the season as possible. Honeybees prefer a profusion of flowering species rather than an isolated plant here and there…

The following plant lists present some of the most successful bee-attracting flowering plants used in The Melissa Garden. The plants have been grouped chronologically, according to their season of flowering. An asterisk (*) donates a California native plant. To see a complete list of plants used in The Melissa Garden, visit wwwthemelissagarden.com..

February/March
*Arctostaphylos spp
manzanita
Borago officinalis
borage
Brassica spp.
wild mustard
*Eschscholzia californica
California poppy
Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Plena’
Papaver sp.
Greek poppy
*Phacelia tanacetifolia
Raphanus sativus
wild radish
Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary

April
*Mahonia aquilifolium
Oregon grape
Echium spp.
*Eschscholzia californica
California poppy
Lobularia maritima
sweet alyssum
Nepeta x faassenii
Papaver rhoeas
Shirley poppy
*Phacelia californica, campanularia, tanacetifolia, viscida
Rosmarinus officinalis
rosemary
Scabiosa spp.
pincushion flower

May/June
*Asclepias eriocarpa
Indian milkweed
*Asclepias fascicularis
narrow-leaf milkweed
Asclepias syriacaa
milkweed
Aster x frikarti ‘Monch’
Bidens ferulifolia
tickseed
*Cirsium occidentale
cobwebby thistle
Cynara cardunculus
cardoon
Echinops ritro
globe thistle
Echiums spp.
*Eriogonum spp.
wild buckwheats
Eryngium spp.
sea holly
*Eschscholzia californica
California poppies,
Gaillardia grandiflora ‘Oranges and Lemons’
blanket flower
Gaura lindheimeri
*Grindelia spp.
gumweed
Melilotus alba var annua ‘Hubam’
white sweetclover
*Monardella spp.
Nepeta spp.
catmint
Papaver rhoeas
Shirley poppy
*Penstemon heterophyllus
foothills penstemon
*Phacelia spp.
*Prunella vulgaris
self-heal
*Rhamnus californica
California coffeeberry
Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’
Salvia ‘Bees Bliss’
Salvia chamaedryoides
*Salvia mellifera
black sage
*Salvia sonomensis
Teucrium spp.
Thymus spp.
thymes
Verbascum spp.
mullein

June/July
Agastache foeniculum
anise hyssop
Bidens ferulifolia
tickseed
Calamintha nepetoides
calamint
Cleome hasslerana
spider flower
Cosmos bipinnatus and sulphureus
*Eriogonum fasciculatum
California buckwheat
*Eriogonum giganteum
St Catherine’s lace
*Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
red buckwheat
Gaillardia grandiflora
blanket flower
Gaura lindheimeri
Helianthus annuus
common sunflower
*Helianthus gracilentus
*Heteromeles arbutifolia
toyon
Lavendula spp.
lavender
*Madia elegans
common tarweed
Nepeta spp.
catmint
Origanum spp.
Oregano
Perovskia spp.
Russian sage
Rosa rugosa ‘Hansa’
Rudbeckia hirta
black-eyed Susan
Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
Salvia uliginosa
bog sage
Scabiosa spp.
pincushion flower
*Solidago californica
goldenrod
Teucrium chamaedrys
wall germander
Teucrium fruticans
bush germander
Thymus spp.
thyme
Verbena bonariensis
Vitex agnus-castus
chaste tree

August/September
Aster ericoides ‘Monte Casino’
Aster x frikarti ‘Monch’
Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ and ‘Prince’
Aster ‘Little Carlow’
Aster oblongifolius ‘Fanny’
Calamintha nepetoides
calamint
Caryopteris incana
common bluebeard
*Eriogonum fasciculatum
California buckwheat
Gaura lindheimeri
Helianthus giganteus
giant sunflower
*Lotus scoparius
deerweed
*Madia elegans
common tarweed
Ocimum spp.
basil
Origanum spp.
oregano
Salvia uliginosa
bog sage
Sedum telephium
Solidago spp.
goldenrod
Teucrium cossonii

September
*Baccharis pilularis
coyote bush

Web
Extra
‹ Back To Main Article